那天早晨，妈妈在摸我的腰时，我啥都感觉不到。妈妈马上带我去婶婶所在医院的急诊，拍了MRI核磁共振。医生说的确在片子里看到了些东西，但不知道是什么，于是一辆救护车把我送进了我现在所接受治疗的地方，westchester medical center,我住在一个非常好的医院，并且离家不远。在救护车上，我和妈妈两人还特兴奋：哇，第一次来美国医院就上这种车啊，太拉轰了吧！我直接进到了医院的重症监护室，隔壁房间的小孩子都是一副奄奄一息的样子，就我特清醒，像是来打打酱油的。从那天开始，我的手上就一直插了很多针管，直到医生为我做了一个手术，埋了一根管子到我的胸腔，这样输液和抽血就方便多了，不用用针扎我，我也不痛。哈，第一次做手术，我倒是不紧张，反正我睡我的大觉。后来医生又为我做了一个活检手术，将我癌细胞提出来一点拿去进行化验，确认到底是哪种瘤。因为我的这个癌细胞很难分辨，它们还把样品寄到了田纳西州（号称世界一流）的研究所作检验，最后结果出来，我的癌症叫做GBM，属于脑癌，不过我肿瘤出现的位置和形式，到现在医生还没找到过这种案例。医生说一般GBM都是一大团白色的东西集中在脑子里，而我的是粉末状，并且原发部位在腰部，他们从没碰见过。也真是幸运，脑中这些粉末状的东西基本没啥重量，所以没有很直接的压迫其他神经。
医院里还会有慈善组织来，我住院的时候，有一个组织叫Mikey’s way foundation来过，这位名叫Mikey的哥哥已经不在人世了，他考上哈佛，可是生了很罕见的胃癌。他在住院期间倍感孤独，于是觉得应该让病房里的小孩与外界开始沟通，了解了解病房外的世界，所以他希望送电子产品给病房里的小朋友。他的心愿由他的家人们帮他继续完成。推来的车上有ipad，iphone，itouch，小手提电脑，三星galaxy手机，平板电脑，可以从中选一个。我有点闷，看着这些机器，给大大的震惊了一下，那是我来美国后第一次真正的被触动到。他们了解到我以后想做服装设计师，就开始为我提各种各样的建议，向我推荐好的设计学校，一个个认真的写给妈妈。那天我感受到一颗善心的温暖，而我的善心也从那天开始，生根发芽。
当时他们为我打激素，所以我的胃口特别特别好，一会儿一个羊角面包，一会儿一个蝴蝶酥的，这脸肥的急死人。完全就是俩屁股夹着一鼻子。有时在病床上，看着自己的大肚子，轻轻摸摸，安慰自己，想象自己怀孕了。。住院期间还遇到一个好棘手的问题，那就是便秘。。有那么个连续的六天，啊偶，nothing comes out.当然医生又用大力神药，让本姑娘在一天里面与便便幽会六次。
圣诞节到了，Rose告诉我们有个机构叫Make A Wish，它们帮助生重病的小孩完成心愿。愿望可以是旅游，装修自己的房间，去见明星。。甚至还可以见总统。。。我想要一只小狗来陪我，哈，就是那只“Boss”，后来由于妈妈实在忙不过来还是送掉了。来的两名志愿者都特别开朗，她们非常认真的记录下我的每个小要求，并时不时发短信来关心我。把Boss送来的那天，她们还多给了2000多元的支票，说不希望我们因为觉得有了一只小狗而经济有压力。天哪，一切都是这么为我们着想。那么暖心。
我记得得病后第一次哭是因为英国学校的事。来到美国以后的生活和在中国的生活是天壤之别，我并不习惯这里的慢生活，我也不喜欢回家啥事都没有的感觉。而且我和这里的学生完全没有共同语言，他们发来的短信完全在闲聊瞎扯浪费时间，一点意思都没有。我想到了与哥哥妹妹一样前往英国学习。我知道我一个人在那里上这种贵族学校会要面对很多，他们培养的是简朴的贵族精神而不是享受奢侈生活。并且出来后的学生以后都会穿梭在世界一流名校的，我也想通过自己现在对学习的热情，努力到那个程度。我知道其实爸爸心里很希望我能进普林斯顿这种大学。我一提出这件事情，大家就开始操作了，叔叔马上帮忙联系学校，学校连参观的邀请都发来了。怎么样都要进这校门，我内心是很坚定地。我把我所有的梦想，所有的激情以及对未来的期待都寄托在了这件事情上面，当我知道我要错过这个机会的时候，我只感觉自己被击垮了。。未来。。怎么办。。这条路。。怎么走。。我上次写给小妹妹的那封信你也看过，我相信你一定感受得出我那时文笔下所隐藏的热情。大家都劝我说身体最重要，没了健康的身体，啥都做不成，可我就是放不下，放不下。那种想要紧抓但是发现自己握空的感觉，好难受。我尽量不让自己去想这些事情，心情些许好点。时间过去的久了，我也就再次学会放下啦。我们小镇专门为我请了两位老师来家里为我授课。数学老师Mr.William 还有英语老师（她还负责教我科学和美国历史）Elise。Elise70多岁了，当了很多年的老师，对中国很感兴趣，她经常跟我讨论中国的新闻，鼓励我表达自己的想法。每次上完课她都对我妈表扬我，说我是她执教那么多年遇到的最特别的学生之一。不过我们跟学校的进度严重脱节，没办法，其余的只好等回到学校以后补了。数学老师Mr.William是紧跟着学校的学习速度来给我上课的，每周来一次，把一周的作业布置掉，然后还给我extra work。美国的数学是简单的，但是书上的英文是讨厌的，大片的应用题。有些内容我会把意思搞错，看不懂，或是有些东西我漏掉了没学过。不过因为以前中国的数学把我练得杠杠的，老师觉得我很流弊。最让他惊讶的是我的作业，他从没见过错那么少和那么整洁的。。这也是在世外养成的好习惯，要求自己一定要做的干净，我曾经最享受的作业就是整理笔记。
A letter from Chloe
Hi, dear teacher Fu, it will be a very long letter…to record this very special year!
