My Coronavirus Story
It has been almost a year since it’s all happened, the feeling is still raw, but I feel I need to my story to the world.
It was 13th Jan 2020, I was at work, as normal, an urgent message came from one of my cousins in China, his message says ‘call you mum NOW!’
So I did, and what I heard was shocking on the phone. There’s chaos in the background, mum was in the hospital, she only managed to mutter the word out of her mouth, ‘he’s gone, your dad is gone…’
I lost all senses, felt like struck by the thundering, I couldn’t move and felt it’s difficult to breathe.
Still can’t remember who and when I was told the whole story, how dad falling off his push-bike, he had no phone on him, and an ambulance took him to the hospital too late, then they couldn’t resuscitate him from the heart attack.
Everything went a little blurry, and the bit by bit information I was feed through, I just felt more devastated.
I just remember what I heard from mum ‘when can you get back?’ on the phone, my mind was telling me, ‘I have to go back to China, see dad’s body for the last time, and be there for mum!’.
The Flight Back To Dad
I came to study in England in 2002, in my late 20th.
I fell in love with my Scottish husband now and married after my graduation. Now we live in England with 2 kids. Life was up and down and I have always maintained a strong link with parents, as the single child. I progress through my career accounting and finance, served a number of businesses. Always aim to impress my parents, even when I am a parent myself.
My family go to China every year to get together with my mum and dad. They enjoyed all the time we have spent with them.
The devastating news of dad passing away really got me into a state. Dad is no longer there, and he will not be able to see my kids growing up…
He won’t be there when I next go to China again… I can only wish he can still see us from his heaven…
With the help of my husband, the flight was booked on the same day with the luck of KLM, ‘I’m on my way to you, dad’, I said this to myself.
Our family holiday flight to China was always cheerful and full of hope, even though it’s 2 legs of flight, a shorter flight to a European city first, then the long-haul flight to Beijing.
This time, on my own, it felt like the journey of hell!
After an hour flight from Manchester to Paris, sitting at the airport waiting to board on the next 10-hour flight Beijing, I feel numb, the glamorous Paris airport lost every attraction to me, all I could do is stare out to the airfield, thinking of dad…
Boarding on the long-flight KLM, I started to feel I miss my kids terribly. I didn’t get a chance to tell either of them, before taking off. Also deeply worried about mum, coping the sudden tragic…the 10 hours seem lasted for a lifetime.
Masks in China
Arrival in Beijing, I noticed quite a number of people wearing medical masks. I am aware of the fact, that Chinese people are very cautious about any rumour around viruses (due to previous outbreaks of SARS). But I didn’t understand the reason why.
By the time I get to Beijing train station, there are a significant number of people wearing masks on sight. Working officials in the train station are also wearing masks.
Act as a caution, I went to a convenient store to buy a mask myself, there might be a virus going around here that I didn’t know about.
It is also a way to show others that I am willing to comply with the majority, which agrees with the big collectivism culture in China as well.
Another 5 hours train journey ahead of me, as Shenyang is my final destination, there isn’t always a direct flight to Shenyang from a European country. So this is the best option I could get.
Totally 30-hour of travel, I arrived Shenyang and saw mum.
There are no words, I could just hold mum for that moment and feel the world revolving around us. Dad has left us now.
‘I am here now dad, and I can see you off’, I said this to myself, when bowing over his memorial altar at home.
The funeral is on the next day.
Another shocking news to me is, by Chinese tradition, a wife or a husband is NOT to attend her/his spouse’s funeral, as the attempt to stop the dead to take the living with them. Even though this is a century-old superstition, people still follow this strictly.
I saw them tie a red string around one of mum’s legs onto a chair, before the whole family and friends going out of the door to head to the crematorium. Mum cried and streamed seeing people taking dad’s altar with them.
My heart broke into pieces…
What happened next at the funeral, just went from blur to imagination, then back to reality. I am not sure what order…
Little I knew there was another disaster just around the corner, and it would affect millions of people in the world
Government Announced Quarantine Order
2 days after my dad’s funeral, the President of China Xi Jinping publicly announced the seriousness of the spreading virus. Wuhan is officially sealed off. No one is allowed in and no one is allowed out. As it was identified as the source of the infection, and the death toll was rising significantly.
