As you know, I returned from China with my 2 sons and left Mei Ling and Ling Shou to attend to her mother's illness. It has been 4 months since I have seen them and miss them both. I am sad to say that I must return to China under dire news. Mei Ling was infected with her mother's illness and has passed to the side of our Gods. I am filled with much grief and will miss the mother of my children with much sadness. The Gods have chosen to be merciful and my daughter is well and in my mother's care. She was born on American soil and I wish that she grow into an American teenager and young woman here with me. It is possible I will regret the teenage part but I would rather she be under my care when this occurs and not in my mother's very-old-Chinese ways. She is a child of 2 worlds and it will be her choice which world she will embrace when she is mature. I have every hope she will mature into a very proper Chinese-American person.
I am filled with much sadness at Mei Ling's departure to the next world. I set aside my grief knowing that I gave her a good home and children to love and was a husband who cared for her as much as I could. She was a good wife and mother and I shall miss her much. I must be mother and father now to my sons and to Ling Shou and I will put all my attention to their care.
It is a time like this when I would like to place my face under the covers and be a child again in my father's house where all is taken care of and my biggest worry is not anything that will shake my life to pieces. I am the father now and would not have my sons sad longer than the proper mourning time. They are alive and need to remember their mother and remember that she would be happy only if they are happy as well. I have been holding them close to me and telling them sweet times about their mother so their minds are filled with the joys of her life.
I have no greater friend than you! My sons saw you before I did. When we debarked from the airplane and crossed the jetway bridge to the concourse, I was so tired from the long flight from China that I thought my sons were seeing things. But Emma! It was you and your Amelia! I thought my heart would stop. It came back to me so fast that I was sure it could not possibly beat again.
You embraced me with a sweetness I had forgotten there was. Your arms were much cherished around me and I admit that I had much difficulty letting you go. And then you took Ling Shou into your arms and she clung to you as though she knew you in some other place and time. Emma! I say these words softly so as not to offend my Gods or yours but I think Amelia felt the same when I hugged her to my chest.
My sons are in love with you. Amelia and Ling Shou together make a very pretty picture and I fear they recognized each other's place in the world and were too pleased to be the center of all of our attention. The hug they gave each other was a sweetness and a picture I will keep in my heart.
Thank you for meeting our airplane. Thank you for the car that took us home. Thank you for the meal you prepared for us and thank you for the quiet peace of your company. I thank Jerome also for letting you come to us at this dark time.
Seeing you in my home was a bitter and sweet occasion. Knowing you were returning to New York was more bitter but you leave my children with much joyful memories. You give many sweet ones to me, too. The contest to see who could eat the most hamburgers and drink the most root of the beer was a joy for all of us. I think number 1 son beat us all by that mile.
Watching you as you looked at my shelves that hold your books was a feeling of somersault and upside down and gleeful dizziness. The picture on the back side of your books is a lovely one but you standing in my home was a better one. My mind took pictures that I shall recall when I pull out my paint and brushes and try to capture you standing there. You are so beautiful, sweet Emma. The beauty within you shines through and makes it more so.
I thanked my Gods for the joy of knowing you.
It has been 4 years since I have seen you - four long lost years without you in my life. I speak too broadly; the years have not been lost. My sons and my daughter are in school and doing as well as a proud father could ask. I try not to speak my pride in them too often for fear the Gods would taken offense. I do thank them every morn for their good health and smart brains and so-awful-and not-so-awful habits. Number 1 son is now smarter than his father - you can ask him and he will verify that. Perhaps when he is past the teen years I will regain my brain. Right now it can barely function it is so stuffed with what he thinks is music when I am certain it is merely noise.
Number 2 son speaks loudly to my neighbor's children that his father is much older than he realized. Apparently I did not know that music singers and television stars were gods in their own right and I made the old-age goof of wondering what all the fuss was about. I am clearly in my dotage now.
Ling Shou, however, is still her father's child, devoted to morning kisses and sweet embraces. I am filled with joy when I behold her. She favors me and she favors Mei Ling, a good thing I believe. Her terrible temper years passed swiftly as all she did that could be irksome paled in comparison to her brothers' mischief. I think the worst might have been the time she rubbed chocolate syrup all over her hair so that she would smell the same smell of the food she covets. Her brothers kissed her and kissed her until I discovered the source of that smell and came running! It took much hair soap and warm water to remove Hershey from her hair! It is my great relief she did not like the taste of garlic bulbs.
And now I speak of you.