First I would like to talk about the symptoms I had before finding out about my cancer.
Actually, in the days when I went to Guangzhou for American immigrant visa, I was feeling myself behaving quite abnormal physically–I can’t walk in straight lines. Instead, I walk in a curving S line. I started to have headaches and backaches. Sometimes when I’m focusing to look on one object, I will start to feel dizzy, seeing blue sparks before my eyes. When I was trying to dance Latin, I feel like I couldn’t exert all my strength to dance. Mom once took me to the hospital to check, and I did a brain CT, but couldn’t find out about anything that’s happening to my body.
When I arrived in America, my waist began to hurt even more than the beginning, I wasn’t able to run, and afterwards I began to trip over when I walked. My family always thinks that it’s because of my sitting posture, they asked me to lie on the bed more and keep warm, but it didn’t work. At that time, the feeling of my back and below began to vanish slowly. And all of that led to my big day, June 3rd.2012.
That morning, when Mom was touching my waist, I couldn’t feel anything. Mom took me to the emergency of the hospital and at once took an MRI. The doctor said in the X-ray he did see something, but he wasn’t sure what it was. Thereupon, an ambulance took me to the place where I am now taking the treatment, Westchester Medical Centre. I stayed in a very nice hospital, and it’s not far away from home. On the ambulance, Mom and I were quite excited: “Wow, we got to sit in this kind of vehicle when it was only the first time we come to an American hospital, this is wicked!” I was directly sent to the PICU, the kids in the room close to me looked like they were at their last gasp, but I was the only one who stayed wide awake. I looked like I was just coming in for a visit. From this day, my hand began to fill up with many needle tubing, until the doctor did an operation on me with burying a broviac straight to my thorax. Therefore, it was much easier for transfusion and drawing blood from my system instead of using needle to jab me! It wasn’t hurting that much after that. Ha, it was my first operation, but I wasn’t really nervous. Well, I would just sleep safe and sound until the whole process was over. Later, the doctor did a biopsy operation for me, to extract few tumor from me and take them for testing, to confirm which cancer I had. Because my kind of cancer was hard to distinguish, they sent those slices to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for pathology tests. At last the results came out, my cancer was called GBM, belongs to the cerebral cancer. But according to the position and the form my cancer has appeared to be, doctors weren’t able to find that kind of case in history. The doctor said usually GBM appears to be a glob of white stuff concentrating on the brain, but mine was quite like powder spreading across the brain, and it originally started from the waist of my body, which they have never seen before. But luckily, the powder stuff in my brain hardly had any weight at all, so it wasn’t oppressing other nerves directly.
The day I was admitted to the hospital, I met the most experienced female doctor here just in time, Dr. Tugal. She was a nice and amiable old lady, my first attending doctor. (Doctors here work in team. There’s also doctors of neurosurgery, doctors of radiotherapy etc., Dr. Tugal is like the leader of the team.)What makes me really delighted was the environment, the doctors and the nurses. The children’s hospital that I was in was decorated quite like a small castle, with lots of exhibition places that made it feels like a tiny museum. All the rooms are single rooms, with a clean toilet, swept and garnished. There was a TV inside and an air bed, adjustable for sitting and lying. If I want to call the nurses, pressing the button is all I have to do. I can see the helicopter parking area outside my window, with lots of green planting area. The doctors here were kind and enthusiastic, that made me feel a sense of warmth. I could see those doctors hurriedly running, carrying suitcases in the hospital. Sometimes when it’s already the middle of the night, after doctor Tobias finished doing the operation without taking off his surgical gown, he would come up the stairs hurriedly to check if I’m alright. The nurses here were also responsible and nice. Sometimes, when they saw me alone, sad or bored, they would come and comfort me with jokes and encouraging words. Coming to America, I always want to leave people with a good impression of me. Often I would give them a smile when I first saw them. Time after time, smiling automatically became my habit, my signature. Almost everyone that came to my room remembered my smiley face.
