Dr. Milton Wan
This February (in 2008), Aurora got acute pneumonia and was admitted to the hospital. After twelve days, she passed away. She finished her life of 26 years. We did not anticipate her sudden departure. The grief that Renee and I experienced was much deeper and lasted longer than we thought. It was difficult for me to take it when people tried to comfort us saying (although I knew that they did not mean harm), “Now that Aurora is gone, perhaps it is a good thing, at least your burden will be lightened.” Is it true? It may be true in terms of the daily routines in the days to come. However, emotionally Aurora has left us with a deep black hole. It is so deep that our emotion has fallen to a point so low that even surprises us.
Two months have gone by, however, whenever we hear her name or see her pictures, we start crying again. Finally Renee has figured out the reason for this emptiness in our hearts. Aurora was a 26 years old “big baby”. Intellectually, she had never grown to be an adult. She did not have the ability to survive or to live independently. She was totally dependent on us emotionally and this also prevented us from helping her to be independent. She was different from a normal child, who started to become an independent individual at the age of three or four. When they grow older (especially during adolescence), they gradually keep their emotional dependence away from their parents, who have no choice but to let go. As for Aurora, we did not go through this process. The dependency of a normal three year old has lasted for 26 years for us. Now if a three-year-old child passes away, it certainly means a lot of pain for the parents based on the loss of their close relationship developed within three years. But for us, we are talking about 26 years! The emotional interdependency and 26 years of bonding is now being cut off. Our hearts are broken! The face and the voice of this 26-year-old baby have been imprinted deep down in our lives. Up till now it seems that Aurora has not left us, she is still dear to our hearts.
On the second day after Aurora passed away, I looked out the window and saw the sun shinning on the snow left from the storm the night before, I wrote a letter to my dear daughter. Here is what I wrote:
See You Again, Aurora!
My beloved Aurora,
At age 26, you should have been full of youthful vitality, balancing romantic love and an exciting career. But in the midst of this festive season, the Lord called you back to our home in Heaven.
I remember the day when you, at two and a half years old, suddenly had a seizure and scared the living daylights out of me. All I could do was to hold your tiny body close to me. Then, yesterday, I sat by your bed and watched helplessly as you struggled to draw each breath. For the past 24 years, I have repeatedly asked this question: if some people were born to suffer all their life, what is the meaning of their living?
Then I thought of the life of Jesus Christ. Was He not born to suffer? Didn’t He die in the most painful way imaginable? I decided to remain silent.
Once, at a meeting with some seminary students, I was asked to name three theologians who had had the greatest impact on my life. I listed Hudson Taylor, the great missionary who founded China Inland Mission; and then, the Chinese theologian, Watchman Nee. But to everyone’s surprise, I concluded by saying, “The third person is my daughter, Aurora, who is severely mentally challenged.” Yes, my Aurora, in the eyes of this world, you were a handicapped person who couldn’t even pick up a pencil to draw a circle. Yet God deliberately chose you and brought you into my life to teach me valuable lessons that I could never have learned from all my doctorate studies.
In the ancient East, a wise man once told his students, “Today I’m going to introduce my teacher to you.” Everyone was anxious to find out who was the great teacher of this bright and knowledgeable man, but the wise man only took a small piece of stone from his pocket and said, “This is my teacher.” While all his students were puzzled, the wise man continued, “One day, when I was in a hurry on my way to deliver a lecture, I suddenly felt a sharp pain under my foot and found a pebble in my sandals. I stopped and got down on my knees in order to take it out. As I stopped and looked around, I suddenly discovered how beautiful the scenery around me was. A little white flower next to me caused me to realize how brilliant life could be. Previously, I had rushed along on this path, but this tiny pebble caused me to pause on my way, and gave me the opportunity to take a good look at life. Now you can see why this tiny stone turned out to be my teacher!”
My dear Aurora, you’re the small pebble in my life. When I was searching for fame and status, the difficulties and challenges you brought to my life and your physical weakness compelled this ambitious father to stop and reflect on his life again and again. Only then could I learn to understand the hurts of people and appreciate human dignity. Thank you, my dear child! You brought me back from going astray in my pursuit of success and achievements. Your genuine smiles and your tears without pretense constantly encouraged me to live an authentic life. Whenever I think of your pure and simple life, I remind myself: do we really need sophisticated entertainment in order to live a life of joy and contentment? Thank you, my child, you’re my great teacher!
Aurora, I have always believed that you were an angel, a suffering angel, sent by God – though you suffered so much in this world, your beauty and purity never changed. Now that you have fulfilled your mission on earth and returned to the loving arms of our Heavenly Father. My girl, your daddy is very blessed – for he has had the honor to take in an angel!
I can’t stop missing you. My heart is broken. But when I think of your smiling face in heaven, I can smile too!