People are sending news to each other to warn the danger of being infected. More and more people start to wear masks, limit places where they go, without the official telling them to do so.
Fear, anxiety and frustration are taking over people’s life.
Mum was extremely concerned about my stay in China. She thinks the quicker I return to England the better before airlines started to place restrictions on people’s travelling.
Feel so reluctant to leave mum along so soon, I didn’t know what to do, knowing the dates of my departure is near.
The good news is all my dad side of the families have taken care of the funeral arrangement. So mum didn’t have to do deal with that. She has more worry about Covid-19.
I have assured her that returning to England will be much better, I would be far away from the virus. Without knowing, the worst nightmare of a pandemic is yet to happen to Europe and the whole world.
News Updates in China about Covid-19
China is well known for government coverup on major political issues in the past. Mainly due to officials fear of losing their position. But this time, it seems President Xu has made it clear that news will reflect the true occurrence of the virus spreading situation, and the public is well informed of the right course of action to prevent themselves from being infected, as well as calling all public to act together to stop the possibility of a pandemic outbreak.
Covid-19 wasn’t named as such in January when I was in China. But it’s all over the news daily. Mum’s relatives are talking to her daily to give her updates on the lastest they have found out.
It is believed the words from your closest friends and family are the real truth. People take the government announcement as only the half truth. The rumour about the doctor Li Wenliang, who first discovered the virus, his story made people distrust the government even more.
Li disclosed his discovery about the virus to his close friends and family in January, and he suspected the disease to be SARS at the time. But the principles of the hospital where he works, who are governed by the Chinese Communist Party, stepped in and issued a statement to the public that Li was spreading a rumour about an unconfirmed disease, as a result, they issued Li a disciplinary order.
It was only in February he was allowed to return to work, after the Chinese government confirmed the virus to be named a new virus from SARS, and Li was cleared his name. Sadly he died of covid-19 infection very shortly after returning to work, just like hundreds and thousands of people in Wuhan. People are still wondering about the truth behind his death, even to this day…
Airport Control and EU Approach
Under great anxiety, mum saw me off at the train station in Shenyang, and I headed off Beijing airport, trying to find my way to the ‘safety’.
Beijing airport had a great number of increased officials. More people were wearing masks than a week ago when I first arrived in the country. People are acting automatically to self-protect themselves, learning from the past SARS experience.
Arriving in Paris, the mask-wearing sight was much less than in Beijing. Notices about a new type of virus were everywhere, airport officials were telling people about the news. But no change on passengers checking procedure. I was relaxed a little by then without knowing the worst is yet to come to Europe and UK.
Getting home from the airport was relatively easy. I was only contacted by my kid’s school 3 weeks after I came back to England. No more actions were taken after they found out I came back from China at the end of January. Positive confirmed Covid-19 cases were only in the hundreds then.
The After Thinking
It’s been almost 11 months now, now we are living with Covid-19 every day. People’s life is affected by this deadly virus so much. We can hardly imagine how to go back to normal life again, without thinking about the possibility of someone close to you get infected.
Guess life will not go back to the way it was before Covid-19 time. Some might think there will be a big change after the vaccine is introduced to everyone. Some still think there will be the 3rd round of the national lockdown, regardless of what measure is in place.
People who abide by the government’s rule on lockdown, suffer great emotional anxiety. People who ignore the government law also carry great confusion and uncertainty in their belief as what is morally right or wrong, when they made the choice to go against the ‘right’ because they want to continue their caring duties to their loved ones.
I had a relief that I fulfilled my last duty to see dad off, and the black hole in my heart will never go away about his sudden death. But I consider myself to be the lucky one, that my beloved dad didn’t go through the deadly infection of Convid-19. I pray for him every day, may he rest in peace, and he can look down to us the 9th cloud Chinese heaven.
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