Charity organizations often come to the hospital. When I was in hospital, there’s an organization called Mikey’s way foundation . The person that was called Mikey was no longer alive. He got into accepted Harvard, but had a rare kind of gastric cancer. He felt very lonely when he stayed in the hospital, so he thought it was necessary for children in the hospital to communicate with the outer world. His wish was fulfilled by his family. The trolley that came to my room consists of iPad, iPhone, iTouch, a mini laptop, Samsung galaxy mobile phone, tablet PC. I could choose one from them. I was quite bored at that time, so when I was staring at those devices, I was in a huge shock. It was the first time I felt touched after I arrived in America. They noticed that I wish to become a fashion designer in the future, they started to give me all sorts of advice—-introducing good designing schools to me, written down carefully for my mom. That day, I felt the warmth a good heart can bring, and my benevolence was also “germinated” from that day.
There were various activities in the hospital–watching magic tricks, making cakes, drawing, playing games and so on. But it was too childish for me! So in the ward I began to draw with all my passion. In my free time, I would look at the posters saved in my phone, to see if there’s anything I could use for reference. I would also go surfing online and watch television programs. In the hospital, I met a social worker called Rose, our first friend in America. She used to be a cancer sufferer, Dr. Tugal cured her. Rose is a lovely old lady who loves to put her phone into her breast pocket. She’s little short and chubby, with blonde hair and cherry lips, she looked really cute. She was always trying hard to help our family in every aspect, trying to make me happy. Sometimes when she goes for travel, she would bring presents for me in interesting stores. . Another person that set my remembrance most strongly was my nurse Geni. She’s very kind and often made jokes to me. She always wanted to introduce her daughter to me, and let us become good friends. What I feel here were their love for me and their passion for work. Even the people who did valvet parking at the hospital would help Mom to carry the heavy wheelchair.
At that time I was being injected with hormones, so my appetite was huge. One croissant…and after a minute…another butterfly cookie…My face soon turned chubby, it almost looked like a nose was stuck in a butt. Sometimes when I was in bed, staring at my muffin top, I would fumble with it and comfort myself and imaging that I was pregnant….When I was in hospital, there was a tough issue, that was constipation….For once, oh, nothing comes out in six days. Of course the doctor would use some powerful medicine that made me poop six times a day….
After I got out of the hospital, I had to go there every morning for radiation therapy. In order to let me not moving during the process, the doctors made a cast especially for me, allowing me to sleep comfortably. After the whole therapy was over, I received an award with all the signatures from the radiation therapy department.
The first round chemotherapy medicine was very strong. Every time I received it (once every two weeks), I always had vomiting and diarrhea, my stomach hurts with waves of pain. It was a feeling of suffocation, it felt like every organ in your body was about to explode. That period was the time I first came up with the thought of suicide. Sometimes I want to stab myself to death, how could it be so much pain? The more the chemotherapy received, the more the side effects happened. First, it was the hair. At the beginning, a few hairlines was just falling off, later the situation got worse, a slightest touch would lead to a pile of hair falling off. So I just let mom become “the country barber”, shaving all my hair off in the garden. When she was cutting my hair, I wasn’t feeling very sad or depressed. I knew it was the part that I had to experience so I wasn’t afraid of facing that. Mom was worried that I couldn’t accept the truth instantly, but what she didn’t know was I have already seen the new me in my phone screen. For a professional beauty queen, hormones have made me chubby which I accepted fully at ease, but letting me greet people bareheaded….That wasn’t acceptable! In the beginning I would wear wigs. When my uncle came, I would rush lamely to the kitchen (because I couldn’t walk at that time). Mom came and exclaimed at me: “Are you out of your mind?!” After a few seconds her furious eyes would return to calmness again, because she knew how I felt. Gradually, hair wigs no longer exists in my life. It was too much trouble, and in summer it would become even more of a problem. I finally deviated from the beauty queen path that I used to go for so many years! No matter how I appeared to be, I am just me, a beautiful me, just another beautiful firework bursting with flames.
The next problem became eating food. My huge appetite was caused by injecting hormones, now I no longer inject hormones, my stomach began to become on strike. Whenever I see food, I feel pain in my stomach. Eating was even harder, the taste was weird. Sometimes if I chew food for just little time, I would throw up everything. During that time, my weight was like China’s stock market, decelerating faster every day. Because I couldn’t take in food normally, I lacked energy, I would lie on the sofa in a daze, sleeping and resting. Chemotherapy is like using a nuclear bomb to kill a fly, and my body wasn’t able to take in nutrition I was supposed to get. When I thought about those days now, it was the worst and the most miserable days of my cancer treatment period. Every day I tried to avoid food like running away from a debt. I felt dizzy and faint. When I finally couldn’t take it anymore, I got a fever and went into the hospital again. The doctor then put in a NG tube through my nose so that nutrient solution would go directly into my stomach , at least it could guarantee the basic nutrition I need. That was the best way, and the only way.
