One of the saddest moments this year has been my favorite aunt passing away. My “I-Yee” was a rock for us: she was a big sister and best friend to my mom, a pillar of strength for her six children, and a beloved aunt and friend to the rest of us kids growing up.
The funeral was last month in Seattle and I couldn’t attend due to starting a new job. That day, I was rather sad knowing that I wouldn’t be there in person to wish her goodbye. Just only a couple of months earlier, during a Skype chat, I saw her fatigued yet hopeful face, and I knew then it would be the last time I’d see her.
When the doctor first confirmed her cancer, we were told she would only have a few months to live. She lived for almost two years more. All of us felt blessed that we got that extra time with her!
No doubt, my IYee had a tough life raising six kids in a new country where she barely spoke English with a semi-absent husband. She still managed to remain resilient and optimistic with her words of encouragement and steady presence.
My IYee had a wonderful sense of humor and a tremendously positive outlook in life. Sometimes family members would vent and share frustrations, and my IYee often responded in the most Buddhist way with “It’s okay. Life is short. Love your kids no matter what, no matter how different their paths may take them.” She embodied true openness and love.
Her heydays were in Hong Kong where she grew up as a teenager. As a young thriving soul, she used to cruise through the Hong Kong markets, arm in arm with her friends. She frequented the wonton noodle shops and window-shopped with curiosity. And someone told me that back then, she loved riding on the back of a friend’s motorcycle, laughing and smiling with not a care in the world. I’d like to keep that image in mind whenever I think of her now.
When we received the news about her death last month, we were prepared. We had known for months that the day would come soon. Acceptance had come in and through us, and all that was left was the waiting. But still, on the day of her death last month, I cried. How can she leave us? I was then comforted with an image of her younger days when she used to ride the back of a motorcycle with her hair whipping back, the sun warm on her face. She lived her life, freely and openly with a positive attitude that touched so many of us.
Rest in peace IYee. We will miss you so much.