We will die waking up

  I walked out of the isolation hotel at dawn, the moon was still high, the sky slowly glowed blue, and hope seemed to be reborn between night and day. An inexplicable gratitude welled up in my heart. My father is still alive and I can see him soon.
  As soon as I entered the house, I noticed that the dining table was full of open photo albums. Looking closer, most of them were taken by my parents on the seaside, riverside, lakeside or swimming pool. They used to swim together every morning for decades. Before I left Shanghai at the end of 2020, I accompanied them to the swimming pool. That day, my mother got tired after entering the water and said she wanted to go up first. My father coaxed her to swim back and forth one more time, and I praised her. At that time, we didn’t know that she was seriously ill. A month later, my mother was dragged out of the pool by two lifeguards. That was the last time she swam…
  The nanny said, your dad has been looking at photos recently.
  I looked into my parents’ bedroom, the door was closed. It’s been nine months since my mother left, and I’m still in a daze, as if she might come out of it at any moment.
  Before my mother was diagnosed with lymphoma, my father already knew that there was a lot of danger. It was almost Chinese New Year at that time, and I thought he wanted to take her for a check-up after the Chinese New Year. After my friend Shelley went to see them, he sent me a letter saying that your father was reluctant to send your mother to the hospital. He said that he had seen too much, and that if you send it in, you will not be able to get out.
  My father sent my mother to the hospital years ago. When I rushed back to Shanghai, he himself was admitted to another ward on the same floor due to a heart attack. My brother arrived in Shanghai five days earlier than me. He didn’t know that there was a new regulation until he got to the hospital after he was quarantined. People who came back from abroad can only enter the ward to visit their relatives after 28 days. He proposed to let his mother sit in a wheelchair and push him to the yard to meet him, but my mother couldn’t sit up that day. The next day my brother begged an acquaintance to take him up the stairs and sneak into the ward.
  In the video, the mother is moaning and shouting. She is a patient person, and the pain must have exceeded her limit. The father could only sit on the sidelines silently and helplessly, helpless and helpless.
  We have a friend in Australia. She is my cousin’s college classmate. She lived in the house on Pingjiang Road for a while. We call her Xiaoyu. Before going abroad, Xiao Yu was a doctor in the anesthesiology department of the hospital. She suggested that her mother use an anesthetic called Propofol (propofol) to relieve her pain, sleep, and have the strength to eat and undertake further treatment the next day. But the mother’s doctor said that the hospital had never used anesthesia in this way and could not bear the risk (Michael Jackson died after taking an overdose of Propofol).
  I called my father, and I could hear my mother’s painful voice from the side. I was afraid that he might not be able to hear clearly, so I asked loudly, can you ask the doctor to give anesthesia to my mother? He also replied loudly, no, do you want her to be euthanized? Then he hung up the phone. I asked my brother to go to the hospital, and I had to convince my father anyway. He said, I can’t get in now. I said, if it were me, I would rather press a pillow on my mother’s head, and I would rather she die. As I said that, I couldn’t help crying, and all the tears I had been holding back in my stomach these days poured out. My brother cried when he heard me cry. The two of us were so helpless and hopeless crying on both ends of the phone.
  The next day I called my father again, and he said, talk to your mother. I called my mother and she cried, and called my sister softly, sister, and couldn’t say anything else. I repeat over and over again, Mom, you are suffering, and I will come to see you right away. After a while, my father answered the phone and said in a hoarse voice, “Mom is tired, let’s talk about it tomorrow.” I suddenly felt heartbroken and guilty. He was with his mother every day, and seeing her suffer must be exhausting. Why should we blame him from a distance.
  The first time my brother and I went to the hospital to visit my mother, my father’s assistant put us in an empty buffer ward across from the elevator, waiting for my parents to join us from their respective wards.