I was never afraid when meeting new things, having an exploring spirit, so the first time I was putting the NG tube, I neither cried nor screamed. Doctor put the tube into my stomach easily. But the tube needed to be changed every month, and it’s easily coming out when I was vomitting. So there were many troubles occurring in the hospital because of that. Sometimes the tube couldn’t get into the stomach but came out from the mouth, sometimes the tube was tied into a knot in my throat (when the tube was pulled out, my nostrils largen…) basically every time it was putting, I would have a bloody nose. So putting the NG tube became the thing I was afraid of the most. When I heard about doing it again, I would shiver, weep and wail. But the more times it happened, the more experience I had. The trick was to sit up straight, lower your head, and when the tube touched your throat, start swallowing your saliva. Ha, this trick worked all the time. Basically the process was non-recurring using this trick. I had a bloody nose every single day, because the chemotherapy medicine has killed my white blood cells at the same time. I lost my immunity and couldn’t go to public places. I had to do everything carefully, aware of the fact that bacteria could go into my body at any time. During a few months time, because my white blood cells index was too low, the doctor gave me the GCSF to allow the chemotherapy to continue normally. At first I thought it just go through the broviac in my body, with no pain at all. Well, who knows, nurse Geni showed me a pack full of needles. I had to take the injection every two weeks. How nice….The pain of being injected by needles was what I hated the most….As a result, mom became the family nurse. She pushed the syringe very slowly, only because she was worried that I would be in pain.
My birthday last year, was quite weird, but unforgettable. Typhoon Sandy came that night, maybe arriving knowing it was my birthday….There was a blackout that night and I blew the candles in the dark. What touched me the most was I received the 12 o’clock birthday wishes from my friends in China. Thank you, teacher Fu, I’m really touched. Even though I couldn’t see you, I could feel the joy and happiness you brought for me. After I got sick, everyone was concerned about me, trying their best to cheer me up. Many of my classmates’ parents followed my Weibo and Wechat, encouraging me. Like Sophia’s mom, basically every tweet that I posted, her comments were below. Cindy and Angela came to see me, when I met them, I became more talkative than I used to be, spilling out everything I wanted to say in weeks. A friend of dad from China Television invited me to see the show of China’s Got Talent and The Voice of Asia in New York City. That was the first mini trip that I took since I got sick. I slept well in the hotel. And ever since then, I found out that I could slowly begin to take in food.
Christmas arrived. Rose told me that there’s an organization called Make a Wish, it helped sick children to fulfill their wishes. You could go to travel, decorate your own room, see celebrity….You could even meet the president! I want a dog to accompany me, Ha, “boss” came. But later because mom was too busy, and boss was barking too much that making me headache, we had to give it away. The two volunteers that came was very out-going, they carefully recorded every little wish of mine, and sometimes texted to check if I’m doing well. The day “Boss” arrived, they gave an extra 1000 dollars check, saying that they wouldn’t want us to have financial pressure because the arrival of “Boss”. God, everything, everyone was caring for us. So touching!
The first round of the therapy has gone on for half year, the tumor was well controlled, but the problem was, did it shrink? I think we should give an ending to that.
My second visiting staff showed up—Dr. Jubinsky!!!!
The doctor looked almost like a (can’t find right words in English) , messy hair, messy mustache. The first time we met, I felt strange. When my first round of therapy was not certain, he brought his assistant Mocher to our hospital, like God has already paved the path for us. After several meetings with him, I noticed he has followed my kind of disease for five years. The cocktail chemotherapy medicine I used for the second round was matched and studied by him, with fewer side effects than the former one. The only thing to concern was the decrease of the platelet. This round of chemotherapy’s concept was close to Chinese way of curing a conservative therapy, doing chemotherapy and trying not to harm other cells. Maybe the time of curing might take longer, but I could live with the tumor, like a normal human being. Everyone felt satisfied with this plan. A patient had the same GBM like me, his tumor was compressing his nerves heavily. Mocher said the first time he saw him, he thought this kid wouldn’t survive. The kid’s family followed Dr. Jubinski all the way, from their hometown to here. After using Dr.J’s cocktail medicine for eight months, his tumor has shrinked a lot. We were all excited when we heard about it, it meant I had a great chance being cured. The therapy was decided, but the insurance company wouldn’t take it. In America, everyone buys medical insurance. People who works pay every month, when they get sick, the insurance company would pay all the expenses. The cocktail medicine from Dr.J was extremely expensive (If the insurance company had to pay, they had to pay at least twenty thousand dollars every month.) Since these cocktail medicines were researched by Dr.J himself, there was not enough evidence to prove the therapy would work, so the insurance company refused to pay. For about a month I wasn’t getting any treatment, Rose, the doctors and the insurance company had a “war”. Oh you wouldn’t know how much power was hidden in an old lady like Rose, she was furious when she was talking with the insurance company on the phone, swearing. After the call her anger hasn’t gone, so she gave a middle finger….Rose said what they did was not only for me, if the insurance company continues to be irresponsible, there will be more children that can’t be cured. She called the state councilor asking for help. Wicked! Later they came up with a great idea—asking the medicine factory directly for medicine. My therapy was already been delayed for a month, so we could not wait. The medicine company agreed to give us medicines free for one year. Doctors could use this one year time to fight with the insurance company, there was enough time.
