Godspeed. A Daughter's Eugoogooly for her Mother.

I wanted to share this with the world. My eugoogooly (thank you Zoolander for that!) for my mom, Jade Yong, who passed away on November 23rd, 2012. Whether you knew my mom or not, you know know she was an amazing selfless, loving mom.

She was diagnosed with Stage 2 Pancreatic Cancer (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pancreatic_cancerin July 2008, had the Whipple Procedure done (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pancreaticoduodenectomy) in August 2008, started chemotherapy and chemo radiation treatment in September 2008. In Spring 2009, we found out a few tumors grew in her liver, then started up chemo again (pills and IV - side effects were mild). The doctors gave her 3-6 months. Fast forward to 2012.. almost four and a half years later. She's still fighting, still being brave, still enjoying life. Her liver began to shut down earlier this year. Just before Thanksgiving, her kidneys started to go. She was admitted into the hospital the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. My dad and I had a heart to heart with her on Wednesday night. Thanksgiving morning, the doctors called to tell us her health had declined significantly. Thursday morning, my dad, brothers and I went to the hospital, took the doctor's advice, and took her off all meds. We started her on a morphine drip - she had a couple days left at most. Multi organ failure.

About ten minutes after starting the morphine drip, she was able to speak and to raise her hands slightly. We had a family heart to heart for about 30-40 minutes. She encouraged all of us to go home so she could sleep and so we could be with my nieces and nephews...also, to have Thanksgiving dinner. 

Friday morning rolls around - I wake up unusually early (7:30). Within seconds of opening my eyes, I felt like reality had SLAPPED me in the face with its GENITALIA. My mom could die in a couple days. I burst into tears, walk downstairs to my dad to tell him that I realized this was still reality. But something made me ask if the doctors called. Yes. He had this LOOK on his face. "Did she pass?"

She passed around 1 am on Friday morning. The doctor had called at night to inform my dad.  She waited until Thanksgiving was over! Even in death, she was selfless. 

Obviously, there's a lot more to the story than this. More feelings and emotions involved. A lot of reconciliation and renewal. It's been an emotional roller coaster. And now... I don't know how to feel anymore...now that she's gone. To say "my mom is dead" ... is so.. strange.

ANYWAY. The 5 yr survival rate for PanCan is 6%. Only about 15% (i think) of those diagnosed even qualify for surgery. My mom made it just about 4 1/2 years. MIRACLES DO HAPPEN.

Here is the eugoogooly I wrote and read at my mom's funeral on Sat Dec 1st. 

First things first: thank you to all of you for coming to celebrate my mother's life and to mourn her passing. My family and I are truly encouraged by the overwhelming amount of love shown to us during the past four years - especially now.

Whether you know her as Jade, Mrs. Yong, Auntie Jade, Ah-mah, Mama Yong, mom, or Tai, you know that her life and outlook on life were truly incredible. I mean - look at what she had when she left earth... one wonderful and loving husband (who now knows how to cook up a storm!), three AMAZING kids, two wonderful daughters in law (who are like sisters to me), and seven beautiful  grandchildren. 

My mother was usually an observer - often quiet. But she was also an incredibly passionate woman - mostly about God and her family. Sometimes about baking, cooking, cross stitching, knitting, and many other hobbies she picked up and put down over the years. She had this ability to just spread and share her excitement and joy. As some of you may know, when she felt strongly about something, she'd often be moved to express herself to you whether you liked it or not. Fortunately, or unfortunately, for some of you, I think this trait has rubbed off on me. 

She was caring, kind, and compassionate. Also quite silly and incredibly loving. In the more recent years, while battling cancer, it was her courage, resilience, and wisdom that made the most lasting imprint on my mind. But above all else, it's safe to say that during her lifetime, and now, without her here on earth, she is an inspiration... and an encouragement. 

It's difficult to sum up in words, and to share with you how she embodied all these qualities. I'll do my best by sharing two random memories of her.

One day while I was in elementary school, she picks me up from school and tells me she has a surprise for me. We get home, walk upstairs to my room - and lo and behold! While I was at school, she constructed a giant pit of ALL my stuffed animals using my bedroom furniture! I was absolutely ecstatic! She knew I'd be so happy to have a stuffed animal pit. A random, happy memory. What a great way to express her love. 

Something else that comes to mind took place a few Christmases ago, with just her, my dad, and me at home. She hands me a jewelry box. Just the perfect size for a beautiful ring. What girl doesn't love jewelry and bling? I open it up. There's something inside meticulously wrapped with tissue. My heart skips a beat.

As I'm unwrapping it, I get nervous. It doesn't feel like a ring. And it's not just one thing... It's.... TEETH?! In my hand, there were at least 15 teeth.

Probably mine and my brothers' baby teeth. At first, I was slightly horrified, then started laughing. 

She and my dad just start LAUGHING mischievously. My mom, with her WIDE eyes and BIG grin, as many of you have experienced. My dad, with his jovial smile and laugh. Some of you wonder where I got my weird and mischievous playfulness from? There you go. And I love it! 

I will never forget my mom and her beautiful spirit. I will always remember her. 

To live life, to celebrate life's accomplishments, to endure and overcome life's hardships, heartbreaks, and losses, is a difficult task in itself. But to face death? To know that your time here on this earth is going to be cut short? That you will soon depart, leaving behind loved ones... How do you prepare yourself?

One is forced to contemplate these questions.  She was dealt a hand by God; she had a choice to eventually be filled with self-pity, to be fearful, and anxious... or to face death and fear head on.. to find peace and joy, despite the storm ahead.

What amazes me the most, is the attitude she had. Such a brave woman. She responded to this frightening and terrible prognosis, hopped on the roller coaster that lasted over four years, threw her hands in the air and said "BRING IT!".

That is what inspires me - she could've been forced on that roller coaster, and cried the entire way through, but she didn't. She embraced it.

That is what I hope you all will take from her life. Be inspired - no matter what situation you are in, it is possible to find peace… to find joy amidst the storm. I wish to not only inspire others as she did, but to face fear as Mama Yong did.

And currently, my biggest fear is this mourning process - this healing process that myself, my father, and my brothers and sisters in law have to face. 

Some of her last words that will forever be engrained in my memory are: 

"God's grace taught me how to live. God's grace taught me how to die."

My mother told this to us during our last conversation with her on Thanksgiving morning. She also told this to me in the past year or so - but back then, she said that God has helped her to learn to live, and that she thought He would surely help her learn to die. In the end, it fills me with joy to know He really did help her in preparing to leave this life and also in death.

Whatever you believe in, know that miracles really can happen. Big and small. Even if it wasn't to rid her of pancreatic cancer, it was to allow her to be a statistical anomaly at almost every turn in this roller coaster. To allow her to see the birth of two more grandchildren, to see her sisters from Australia and Malaysia twice more, and to know that the whole Yong clan, would be ok after she left to go party with God.

Mom, we'll miss you dearly - more than words can describe. Thank you for everything you've given to us. Thank you for your unconditional love that only a mother could give. I love you.

Everyone - I thank you again. I wish you courage, wisdom, the ability to face life (and death). I wish you love, peace, and the belief in miracles and silver linings.

Thank you.

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