  The mother was pushed over by the nurse in the wheelchair. She lowered her head, closed her eyes tightly, and was as thin as a skeleton. My chest tightens—there are some things we can never be prepared enough for. She clung to the handle of the wheelchair with all her strength, as if she was on a cliff, and if she let go, she would plummet. I knelt down and called my mother softly. When she opened her eyes and saw me, she called out aggrievedly, sister, sister. I hugged her head, and she tried to open her eyes, as if she had a thousand words but didn’t have the strength to say them. I asked her, does mother want to drink saliva? She said yes. I asked the nurse to bring warm water and a straw, but she couldn’t suck after two sips. My brother and I were on each side, stroking her hand that was gripping the wheelchair tightly, and she slowly relaxed a little.
  On the car home from the hospital, I looked out the window wistfully. The new green leaves of the sycamore tree shone like gems in the sun, and a red winter plum and a white magnolia occasionally passed by. Passers-by carried bags in and out of the store, sat in the shade with their mobile phones and cigarettes in their hands, and the takeaway guys shuttled between the crowds… It was an ordinary day. There’s a song in my head: Why does the sun still shine, why do the waves crash on rocky shores, don’t they know it’s the end of the world?
  The footsteps of my father in slippers made me turn my head. His steps were staggering, his eyes were tired, and he was older than when I left half a year ago. My name is Dad, and he said nothing else. I pointed to a photo and asked, where did you take it? He looked at the shape of my mouth seriously, and said, this is a bronze mermaid statue on the coast of Denmark. I didn’t know that my parents had been to Denmark together before this.
  In fact, what I want to say more is: I have been thinking about you all the time, are you okay? Have you gotten used to being alone? I often dream about my mother, have you ever dreamed about her? How do you survive the days of loneliness? But this is not a conversation that could happen between us. Father and daughter, we have never communicated our feelings in words. My father didn’t open his heart to anyone but his mother. I only saw him vulnerable for a moment, and that was a month after my mother had chemotherapy.
  That day my mother lay on the hard CT table and yelled at me and my brother, I can’t take it anymore, I really can’t take it anymore, come and save me! The doctor took a protective vest for me to put on, but couldn’t find a second one for my brother. We entered the CT room just like this, holding mother’s hand one by one, repeating softly in her ear, it will be fine soon, it will be fine soon. The father and the doctor were studying the CT results of the mother in the next room. Father had seen countless cases of similar patients, and this time it was his lover’s turn. From CT, the mother’s tumor did not change much.
  After returning to the ward, I told my aunt and aunt the CT results. My aunt sent a letter and said: “According to your mother’s situation, it is better to walk comfortably than to suffer alive. Your father is too selfish to force her, please persuade him.” She suggested that I ask my mother directly if she wants to leave, but I Don’t dare to ask anyway. After my mother fell asleep, I wrote back to my aunt: “She didn’t tell me that she didn’t want to live. If my mother gave me clear instructions that she wanted to leave, I would be obliged to complete it. Although she groaned and screamed, she didn’t say she wanted to leave.” Auntie Said: “It is said that people have the desire to survive at that point, so we have to persuade her to eat.”
  The second aunt also sent me a letter: “My sister is so miserable.” I replied: “Father just can’t let her go. Let her survive at all costs. He said, calling you back is to say goodbye to her. It means don’t worry about other things.” The second aunt said: “He said that your mother is hopeless, so let her be quiet Finish what she wants to do, don’t suffer any more, your father will also go home, and the only way to love her is to go to the finish line as a family. Forcibly dragging her to suffer extraordinary pains is to mutilate her, it is inhuman.”