Because of that month, the tumor in my head and in my back increased a bit. After doing chemotherapy for a few days in the hospital, there was a distinct recovery—my back no longer hurt and my legs could be raised.
The only thing that disappointed me was my leg was still cramped. This problem has troubled me for half a year. My leg only stopped cramping when I was asleep or when I just woke up. The doctors couldn’t do anything about it. But my leg hurt less these days, and I felt everything was getting better. Recently doctor gave me a little hormones, and my appetite… was huge…I increased 3 pounds in a few days, but no longer needed my NG tube, Ha! Furthermore, there was a chubby uncle who was excellent at cooking came and visited me. He studied cookery in Switzerland for one year. At that time he was teaching Chinese cuisine in school, earned the school’s money….These days he stuffed me up with his amazing dishes, and taught mom a few.
Sometimes I got a little depressed, there were a thousand thoughts in my mind wanting to be express, but not knowing what to say. Letting mom to talk with me always made me feel better. For instance, talking about how much I missed you guys, how much I wanted to travel, how much I missed Shanghai’s mall(Shanghai’s Grand Gateway….Metrocity….Raffles….The shops in America malls were not in my favor. That Abercrombie & Fitch, was what I loathe the most! It has no design at all, just comfortable. And Claire’s, all the items in there was quite tacky. I still liked Accessorize in Raffles City, too bad here there was none. And the Japanese natural style that I liked, the French romantic style, I couldn’t find any here. Because I was interested in designing and drawing, this all made me sad.)I studied Latin dancing for five years, sometimes when I was rehearsing in the teacher’s house I completely indulged myself in it. The dance competition that took place recently made me feel passionate. How could it be this beautiful? I couldn’t help but moved my neck and my hip with the beat. My emotions came and went quickly, dropped a few tears, but after a few minutes, it would all go away. And I found myself not like what I appeared to be, the calmer I appeared to be, the more excited I felt on the inside.
I remembered the first time I cried was because of the British school. The life I had after I arrived in America compared to when I was in China was completely different. I wasn’t used to the slow motion life here. I also didn’t like the non-pressure I felt when I came back from home every day. Plus I had not enough common topic with the students here. I thought about going to Britain to study like my brother and my sister. I knew I would have to encounter a lot of obstacles alone in the elite school there. What they cultivate is the modest elite spirit instead of enjoying the lavish life. The students there would be in world’s top universities one day. I wanted to achieve that through my passion for study now. I knew dad secretly really wanted me to go to Princeton University. When I first asked about this, everyone started to help me. Uncle began to contact the school, and the school sent the open day invitation. No matter what I had to step in the school gate, I was sure of that. I placed my entire dream, all my passion and all my hope for my future on this. When I knew I was about to miss this opportunity, I felt I lost all my battles…My future…What to do…This path….How to walk….You have seen the letter I wrote to Black, so you could feel the passion inside my words. Everyone was telling me that my body health was the most important thing, without a healthy body, you couldn’t achieve anything. But I just couldn’t let go, I just couldn’t. That feeling of holding on to something so tightly but discovering that I’ve lost it hurts. I tried my best not to let myself think of those things, and I felt better. Time after time, I learnt to give in again.
After I got sick the thing I enjoyed the most was drawing. I’ve been researching it and found many types, for example how to use color pencils, and the classification of color pens…Because of the tumor, I couldn’t focus on reading books, I felt dizzy once I saw black words printed on white paper, not to mention reading English novels. (Ha, what I’m doing currently is collecting pretty 3D books and designing books, God these are the combination of artists’ intelligence)Uncle found me an amazing art school, hoping that the school could send a teacher. At first what we chose was a teacher who got her painting hanging on the wall, but she was too busy to teach me. Luckily, I met my current teacher, the 51-year-old Joe. Joe just ended his world trip that lasted for months. He later told me that, when he heard about me, he felt like he should come and teach me. Just like that, the bid bare-headed met the small bare-headed. He was always encouraging me to publish my own drawing collection, and I considered about that. I thought I was so lucky that I could meet him, he could do anything, he could teach me sewing, could teach me to make mud dolls, could teach me to design…Photoshop….That stuff was supreme!!!!Supreme!!!!The teacher I was supposed to get could only do portrait painting. When I first met him, I was actually very reserved, didn’t like to talk to people. I haven’t made friends in a long time, I didn’t know what to do, how to say hi, how to chat with people. He really pulled me out of it. He saw that I was a little self-abased, so he always gave me warmth and sunshine, always encouraged me with soft words. But my painting always made him satisfied. He said he never met anyone who liked drawing that much, and anyone who was so easy to teach. His heart was young, sometimes made me feel like I was with my Shanghai friends….I once remembered I joked with mom one night saying:” Mom, do you think I would ever meet someone like Arthur, who had such a good temper?” Mom said with a firm tone:” Find one like Joe!”
