My Mother-in-law passed away unexpectedly on April 22, 2017. Our family has been completely devastated. The pain is still very fresh and I’m having a hard time coping. Kenny and I had just spent the week with Kenny’s parents in his hometown of Newport News, Virginia. We had taken Lili, as I called her (Cantonese for Mother-in-law) out to eat for her birthday April 13 at a Schlesinger’s and had gone to church with her on Easter Sunday. She had loved on us, cooked for us, and taken care of us. We had no idea she was sick that week. She never told us. I believe that she was a bit sick but just didn’t want us to know.
I’ve experienced deaths before. But this one really caught me and our family off guard. Early Saturday April 22, 2017, Kenny had gotten a text saying his Mom was in the hospital with pneumonia. We were surprised because she had been fine when we had seen her. She had flown to NYC with Kenny’s Father to meet up with Kenny’s brother and his wife. That morning after getting the text, Kenny spoke to his brother and their Dad about their Mom and confirmed she was in the hospital. Barely half an hour later Kenny got a phone call from his Father saying that his Mom had suffered cardiac arrest and passed away. We were crazy with grief. I had to call my parents to take care of Roxy and Carissa because Kenny and I couldn’t hold ourselves together. We have a family of doctors and medical administrators. My Mother-in-law was a retired nurse. But not one person figured out that she had pneumonia until it was too late. It kills me to know that perhaps a simple course of anti-biotics or going to the hospital sooner might have saved her life. I know it was her time to go. But my heart still can’t accept it. We didn’t have any time to prepare for it. I’m grateful that we spent that last week with her but we weren’t ready to say goodbye.
My Mother-in-law was good to me. She was a Mom to me. She loved and accepted me from day 1. I remember meeting her in 2007. She walked into Kenny’s place when he was in med school and immediately gave me a hug and said “Jackie, it’s nice to meet you!” She must have noticed I was nervous because she said, “Don’t worry, we already like you!” “You’re short like me and you went to college!” (She was 4’10, the same height as me.)
We canceled all our plans for the week after she passed. We flew back to Virginia for the funeral. It was held at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the very church we had gone to for Easter mass just 2 weeks before. It was good to be around family. But it was hard to stay in my husband’s childhood home and feeling that Lili’s spirit was just all around us. It was hard to hear Kenny’s Father say, “She wasn’t supposed to go first, I was supposed to go first!” I wanted her to watch our daughters grow up and go to their graduations and possibly even their weddings.
I’m trying to help Kenny cope. Even Roxy is grieving. She’s been crying because she misses Ma-ma (Cantonese for paternal grandmother). Roxy is afraid something will happen to Daddy and Mommy. We are trying to work through our grief but everywhere we look, we see memories of her. I still honestly start to text her only to realize that she isn’t here anymore. I can’t believe she will never call me again. I miss everything about my Mother-in-law, her cooking, her sense of humor, the way she would call me just to check on me. She had given birth to 4 sons. But when I married Kenny, I really became her daughter, in all senses of the word. I miss Mom.
I know that over time, we will heal and our lives will normalize again. I’m going to be honest and say that our family is still grieving badly. But I look to my husband and my girls for comfort. I’m glad I have them. I’m worried about my Father-in-law who now will live alone. I will honor my Mother-in-law Eva Kwan Yee Wah Cheung by honoring the God who made her and by being the best wife, Mommy, daughter, granddaughter, niece, sister, and aunt to my family and friend to our friends. I look at Roxy and Carissa and I know Lili’s legacy will continue to live on. I’m not going to lie. Our family is hurting badly right now. Please pray that God will give us comfort and peace. Please pray that my Father-in-law will be able to find meaning and purpose in his life without my Mother-in-law. I thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. *HUGS*
Dr. Jacqueline Cheung, also known as Jax, grew up in Sacramento, California. She is a Christian Wife, Proud Mom, Major Foodie, Sacramento Native, Elk Grove Resident, Feminist, Adoption Advocate, Blogger, Freelance Writer, and Cat Lover. Jax is the owner of the award winning Jax Chronicles blog & adoption ministry. She also works as a Freelance Writer and writes for Sacramento4Kids, the Elk Grove Laguna News, and many other publications. Jax is married to Dr. Kenneth Cheung (Kenny). Jax and Kenny live in Elk Grove, California and have 2 daughters named Roxy and Carissa, and 3 cats named Mochi, Miso, and Mango. You can follow her journey on Instagram @jaxchronicles, her Jax Chronicles Facebook page , or her Jax Chronicles blog.