If you would like to have background music while you are reading, please click on the arrow below.
Silently, he left
By himself, not taking anything
Not saying goodbye
So peacefully and without regrets
He knew he had all of our love
And he left his heart with us.
Just a couple of days before his passing
He tried to write it on my palm
But failed for he had no more strength
He tried to utter the words with his mouth
But no voice came out.
I thought he said, “ALFI.”
It did not make sense to me.
So I did not understand what he wanted to say
Until a year later.
What he wanted to say was
I LOVE YOU… I LOVE YOU…
He tried so hard to let me know
He could not express it with his hand
His mouth failed to utter the words.
Then he tried with his heart
Quietly, voicelessly with all his heart
To let me know that
He loves me
Till the end.
I was exhausted from a defeating effort to try to convince the hospital not to end my husband’s life. Yet, the moment I walked into Ming’s hospital room that night, I forced myself to put on a warm and loving face, so he did not suspect anything was wrong. His health was deteriorating, and he surely did not need to know the hospital’s evil plan.
I sat there quietly and tried to figure out what to do next. All I knew was that I wasn’t going to give up the fight for Ming’s life. Perhaps I could seek outside help of some sort. Maybe someone else would be able to persuade the hospital not to stop his blood transfusion. So far, my attempts were only causing me to suffer more heartbreak – but more importantly, the battle with the hospital was robbing me of precious moments with my husband.
Despite all of the internal noise buzzing around in my head, the hospital room was so quiet, one could hear a pin drop. Suddenly, I noticed that Ming was trying to tell me something. I leaned in closer to listen, but he didn’t have the strength to whisper a word. I gently placed his hand on my palm to see if he could trace the letters onto my hand, but he didn’t have the strength for this either.
My heart sank into my chest as I watch him struggle to try to say whatever it was that he wanted to tell me. His eyes began to fill up with tears as he grew nearer to accepting defeat. Soon, his tears were flowing like a river – and with each tear that fell from his eyes, I felt another piece of my heartbreak.
Again and again, he tried to open his mouth to say something but nothing came out. Out of desperation, I got really close and tried to read his lips. Watching his mouth change shapes, I soon believed I could make out his word: “ALFI.”
I gave a gentle nod, which he accepted as the understanding that I finally knew what he was trying to say. I saw his body relax a bit and he soon closed his eyes to rest. The tension from the whole interaction caused my chest to tighten as reality set in that “ALFI” may have been the final word I would ever hear from my husband.
Dr. Alfi was the professor that my husband collaborated with when he left Harvard for the Los Angeles Children’s Hospital to pursue chromosome studies. Eventually, Ming left Dr. Alfi and went to USC affiliated County hospital while Dr. Alfi opened his private amniocentesis lab.
Prior to Ming ending up sick in the hospital, he had found out that his department was in jeopardy of closing because they didn’t have enough patient specimens to move forward with the study. Last we had discussed, he was considering partnering with Dr. Alfi once again after he recovered from his sickness. And here Ming was, with a near zero percent chance of recovery, still worried about his job. I would have given anything to have been able to help him free himself of those worries right then.
My husband passed away a couple of days later. I did not think about “Alfi” until exactly one year and one day after his death. It was then that I flashed back to the memory of me trying to read Ming’s lips that day in the hospital. All of a sudden, I could read his lips clear as day. It wasn’t “Alfi” that he said, it was “I love you.” These three last words were his final good-bye and his last gift to me.
As I sit here, recalling this memory I shared with Ming, I am left wishing that I had been able to reciprocate this precious gift with an, “I love you, too.” The honest truth is that I love him wholeheartedly, even now.
Ming and I spent his final days fighting for his life: He fought physically, while I begged and pleaded with the hospital to not stop his blood transfusion. I remember it so clearly: It was a Thursday morning, and the chief of the intensive care unit came to see me. His look was emotionless and detached as he delivered the cruel news that the hospital would stop Ming’s blood transfusions the next day.
I was in complete shock and disbelief. He must not have understood the significance of this decision, that bringing an end to Ming’s blood transfusions meant bringing an end to Ming’s life. Therefore, I begged, pleaded and even tried to reason with the doctor – but he wouldn’t budge. He stated that Ming was going to die regardless, and he did not want to waste any more of the blood supply.
I knew, the instant that he refused the blood donations that came in from our church that I was dealing with a person who lacked feeling. I felt completely helpless. How could I change the mind of a person who could so cold-heartedly abandon a human life?
After realizing that I couldn’t change the director’s mind, my anger took over. I remember looking through the doctor’s eyes and into his dark soul and saying: “Doctors are not God to determine the life and death of a human. They are responsible for treating patients.” What came next out of my mouth even shocked me as I told him that if he went through with his plan, I would consider him a murder. He didn’t even blink or show an inkling of regret.
In the end, I was practically hunched down on the floor, begging for his mercy and begging for my husband’s life. When I realized the battle had already been lost, I begged him to at least give Ming and me three more days to spend together, without stopping the blood transfusion. He knew that our church offered a three-day fast, so he granted my request. I thanked God for providing me with these precious 72 hours so that I could try to win my case with a bigger giant than the department chief: the hospital itself.
During his last three days, I was not able to stay with Ming every second, so I entrusted one of our church sisters to be with him while I dealt with the hospital. What touched me the most was that he never expressed any disappointment with me for needing to leave his side at times. He trusted me totally with all his heart. I refrained from telling him all that was going on with the hospital. I decided it would be best if he didn’t know that the hospital was deliberately going to end his life. No one should have to experience such pain in their final days.
I submitted an official letter to the hospital in regards to the doctor’s decision to terminate my husband’s life. All I got back was a scratch piece of paper with a note sloppily written in pencil, confirming the termination of Ming’s blood transfusion to take place the following Monday, which was less than just three short days away.
To be continued…