I met the Korean James and a large circle of friends through Joe. I have only been here for a year….And I had more friends than uncle who has lived here for twenty years….James used to be from the Korean Special Forces, he opened a jewelry shop after he arrived in America. He used to make jewelry for many celebrities. He said if he uses the same material to make a Tiffany necklace which is worth 1000 dollars, it will only cost him 20 dollars…..Every time when it’s his wife’s birthday or their wedding anniversary, he would make pretty jewelry by himself. Later he met his master, I think it was the turning point of his life. He closed the jewelry shop (Because it was quite deceiving people….Now he opened a dry clean shop, he said helping people to do cleaning, was also cleaning himself inside. We always played in his shop.) And do spiritual exercises with his master for two years in the mountains. What they eat was only something like vegetable drinks. James was born a psychic with strong powers in his body. He could see through your body, and feel your spirit. These two years he worked with his group of friends, to help cancer patients to increase their immunity, letting the patients to use their good cells fight with the bad. Many patients were tagged “death” by the doctors, but through their help, their tumor is shrinking. About this group of people, there are so many magical things to share with you. In the letter I only shared the most important things they brought me, and they were the most precious things I have learnt since I got sick.
From the first time I saw James, they always gave me positive thoughts, telling me that I would be fine, letting me learn to say thank you. It was full of love whenever I was with them. They didn’t mind the gender difference, they hugged whenever they wanted, and they hit each other whenever they wanted. James pointed to his heart and said to me:” Our group of friends didn’t use our rational thinking, we use here. We hug because we love, who cares if we’re man or woman.” I found out that they always said “Thank you, food!’ before they eat. At first I thought it was ridiculous. Saying thank you when you drink a cup of water? That’s absurd. Thank you, eyes, for letting me see the change of the seasons~ Thank you, ears, letting me listen to the sound of the nature~ Thank you, fingers, for letting me type letters to Teacher Fu~ They wanted me to thank everything on earth every day. In the beginning I wasn’t used to it, and I was quite disdain to do that. But after saying it for several times, I was in love with that feeling. I love the feeling when I was thanking all things on earth, soaking in the first rays of morning sun. It was beautiful, it was happiness, and it was pure. I love this way of cherishing happiness, making me feel that I am living fully, enriching my life, making me feel I had everything, and lacked nothing. I’m grateful about everything God has given me, the life God has given me. Countless “thank you” is combined into a happy bareheaded girl, a bareheaded girl who lived in honey and sugar.
I am so grateful and gratified with my present life because I feel the profound love from my family. If there wasn’t this disease, I couldn’t ever perceive the strength and warmth my family gave me. I can feel and I can sense the connections between every family member, though sometimes we are separated by the boundless sea. I cannot even recall once that my mom has done housework or has cooked, however, after we came to this distant place, she has dealt with everything on her own. I know she is exhausted not only physically but also mentally because of my illness. My mom is always a pepperbox, and is also sensitive to the surrounding things. Every time when I bend my knees a little bit while walking, she is so worried that tears are gathering in her eyes. Sometimes when I fall, the first most critical thing to do is to comfort her and tell her that I’m fine. James has found out that my mom is the more vulnerable one between us and actually, I am not the one needing their comfort, from the very beginning. He convinced my mom once as the following: “Chloe has a really strong and pure soul, and she is a real believer and fighter. Now, the key problem is about you. You have to stay strong and calm. You should believe that Chloe will be fine.” James and his friends always talk on and on with my mom, to help her to stay calm. Now she has a huge progress and is more cool-headed, as I think. She is becoming more and more hilarious and lively, just like the host in talk shows under my tuning as I am always trying to make fun of her at home. We are more like best friends forever instead of being mother and daughter. Sometimes my pants slip down, she will be blushing and say “Wow, Bubble Butt!” And once in a while, she is thinking about giving me new nicknames. Little bare head? Boiled egg? Or kiwi fruit? Or little peach? Once, I asked her: “Mom, what’s your biggest wish?” She smiled, and answered without hesitation: “I want two little half-bloods to accompany me, one boy and one girl.”(James has predicted that I would have four children in the future, and the order of their birth is: girl, boy, boy, girl. Pay attention, their father would be one person. As for if they are half-bloods, how would I know?) Since I got sick, I have had the privileged to buy everything I want. Last time when Cindy came to visit me, I chose a box of coloured pencils which was awesome without seeing the price. Later when my mom paid for it, she exclaimed: “Oh, my god! 230 dollars? Seriously?” My mom never refuses my request and fulfills every need I have, although I have spent a lot on purchasing clothes on the web, following the picture albums of my favorite artists, and buying pop-up books. Sometimes, when I cannot look at the price myself, I tell her that she should pretend she doesn’t know that. Merely, she still bought them for me without any complaints. If this happened four years ago, she would blame me. I remember once I bought a dress in Shanghai which was 16 dollars, she blamed me for the whole afternoon, called me “material girl” and used a calculator to show my monthly spending flow. Afterwards, she was quite satisfied and pleased with her photography on me in this pretty, 16 dollar dress. However, these kinds of problems and complaints never exist anymore now.
