“Death cannot separate us”: A son’s eulogy for his mum who died from the coronavirus
Just before Chinese New Year, 80-year-old Zhang Ru Zhen, affectionately known as Mama Xue, travelled from Wuhan to Chengdu to be with her son. She developed a fever on January 20 and was hospitalised. She later passed away on January 29 and became Sichuan province’s first fatality from the virus. The following is a eulogy shared by her youngest son, Xue Xi Ming, during the memorial service. Their story was first shared on their church’s WeChat account.
Between heaven and earth, the Lord reigns forever.
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. (Isaiah 54:10)
My mother has been blessed. In a land plagued by the epidemic and where human hearts are fearful, when my pastor called to speak to my mother who was in the isolation ward and asked if she wanted to believe in God, she answered calmly: “I’m willing.”
While her reply was weak, God still heard her. His gentle hand stretched out towards my mother’s ailing body and brought her Home.
Before my mother passed, we had placed an audio Bible beside her. It was our prayer that through this, God’s Word would be like water to her heart that has been dried up.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
I believe this. This is not a sad parting, but instead an assurance that we will reunite again.
A MOTHER’S LOVE
My mother laboured all her life and now she can finally rest. When I look back on her ordinary and simple life, she had always given her all – unreservedly and unconditionally to protect our family.
In the summer, she would laboriously fan away the mosquitos. In the winter, she continued to hand-wash our clothes in the cold until her hands were cracked and wounded.
She was stingy with herself. She scrimped and saved, and she never bought for herself a single expensive piece of clothing. But with her family, she never held back. She was hardworking and extremely considerate towards us.
The decade my father was sick, my mother single-handedly took care of all his affairs.
When I was clueless about my future, she encouraged me to further my studies and took on the laborious role of caring for my young daughter. Even when she became aged and frail, she continued to do the same for our family and rarely asked for help.
I’m ridden with guilt as I think about how I never had the chance to help my mother with the chores. After I moved to Sichuan, the long distance between the two cities also meant I often forgot to call her to check in on her.
My mother has left us temporarily.
We look forward to the day in heaven, when our family will reunite.
To my mother: I miss you. I miss reading to you, taking walks with you and drinking the lotus root soup that you’d prepared.
Even though your earthly body is no longer in this world, elder brother, elder sister and I will continue to have hope. We look forward to the day in heaven, when our family will reunite and sit at the right hand side of our Heavenly Father.
We’re thankful towards our church family in this most difficult time of our lives.
God heard your continued prayers day after day and had compassion on my mother, leading her to the faith. During the time when I was quarantined and my mother was being treated, you all gave me great support.
I’m also thankful to friends who have shown their care and concern.
Thank God! Because of Jesus’ love, death cannot separate us. In Christ, only in Christ, He has won everything for us. Amen!
THINK + TALK
- If death were to suddenly confront you, what regrets would you have?
- Are you looking forward to life after death? Why or why not?
- As believers, what hope can we have even in death?