I apologize for the long silence. The reason is that I traveled to China in August with my husband Tobias. I spent precious time with my parents, my brother and sister in law, and my niece who visited from Jakarta and joined us in Shenzhen and Hong Kong. We also went to Macau briefly, followed by a wonderful trip to Beijing that has left me and Tobias overwhelmed by the vast pace and development in China.
I hadn’t returned to Beijing since my diagnosis 15 months ago, and I was nervous about the long flight and far-away land from Germany. But it was fine, I had a wonderful and memorable trip.
(Herewith pictures that tells how I spent my days in China Trip.)
::: LESSONS FROM SHENZHEN
(1) DREAM COMES TRUE
Tobias and I have always wanted to go to China, the land where I spent half of my life. The idea was kind of like an impossible dream for us.
Since I have been diagnosed with late stage brainstem cancer, my future is unknown and no longer belongs to me, not that it ever belonged to me, I just used to think it did before having been diagnosed. All I have now is my present. That’s it. And I want to live it to the fullest.
Last year, my parents were here in Germany for my biopsy and took care of me after my biopsy. Reconciliation happened between us during those two months.
During the past 10 years, when I lived in Beijing, I used to spent only a week with my parents in Jakarta during Chinese New Year holiday, minus busy meeting with friends. So, back then, my relationship with my parents was not so close. I rarely called them, and it was them who regularly called once every week or two weeks and asked how am I doing.
In my heart, my parents were always my priority, I think of them a lot, I love them so much that I would give everything for them. But in action, I failed.
I grew up in a conservative traditional Chinese culture, and we don’t know how to express affection. I never see my parents holding hands or kissing or hugging, not even saying word of appreciation, including to me. Therefore my way is by buying things for them, which usually they will be angry to me complaining that I’m throwing away money.
So last year in Germany, my relationship with my parents transformed. I don’t know how long I will live and I wanted to show them my love. That time, finally we talked heart to heart, we listened, we hugged. I finally told my mom, “Ma, you look so beautiful.”
So, this trip to meet my parents again in Shenzhen was my dream. I wanted to see them again, and also my 2-years old niece for the first time (we always see each other through video call).
Amazingly, since this year I’ve got fitter day by day. August came, and I was able to realise my long term goal. I came to China and met my family.
(2) LOVE LANGUAGE
Spending 10 days with my parents, my brother’s family of 3 in one apartment was challenging.
In the beginning I thought we will sit down and have an emotional heart-to-heart conversation a lot. Well, that was not happening.
Here is what happened: every morning, my home was noisy and busy with my dad playing with his granddaughter, while my mom and sister in law were busy in the kitchen cooking, and my brother is watching tv. Then, after not-waiting-for-others breakfast, we walked in the park followed by strolling in shopping malls, there most of the time they were chasing after Yuna who runs like crazy. During dinner, in the restaurant, we ate so fast. Eating slowly and talking while enjoying wine like in western culture is not happening.
My mom keep asking me if I want this or that, if she should cook my favourite dish, and many things that started to annoy me.
Honestly, one day I was crying because I feel everybody is busy doing stuff. I missed them. But when I learned to put down my expectation of how things should done according to my way, I start seeing the perfect family I have with their imperfections.
Instead of telling my mom not to trouble herself in the kitchen, I went to the kitchen and helped her. There we talked while I choped veggies and she peeled potatoes. When I ate and praised her for the burgers she made, she was happy.
Instead of waiting for the perfect time to go to a quiet cafe with my dad, I sat down with him in the living room watching the Asian Games sports event on TV. We talked about sports and China.
Instead of complaining how my brother and sister in law are bringing up Yuna. I sat down with them and listened to stories about Yuna’s in Jakarta, while Yuna acts annoyed because she is feeling ignored by us busy chatting.
I aware of the fact that I don’t know when I can see them again. So, I put down my way. I see love.
Oh how I miss that moment when my dad always wanted to accompany us wherever we go in Shenzhen, such as dealing with Chinese banks, talking to computer repair shops to repair Tobi’s MacBook, even to the drugstore to buy cough syrup. He took care of everything as if I don’t know how to do it properly *sigh*.
How I miss my mom when she’s giving me non-stop advice what to eat and what not to eat during chemo.
How I miss the look of my brother when he is worried about me walking too much while he himself was tired chasing Yuna in the park, or when he bought for me oily fried rice noodles for breakfast, etc.
I miss my niece knocking on the bathroom door and shouting “gugu tingting!” (means: aunty Titien!), or when I secretly passed her chocolate and she ran to my bedroom to eat it.
Spending time with them even sometimes drives me crazy, yes, it also the purest of joys, the purest of love.
I love you, my noisy busy-bee family. Be well. Until we meet again..
(to be continued..)