The most delightful thing is my dad’s behaviors. Actually, he has never blamed me once up till now. When I was little, I took away other’s stuff once, and my parents were both so disappointed. My mom blamed me, and my dad was depressed, really depressed, but he just said a few words: “Chloe, why do you do that? We can give you everything you want.” He didn’t criticize me, and I did not really feel his true love to me. All these years, the communication ways between him and me are hardly intimate, with no hugs, no kisses, no petting heads. That subtle figure is standing behind me and gazing at me. He has a lot of social niceties but no business trips, is always drunk and always gets the smell of the disgusting cigarettes. I only remember a few things I have done together with him: 1). I always pull his underwear off when I was little and he was trying so hard to escape 2).We did boxing together, but always started to tickle each other at last 3). He led me out, and bought whatever I wanted. Anything else? Eh. None. I am always confused and obsessed by one thing: Does he really love me or not? I know the answer must be a positive one, but I just want to feel it more. The person who illuminated me and answered my question is the uncle who really can cook very well. Last September, my father and he just came here to visit me. When he and I were having a private conversation, he suddenly stared at me and said: “Chloe, you father really really loves you, so much.” These words had truly given me strength and faith. Although I was seemingly calm, my eyes had already got moist and my tears were gathering. Gradually, I started to notice something I had never discovered, like his moist eyes when I felt sad, or like his special attention to my poor hair when he was in New York, even when we were on Facetime. Incontinence is one of the side effects of my sickness, but he never gets impatient with it. Sometimes when this happened in midnight, he didn’t want to wake my mom up, so he just quickly handed me over some neat clothes to me, cleaned the toilet, and bent down to clean the floor. He was so proficient about this that he seemed accustomed. I was so touched that I cried covering myself in the bed. I could never imagine that my dad could do these things for me. He was also presented in a prestigious form in my heart. This is so exaggerated, so overstated. Later, when I mentioned this, he just smiled and said: “Don’t you know that your diapers were all changed by me?” When he went back to Shanghai from New York, he was so exhausted. He had more than 30 appointments in 38 days once. He looked so sallow in the video, however, he insisted on going through all the supermarkets in our district to find all the things I like to eat. For him, cigarettes were something he is addicted to and can’t live without. They were there holding in his hands whenever and wherever. This had been his habit for decades and no matter how I persuaded him, he never gave in. But ever since I was sick, he has made a promise with me: as long as I try to ingest some food every day and exercise, he will reduce the amount he smokes. And when I can walk like a normal person, he will completely give up smoking. Oh my god! This had already been listed in the “Impossible”. How can this ever come true? I am so excited!
My dad used to have a really good job in Shen Zhen, but after he married my mom, he moved to Shanghai. He was a common employee like everyone else, getting low salary 80% of 100 dollars per month (at that time, my mom already could earn more than 1200 dollars per month). He was always working so hard, and until now, he has his own business and provides my mom and me with a cozy and comfortable environment. In this process, there were days with no money and a lot of difficulties, obstacles and setbacks, but he got over them one by one. In my mom’s words, it is: “We were almost at a dead end when he was 43.”I admire him a lot and regard him like a lighthouse in the dark, but I used to feel like there is a wall between us, separating us. I did not know how my dad felt about his daughter. I just wanted to feel it. But after I was sick, our relationship was closer and more often. I started to like his presentation at dinner time which I used to get sick of and totally have no interest in his lecture of the boring news articles and fun facts. For the first time, I felt his love, his passion and his wisdom. Just right before his departure from NewYork, I received a text message from him, which I was so sure I could not forget for my entire life. In this message, I heard the words that brighten my world: “Chloe, god dealt some thorny cards for you to play, you held them courageously and played them out calmly. I am so proud of you, my beloved daughter.”