Your move to Switzerland was not a surprise when you first told me of it. Jerome must be very good at what he does to be offered a high position in their hospital university. I was glad for his good fortune and for your happiness. Our infrequent correspondence was a blessing in disguise; I had need to stand on my own feet and not lean on our good friendship to see me through that difficult time of Mei Ling's passing. I know that friends can ease your way but grief and independence in this world are 2 elements that must be conducted on one's own. I thank you for all the notes of comfort and the ever ready shoulder to rest my head. I thank you for the phone calls that I ended all too quickly. I thank you for understanding that I needed you but needed to rely on me first.
I thank you and my children thank you for remembering all of us at every gifting holiday and all our days of birth. My children speak openly and with much love of their Aunt Emma.
And now I speak my thoughts knowing that my Gods will not be pleased but I mere man and allowed to make mistakes even when I am forewarned that I should not do this. In this I am the stubborn albeit hopeful boy I used to be.
I miss you, Emma. I long to see you again even if only a brief moment stolen from the universe. I need to see you. For many reasons, my heart has long resided in Pittsburgh. I would like to have it beat in my chest again.
Tell me where and when. I will make arrangements to be there.
Our correspondence crossed in the mail. Perhaps the airplanes carrying them across the ocean passed each other in mid flight. Such is the way when one thinks of another and thoughts are echoed back. I like to think it is that strong bond between 2 people who have fondness and affection for the other. Years ago I think I told you that you reminded me of a memory that I can not put a time on - a time when I was in another place and maybe in another body within a dynasty of an ancient age. My heart - when it speaks to me - tells me that you, a not-so-Chinese-woman were more-Chinese than you are today. I care not what you were or what you are in culture, race or time. You are Emma! That is all that matters. I am grateful though that you are woman.
Your newest book has me weeping tears of joy and too many are bitter ones. I have read the first 100 pages with many more to read but I know these people. Emma! You have written of me and of you and I am beyond words to tell you my feelings.
As I read your words I am filled with mystifying thoughts and scenes crafted with such ideas that I can not but wonder if they are make-believe or if they are real or were real in some place in the universe. Emma! You are wondrous in this world and I thank my Gods that you inhabit my world.
Would you tell me if you know - were we known to each other in previous times? I like to think that the event that brought us together was not that serendipitous thing but a planned scene in our destiny. We Chinese sometimes know things best left to the Gods but when a glimpse of what was or will be is there and we peek at it - oh Emma! Let it be! I do not wish to steal happiness from your Jerome but I do wish for much more for you and for me.
Your book and the thoughts you put into words fill me with much joy. I fear I will wear out the pages as I read them again and again.
Thank you, my dear friend. This is a wonderful gift.
I have always thought La Guardia Airport to be an ugly place. The floors are gray like dirt and the chairs uncomfortable. The eating places smell like beer or fried foods and the people that wait there for their airplanes or for the passengers seem to always be in a hurry while they wait. I watch them in awe and amazement while they stand or walk with their noses in newspapers, magazines or books. I am surprised their noses are not covered in newsprint. Some stand on one foot while they lean against walls. They are human phenomenon or perhaps a circus act in great disguise. Not one of them is capable of speech and all seem to have scowls on their faces as they look at the time pieces on their wrists.
But I care not what they think. I care only that when your airplane creeped slowly to the gate and you came out of that long bridge tunnel and I saw you - ah Emma! You are much-more-Chinese than you realize. And I, Chinese man, am humble in your presence.
You are beautiful.
The years have been good to you and you are still my Emma. The people faded when my eyes beheld you. The airport was no longer dirty and dingy but an oasis in the midst of desert sand. I had been thirsty - my throat was dry - and there you were. You smiled - you said "hold me" and I did and I knew peace. I love you Emma. There! I have said my innermost feelings.
Words are really not necessary between us but let me fill my eyes with you and I am sated with the joy you bring to my life. Thank you for that.
My heart is comfortable in my chest but knows the visit is temporary. When we part it will go to Pittsburgh once again but I will not be bereft for I have spent time with you. As always your sweetness is present and welcome in my life and your hugs are very dear. I fear we steal time like thieves seeking treasures for private collections. I confess I feel no remorse. I dwell on our time together and will pick apart each memory so that I may dine on every moment again and again.
If it is possible, I love you more than I knew I did. I took nothing from your Jerome and did not sully our friendship by asking for anything that was not mine to ask. Your embrace and mine in return were special. Thank you for our few days together. When I share time and space with you, I am filled with joy and I am filled with peace.
Post Script: I want more of you and will ask my Gods not to censure me though covet is a hurtful word.