  Some words were too difficult to say, and I was afraid that I could not speak clearly, so I wrote a letter to my father: “Through observing my mother during this period, she is very uncomfortable whenever she is awake. Sometimes it is slightly better, sometimes It’s hard to bear. Today, my brother and I were by her side for an hour and a half. She sat for a while and wanted to lie down. Physical torture, my mother always clenched the railing of the bed with her hands when she was lying down. I told her that if it was painful, the doctor could give painkillers. She said it was useless, I was not in pain, but sad The mother’s feelings and expressions are clear. The nurse and the nanny talk in front of her, saying that she is noisy all day long, that she can’t stand up, that she is pooping on her body… like she is a vexatious child, an idiot. Mom She has a lot of self-esteem, is very proud, and she can’t bear it. At her age, in the current situation of skinny bones and declining vitality, is this kind of suffering worth it? What is she getting in exchange for it? Is it a longer suffering? ”
  I solemnly handed the letter to my father. After reading it, he didn’t say anything. He folded the letter and put it back in the envelope and returned it to me. I didn’t give up, and summoned up the courage to tell him that my mother was suffering too much, so I didn’t need treatment. My father didn’t look at me and didn’t make a sound. I said, let’s take her home, can we find enough morphine? We stayed with her and gave her an injection to let her go. My father still didn’t look at me. After a pause, he said, where can I find such a large dose? Today I went to accompany her and asked her to eat more. She said that she wanted to go home with me… At this time, my father choked up, his eyes were red, and tears welled in his eyes, but he didn’t let it flow down. He said, you go home. At that moment, the father’s rhinoceros-like armor cracked, exposing his beating heart.
  Every morning I went to the ward to accompany my mother to suffer, and at night I dreamed of how to save her in a trance. One day when I was having breakfast, I told my brother that I still had 28 sleeping pills, and I would take them to the hospital today to see if there was any chance to feed them to my mother. My brother said, how can that be? You don’t know what will happen after taking the sleeping pills, maybe she will feel even more uncomfortable, besides, if you are found out, you will go to jail.
  The mother’s bed is near the window, facing south, and the patient’s bed is near the door, with a white curtain drawn. The warm sunlight came in through the window, casting my shadow on the wall. I leaned into my mother’s ear and asked, Mom, is there anything you need me to do? Mom, I will do my best to fulfill any wish you have. She said, you pray with me, remember to pray.
  I remember that about seven or eight years ago, my mother sat in a daze at the small desk in the bedroom, and an open book was full of lines. Her amnesia had developed to the point where she could no longer enjoy reading. I walked over and touched her shoulder, she turned her head and said, life is very boring, there is nothing to be happy about. Can’t remember what I said, maybe nothing was said. She then said lightly, I won’t kill myself because I can’t treat your dad like that.
  Another time, I couldn’t find her in the house, which was odd because my mother didn’t usually go out except to go swimming with my father. A gust of wind hit my face, and the curtains fluttered, and I realized that the balcony door was open, and she was leaning on the balcony railing, her thinning hair being blown messy by the wind. I walked over to call her, and her eyes averted from afar. When she first moved into this apartment decades ago, she said she liked the balcony, but let’s not lean too hard on the railing. If it’s a bean curd project, you’ll die if you fall off. I felt that my mother was thinking about life and death, so I gently pulled her back into the house and said, I want to hear you play the piano.
  The mother did not propose to end this ordeal early from the beginning to the end. Is it the instinct to survive? still love?
  Father opened the wallet and asked, do you need RMB? I saw that there was an extra photo of my mother when she was young, which he printed out according to the size of the wallet. Did he print it himself at home? Or is it printed out in a professional place outside? I also have the same one, which was enlarged and dyed by my father himself. The mother in the photo is probably in her early twenties. I have never seen another woman with such natural and serene beauty, with such deep and mysterious eyes. After my mother left, I made a mirror frame and put it on the cabinet in the dressing room, so I can see it every day.
  Sometimes in completely inexplicable circumstances—perhaps waking up in the middle of the night, reheating lunch in front of the microwave during the day, humming in the shower in the evening—I would see my mother’s scrawny body, bruised and bruised from an IV needle. I think that my father chose this photo not to remember, but to forget—he wanted to use his mother’s best appearance to dilute the memory of her being ravaged by illness.