I came up with an idea that I would like to travel around the world after I am cured. I did a plan for the whole routines, searched about different culture of different parts of the world and planned to study while travelling. My dad called this a “study tour” and considered this more useful than just going to school because this enabled me to look at the world from different perspectives and explore the beauty of the world. I told him about my planning for my future. Although my way of studying was odd and different and maybe I would never enter a prestigious university like Harvard, I was following a path which suited me most and made me most gratified and happy. He responded: “The path which suits you most is the best and this is elite education. The society is diverse, and universities like Harvard will not probably shape an all-round person.” He never sees me as naïve child, and he shares every idea he has with me, like the book he likes, or even his business. I have gained a lot from these, and I have learned his way of critical thinking and his scenarios for different situations.
We are closer and closer to each other. I can feel it now.
I got more freedom after I was sick. I felt free and unrestrained. Although most of my time was spent at home, my mind was free and broad. I started to do the things I had never done in Shanghai, like collecting pop-up books crazily, browsing the Amazon just to find something related to art, following my favorite illustrators, or even outlining my own illustrations. There are limitations for me to buy clothes in the U.S, but it is a paradise to buy art albums and books. I think I have really learned and explored a lot of potential things here.
I love this kind of life now, with no rushing and no pressure. I have learned to unload some burden and be humorous when facing negative things. I also have comprehended that giving is more meaningful than receiving and demanding, as well as thinking for others more and changing perspectives instead of being selfish. I feel so worried and distressed to see my mom being exhausted. The society in the U.S. makes me feel like helping others, and doing anything I can do to make a different. I am determined to help others and repay all the people who have cared about me and loved me. In just a year, I have experienced ups and downs which others may not encounter through their entire lives. I also have felt the connections between my family and me. I was even surprised by my own growth through last year. If I did not get this disease, it would take me decades to get these. Really, I always think that this disease is a gift from the god and I am the lucky guy to get it. It has let me find the beauty around me has let me learn the truth of life and has let me feel grateful and gratified for all I have. Eventually, I understand why adults always say we are the ones who do not know we are born in fortunate. I must be the most fortunate girl in the whole world to be a part of this family.
Dear Mr. Fu, I know you have been unhappy these days. But I think you must have adjusted yourself and feel better now since you are such an illuminating and optimistic person. I do not really know what the best way is to comfort you on this occasion. I believe in Buddhism, therefore, I believe in fate. The things you did in your past life results in your present life. If you two did not belong to each other in your past life, then you would not be made to be together this time. If you take a long-term consideration, it will not be a big deal any more. Maybe you will have already gotten a consummate family in a certain point of the future, or maybe you enjoy the life of being single more. Who knows? If you are supposed to be together, then nothing will separate you. In contrast, if you two are not the determined couple, you will eventually be apart someday. We all know these facts, but we just do not want to accept them and face them sometimes. I was once lovelorn too, but after all, it just passed. Now that eight-month relationship has been really splendid to look back and to recall. I really feel gratitude to him for all the happy time we spent together and for him looking after me. I just want to convey my apology to him because I had made some many mistakes in this relationship and had not cherished his love. Presently, I just want to be friend with him, a true friend. All the things no matter positive or negative will all be forgotten by time, through the wind year after year. You say that life is a misery. But I don’t think there is anything which can replace “life”. All the misfortunes are just a part of the series of experiences. You have to know what you are experiencing. The most precious thing to own is a pure soul, accumulating blessing to next life.
Buddhism, so far has purified my soul. For example, I would feel jealous when I saw other people owned something I am eager to get in the past. But now, I won’t. In contrast, I will congratulate them genuinely because that is what they deserved to have through their hard work. Every time when the evil side of me appears, I will adjust myself in time. Time over time, my heart has become clean, pure and honest. I have also become more tolerant and generous without any fussing. I will not be mad at all when others criticize me. Moreover, I won’t save my gratitude to others and I will try my best to do good for them. My mom asked me: “Why did your love become so universal now?” I pinched my chubby face and replied: “You all treat me like a little Buddha. You see, I have been more and more alike to a Buddha.” I believe God won’t abandon any of the pure hearts because everything we do has been supervised, although we don’t know. That’s pretty much I want to talk to you. (I’m so speechless now because I have gained so much from this illness.)
Mr. Fu, there are so many ups and downs in our life. But when you put yourself on the time of decades of years later, you will find out these difficulties are so insignificant. If I divide a person’s life in to several decades, it will sound really short, won’t it? As so, in the following time, I will magnify all the happiness and be grateful. Mentioning the most important person in my life, except my parents, is you. We, 27 class-9 students will miss you wherever we are, because you have brought us so many happy and unforgettable memories and somehow change our lives. You deserve all of the love from us. The 14-year-old yearbook is for you, forever and whenever. I really hope that we can have a graduation trip which undoubtedly will become everyone’s most meaningful and memorable experience. Saying goodbye is the most painful thing in the world, but it is farewell which makes reunion and gathering cheerful and makes the memory precious and important.
God is fair. When he closes a door, he will open a window for you. You will never be perfect, but you will have something worth cherishing. He will compensate for what you lose, and will take away something that is too much. However, these fragments are the ones formed a splendid life. The key of experiencing life is your mind.
From Chloe Chen
2013. 05. 30