The fifth “Seven”

35 days ago, dad left me and mum, headed towards the unknown. In traditional Chinese culture, today is the fifth “Seven”.

Dad was diagnosed with late-stage cancer with bone metastasis last year, not long after the pandemic began. With international travels becoming almost impossible, mum and dad asked me not to go back, in case I caught COVID during the travel – a decision and a sacrifice not many parents can make. I continued working in UK and dad went through treatment in China with mum looking after him. During the day, I worked hard as always, trying to make everyone happy in the lab; in the evening, I checked dad’s treatment of the previous day and test results to track his condition, as I was trained in medicine. Some of the nights, I was so upset seeing the tests results getting worse and cried myself to sleep. Knowing the inevitable, I was still hoping that Dad could pull through and a miracle could happen. I chatted with mum and dad every day, asking how they were coping, and dad always put on the biggest smile, telling me he was ok – but he was slipping away…

A couple of days before his passing, mum called so I could talk to dad before he completely lost consciousness. I called him so many times before he slowly recognised my voice and I saw his hand trying to grab me – but I wasn’t really there for him – the most heart-breaking moment in my life. The next 48 hours, I couldn’t sleep, held my phone close to me, waiting for the defining call that would bring the worst news in the world to me… Clicking on mum’s voice message, it was uncle’s voice – “your dad has just passed away, very peacefully. Don’t worry. We are all here with your mum. Don’t worry”. I could hear mum crying in the background. I burst into tears, punching the tables, screaming, crying, cursing whoever is upstairs that had taken my dad away, letting all my anger out. An hour later, I was sobbing with endless sadness, looking at dad’s photos and remembering all the good time that we spent together…

A month has now passed, life seems gone back to normal. Time heals everything, so they say. Yet, now and then, like today, the fifth “Seven”, some old songs and some random scenes could trigger an episode of extreme sadness and sharp pain in me. Losing a parent is such a horrible experience. Knowing that the hands that always protected me and the voices that always guided me are no longer there is so scary. This is how we grow up, so they say. It’s time for me to grow up and fight my own way through the life.

Dad, if you can hear me, I want to say that I miss you and I will make you proud.

-by Lizi New


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