  During chemotherapy, my mother often pulled out the drip tube, and all the veins on the back of the arms and hands could no longer be used. The drip device had to be buried under the skin and infused from the carotid artery. This minor operation usually only needs local anesthesia, but because the mother will not cooperate with the operation when she is awake, general anesthesia must be used. My father worried about the risk of general anesthesia and told the doctor that I could hold her down in the operating room. But the doctor said that it is impossible for you to hold her head and shoulders alone, and the risk of her struggling will be higher than general anesthesia.
  I am not religious and have the same skepticism about myself and religion. But during the ten months when my mother was seriously ill, I prayed every night in the dark, asking God to bless her. In retrospect, I wasn’t “religious” in those moments, sometimes screaming in my head: what the hell do you want her for? Why are you torturing her like this? Why don’t you stop my dad?
  One day, my brother and I visited our parents in the hospital as usual. My mother suddenly became more energetic. She ate half of the apple we brought and sang “Tennessee Waltz” to the music on her brother’s mobile phone. My father gave me a meaningful look. His belief and endurance in insisting on treatment finally ignited the flame of hope—maybe my mother’s illness can be cured. Since that day, she has miraculously improved.
  On my birthday, I was filming “Hachiko” in Chongqing. My father called me, as if he didn’t remember the birthday at all. He said, Mom wants to talk to you, and I’m going to the downstairs office to consult with patients.
  The mother asked, sister, where are you? I said, I was filming in Chongqing, do you remember Chongqing? Do you remember what happened in Geleshan? She said that she was the happiest when she was in Geleshan. She couldn’t express it more specifically, so I reminded her, remember Pastor Yao? She said, Pastor Yao is the best, he taught me many songs. I asked again, is there a church in Shengguang Middle School? She was stunned for a while and said, as long as we have a few people together, it is a church. After my mother lost her memory, she often used various ingenious ways to cover up the blankness of her mind. I don’t know if her answer was prevaricating me, or did she see the misty bamboo forest in her mind and hear the prayers and songs echoing in the valley? I can’t help but be moved, what a beautiful answer.
  I said goodbye to my mother, and before I could turn off the phone, I heard her talking to herself on the other end. It turned out that she didn’t know how to turn off her father’s mobile phone, and she didn’t know that she was still connected to me. The mother groaned in confusion, as if she didn’t know what she was going to face and what to do. Then she began to pray hastily. After she stopped for a moment, I called my mother softly. She asked hurriedly, sister? Where are you? I said, I’m filming in Chongqing and I’m talking to you on the phone, let’s pray together. I followed the prayer she once taught me: Dear Lord, thank you for everything you have given us, forgive our sins, direct our words and deeds, and hear our prayers. Please give us peace, health, strength, wisdom and courage, be with us, please bless mother… mother immediately added: dear Lord, I entrust my sister to you, please bless her family and career Success, please guide her, be your good boy, and don’t do things you don’t like. I was sixty that day, but still a child—Mother’s, God’s. That was the most memorable gift of all my birthdays.

  After returning from Chongqing, I accompanied my mother to sing in the ward every morning, and my father also listened to it, sometimes his eyes became distant. In the memory of those days when the mother got rid of the misery, the room was always full of sunshine. The windows are wide, the sun is on her face, and her song is full of girlish longing: the birds sing, the wildflowers bloom, the lake sleeps in the sun, though spring cheers the sad heart and the broken heart Never see spring again. I take the mountain road, you take the plain, I will go to Scotland before you. But my lover and I will never meet again, on the shore of the most beautiful Loch Lomond… I didn’t know until she left that it was a Scottish ballad called “Loch Lomond”.
