It’s Sept. 6 again, a day that marked the passing of my father five years ago.
I rushed to Changchun, China, less than two weeks from return for a visit there. Having been able to spend some time with my father shortly before his passing didn’t provide any comfort to ease the pain.
I was thankful, however, that my sisters in China arranged everything for the final farewell and the burial of his ashes.
I still remember the sharp pain, emotionally and physically, in my heart for more than six months, missing him desperately and talking with my sister, Xiaowen, in China several times a week.
My father had been fighting with lung cancer for over three years and he was 86 when he succumbed to it. But the expected end didn’t reduce the terrible pain of the loss—only a person who has gone through the experience of losing a parent can feel the weight of the blow.
For a long time, I clang to the pain so as to keep him alive in my heart. I thought of him numerous times a day and carried silent conversations with him, especially early in the morning when I was swimming. I envisioned his face in the blue sky or behind the floating clouds, and imagined hearing his voice, with a heavy Shandong accent, hearty and loud.
Since then, every year when I went to China to visit my mother and my sisters, we would pay a tribute to him at the cemetery, bringing flowers, fruits, his favorite liquor and cigarettes, and telling him what was going on in our lives.
With each passing year, the pain eased, and the tender and fond memories of him filled its place.
Today, as my brother and all my sisters went to his tomb to pay another tribute, I resort to words from afar, hoping above hopes that he would take comfort in knowing he is dearly missed and loved, wherever he is up there.
Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning feature-length documentary film by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit www.mulberrychildmovie.com for more information.