  One day, when my mother was singing “In That Faraway Place”, when she sang “I wish she would take a thin leather whip and keep hitting me lightly”, she suddenly said, this line is quite sexy. I am amazed that she would be absolutely incapable of making such an association without the music accompanying the word. Once again, I was confused by the mystery of music, I guess it starts from the most primitive center of the human brain, something that precedes language? The music pierced through the diseased limbic pathway in the mother’s brain to her atrophied hippocampus and amygdala. The momentary sensory memory, like a short-circuit spark, illuminated her dim consciousness, and she felt joy at that moment.
  My mother always got up at four o’clock in the morning to go to my father’s ward to look for him, which made him sleepless and tired. I told her, don’t go to see Dad so early in the morning, he will collapse if he doesn’t rest well. She ashamedly promised to let him sleep enough tomorrow, but she forgot the next day and went to look for him early in the morning. Sometimes, my mother would lose her temper with my father in front of doctors and nurses. He himself is also a very tempered person, but at this time he had no choice but to treat her like a child and never blamed her. I’m reminded of Brad Pitt’s character in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button who turns into a baby at the end of his life in the arms of his lover.
  On the morning of my mother’s death, my father saw her convulsed, pale, and almost fell to the ground. My brother asked the driver to take him home and lie on the bed. Dad didn’t sleep that night, but he went to the office the next morning. He suffered from insomnia for two weeks after that, but insisted on going to work every day. The person I love the most is gone, and the shared memories of seventy years, and the “everyday” in daily life have also disappeared. But the favorite job is still there, and it is like gravity, which keeps my father safely tied to a familiar place.
  At 7:30 in the morning, my father told me that I went to work. His voice was serious and calm, and there was life in his eyes.
  When he graduated from Shanghai Medical College, he was assigned to a crime research institute where he was trained by Soviet experts to solve crimes. It was the predecessor of the Security Bureau Research Institute, and the nature of the work was very political.
  When reporting for duty, my father saw several other graduates from the School of Political Science and Law, so he told the person in charge that I would only be a doctor, not suitable for solving crimes. The person in charge said that we need people who understand physics and chemistry to solve cases involving explosion, combustion, and traces. My father said, I am from the medical department and have never studied physical chemistry. People from the pharmacy department may be stronger in this regard. But the person in charge was still not convinced, so my father had no choice but to bite the bullet and say, I have another question, have you seen it in the files, I was a counter-revolutionary. The person in charge made a phone call to the doctor, and it turned out that the file was indeed the case, so he asked the doctor to replace it immediately.
  At that time, there were two departments that no one wanted to go to, one was the Department of Histology and Embryology, and the other was the Department of Radiology, and the Department of Radiology was the last one that people wanted to go to. At that time, there was only a machine for taking chest X-rays, and there was no other equipment. After his father was sent back to school, he volunteered to go to the radiology department. It was 1956, when he was twenty-five years old. After receiving his first month’s salary, he rode directly to Nanjing Road to buy medical supplies for his mother and himself. a pair of pants. For some reason, they talked about it many times, as if it was a very special day in their lives. Sixty-six years have passed, and the radiology department of Huashan Hospital has replaced the shotgun with the cannon, and the 91-year-old father is still seeing patients there.
  I remember one time, my mother needed to go to the PET center of Huashan Branch for a full-body scan. Before dawn, the driver and I rushed to the ward to pick up my parents. Father was still washing up, he said, there was no need to go so early. I said yesterday that the doctor told me that I must arrive before six o’clock, otherwise I would have to wait in a long line for a long time, and my mother would be too tired. He said no. When I arrived at the PET center, my father knew the way very well, and chatted with the doctors there about all kinds of people and things in the center. Then I realized that he is one of the veterans of Chinese radiology, and he is an advanced doctor in the application of CT, MRI, DR and DSA in China. Pioneers of equipment and technology. My father is full of peaches and plums, and going to the PET center is like returning to my hometown.
  After my mother started her third round of chemotherapy, I told my father about my plans to return to the United States. He knew that this would happen sooner or later, but he still slumped on the chair and didn’t speak for a long time. Then he said, can’t you spend a few more days with your mother? I said, I haven’t been home for more than four months, and I will go back while my mother is still stable. He said that if you return to Shanghai from the United States now, you will have to be quarantined for three weeks, you know? I said I’ve heard that too. My father said that if something happens to her, you won’t be able to catch her. After finishing speaking, he turned on his laptop and read the literature of imaging studies. Even in the hospital, he never delayed his study and thinking of professional knowledge. I looked at his back and felt his loneliness and fatigue.
  A father with heart disease takes care of a mother with amnesia and cancer. During such a difficult time, the children could not be by his side. Did he regret sending us so far back then? Once a few years ago, it seemed that his father had to deal with some complicated business, which worried and tired him. He told the driver that children are raised for nothing and are useless at all. During the lockdown period in Shanghai, my father’s life was very difficult. He didn’t know how to use WeChat, and he didn’t know how to grab food online. I couldn’t buy a ticket back to Shanghai for a long time, and when I finally bought it, I was blown out twice. My father was hard of hearing, and I was afraid that I couldn’t speak clearly on the phone, so I wrote WeChat to ask my cousin to tell me. After reading it, my father said that it was probably an excuse.
  The graves of my grandmother’s parents are in the suburbs of Nanchang, Jiangxi Province. I remember my father told me that in the 1990s, the local government wanted to build a road above the cemetery. After receiving the notice, my father went there to move the ancestral grave. According to local customs, a Feng Shui master was invited to go with him when digging the grave. After digging, my father saw that the water in the creek beside the grave had been diverted in some years and months, and his grandparents’ coffins had been soaked in groundwater. After the coffin was lifted there were six fish swimming slowly in the water. Looking carefully, my father found that because they had never seen sunlight in their lives, their eyes were blind. Seeing this scene, the fortune teller thought about it and said that he would send the six younger generations of the family abroad. My father was a little shocked. From my grandma to my generation, there are a total of eight descendants, six of whom live abroad. Perhaps it was fate that my father complained about, not our unfilial piety.
  The flight took off at night, and during the day I went to the hospital for the last time to accompany my parents. We sang as usual in the ward and then had lunch together. Mother took a few mouthfuls and didn’t want to eat anymore. Father took out a piece of chestnut cake from his small refrigerator and said, Ah Zhong, dessert. Mother took it with a smile and ate it. I wonder if, in their sixty-six years of marriage, have they ever had other desires—those that were mutually insatiable? That seems to be human nature. They must also have had the joy that the other party could not share, the pain that could not be shared, or the temptation when they were lonely and unbearable? I’ll probably never get an answer.

  Back home from the ward, the cat meowed around me, and I squatted down to pet it. When it first came to my parents’ house, the friend who gave me the cat often came to ask how it was doing, and my mother would say that this cat is so smart that it could be my graduate student. Or, this cat is very sensible, and we will depend on it if we fail in the future. Over the years, when my parents watch TV, it always likes to lie on my father’s lap; when my mother plays the piano, it always likes to sit at one end of the piano bench; Face against my pant leg. The cat felt comfortable being stroked, opened its eyes and looked at me affectionately, its lazy body purring. There was a can of fish left at home, I opened it to it, it ate deliciously, and licked its fur carefully afterward, completely unaware that I would have to send it to a strange place. All love is going to be lost from the beginning, and even cats cannot avoid this inevitable fate.
  Father seldom eats at the dining table now. He usually eats breakfast in front of the computer in the study while writing a book, and eats lunch and dinner in front of the TV while watching dramas. One day, he rarely ate at the table with me, and thought of the cat, and told me that the cat can come back now. I said, don’t worry, you are alone in Shanghai, my brother and I are very worried, it is too difficult to fly back and forth during the epidemic, you should come to the United States to live with us for a while. He said, I am currently studying the prevention and treatment of brain capillary disease, and I am too busy to leave. As soon as the epidemic is over, I will go to Laos. The task assigned to me by the country’s leaders has not yet been completed.
  My father has a strong wanderlust deep in his heart, and he yearns for the distance and the unknown very much. In the 1970s, he took a medical team to work in Togo, stopping in Paris for a day on the way. That was the first time he left China, and he was shocked by the richness and breadth of the world. Perhaps, the seeds of wandering were buried in his heart at that time.
  The water quality in the dormitory of the medical team was poor, so my father would go hiking with his colleagues every day, carrying big buckets of spring water back to the dormitory. He said it was the sweetest water he had ever drank in his life. The eldest wife of a local chief often visited his father for medical treatment, and the chief became his father’s friend. The eldest wife lives in a house made of mud and hay, and the curtains and bed sheets are all the national flags given to the chief by visitors from various countries.
  Togo was very poor, but there my father got a taste of freedom away from domestic political movements. A few months later, he applied to the Chinese embassy in Togo to transfer our whole family to Togo. The reason was that as a doctor, he could understand the local people more effectively than the official, and promote the friendship between China and Togo. Our family almost became Togolese. Fortunately, the embassy did not approve his request.
  In the 1980s and 1990s, my father went to the United States every November to participate in the annual meeting of radiology. He also often went to European countries for investigation and exchange, and brought back the world’s most advanced medical technology and equipment to Huashan Hospital. After the return of Macau, he led the Huashan medical team to develop and train medical backbones for many hospitals affiliated to the Macau Department of Health. With the deepening of his mother’s amnesia, he became more and more unable to leave. Occasionally, he would take his mother to visit and give lectures in cities not too far from Shanghai. A few times, while my brother and I were in Shanghai, he left his mother in our care, and then flew out on a business trip. Now, what my father can’t forget is Laos.
  About six or seven years ago, my father told me that the central government ordered the establishment of the China Precision Medicine Strategic Expert Group, and my Imaging Center was to study “precision medicine and precision imaging”. A Laotian visited Huashan Hospital and invited me to build a precision medical hospital for them. This Laotian used to be a classmate of the national leader in high school, and now the leader entrusted me with this project. It’s hot in Laos and I’m going to the tailor to have two linen suits made. As he said that, he showed me a group photo of them in Huashan Hospital. The Laotian was wearing an off-white collared jacket with a colorful shoulder strap slanted, and his father was wearing a bright red shirt with a radiant face.
  Later, the epidemic swept the world, and then my mother fell ill, and the trip to Laos was stranded. After my mother left, my father became more and more silent. Only when Laos was mentioned, he would speak up. After the opening of the China-Laos Railway, he carefully arranged the route from Shanghai to Vientiane on the map many times, saying, now I can go by train and have fun along the way.
  I said that the epidemic in Laos has never stopped, and now it has coexisted with the virus. It is too dangerous for you to go to this age. He said the Laotian suffered a stroke last year that left him paralyzed and recently died. I said, then don’t even think about going to Laos. He said that before he died, he handed over the construction of the hospital to a friend, and we contacted him. I promised to build a hospital for them, and I will still go there in the future.
  It’s getting more and more outlandish, and neither my brother nor I can be sure it exists, but we can’t say it’s not true either. My father is indeed an excellent expert in hospital entrepreneurship and management. During his eleven years as president, Huashan Hospital has achieved rapid development and was rated as a third-class hospital with the highest score in the city; Laos is a narrow strip of water in China. In a neighboring country, a socialist country, it is not unnatural for the leader to send his father there to invest in building a hospital. My father insisted that a hospital in Laos would definitely be built.
  I am reminded of a passage by Virginia Woolf in Orlando, to the effect that fantasy is to the soul what the atmosphere is to the earth. If there is no layer of gentle air, everything will lose life and color, the earth will become a piece of ashes, and the hot pebbles will scorch the soles of our feet. Let’s be honest, we’re screwed by then. Life is a dream, and we shall die in waking up. Whoever deprives us of our dreams deprives us of our lives.
  Maybe the Laotian dream is to the father what the atmosphere is to life. Who knows? Maybe one day, he will take me and my brother on the China-Laos train to explore the steep mountains, narrow river valleys, and dense forests; one day, he will complete the tasks entrusted to him by the leaders of the country. The task of building the most modern hospital for Laos.
  Perhaps the very heart of the question of who we are is contained in all our dreams and those magical fantasies from which, after all, our strongest desires and fears originate and reside. Dreams write our biographies more truly than actual events.
  My father locked himself in the bedroom for four or five hours every afternoon, sometimes longer, and did not come out when it was dark. What is he thinking and doing in there? I have no way of knowing, I can only imagine that he is talking to grief. Said sadly, Chen Xingrong, you can’t love anyone like you love Zhang Anzhong. Father said, yes. Sadly, no one will love you like she does. My father said that there will be no more. Sadly, you’ll never hear her sing “When We Were Young” again. Father knelt down and said, I surrender, please spare me…
  Joan Didion, who wrote The Year of Wonders after the deaths of her daughter and her husband, said that grief is like the waves of a storm that beat your knees weak and your eyes black. Maybe when the big wave subsided, he went to print the photo of his mother and put it in his wallet. When he came out of his bedroom, he was a recent survivor of the tsunami.
  Young people may be able to find meaning in loss and grow in healing. There is still a long way ahead of them and other loves. For a 91-year-old father, losing his wife who has been with him for nearly 70 years is a desperate thing no matter how you look at it. From mother’s diagnosis to death ten months later, from her death to today, how many happy moments did father have that made him live so tenaciously? When he gets a respite from his torment? Like the dawn after a long night, like the recovery of all things after a severe winter.
  When tidying up my mother’s cupboard, I found a folder that said “Sister’s Information”, which contained documents and letters for my application to go abroad in 1981. Among them was a letter my father wrote to relevant leaders for me. It was densely packed with three pages and written on the letterhead of Huashan Hospital. It was revised and copied four times in total. I completely forgot about it. My application has hit a snag and won’t be approved. At that time, my father was a visiting scholar in New York. In order to have a broader horizon in my life, he specially returned to China early to help me run around. The letter was written on April 5, 1981, and I flew to New York on August 26, 1981. That day my father said, can you go this afternoon? I won’t take a nap to see you off. I said, oh, then I won’t wake you up.
  When I returned home after studying abroad for four years, my father did not pick me up as usual, but the moment I appeared in front of him, he couldn’t help but hugged me. I hang my feet off the ground in his arms, and for a moment, I feel surprise, happiness and inexplicable embarrassment. That was the only time he hugged me in my adult life. My father never said it, but I knew he must have missed me terribly.
  When it was time to leave again, my father and I ate breakfast silently. He ate two egg whites and drank a glass of watermelon juice, and then swallowed the medicine and vitamins that should be taken every morning; I ate two apples and drank a bottle of yogurt. Swallow the vitamins he gave me. After breakfast, he went back to the computer to watch the MRI images of his brain. His mother’s amnesia gave him great stimulation and made him obsessed with the capillaries in the brain. I sat there by myself, not knowing how to let him know that I loved him. I have too many unspoken words with my father.
  A friend suggested in WeChat: “Leave him a note, recalling some unforgettable details from the past, and put it where he will see it.” I replied: “Okay, I will try.” I didn’t leave him a
  note—— Another succumb to inertia, or nature?
  The plane started to rise, and the lights and clouds outside the window were like a wonderful underwater world. My father’s red swimming cap appeared in my mind. It sometimes floated and sometimes sank in the water, no matter how many people there were in the pool. , no matter which corner he swims to, I can see the red ball from the tip of his eyes. I don’t know if my father noticed my blue swimming cap and felt some kind of tacit affection?

error: Content is protected !!