Sunday, June 10, 2007


A little girl we knew died two months ago. She passed away from leukemia ten days after Adia was born. I saw Praew and her mom at the hospital the day I gave birth to Adia, but John wasn’t with me and I don’t speak Thai, so we just exchanged greetings. I didn’t realize how sick she was. She’d been sick since before we knew her, and we never heard that she was really getting worse. John just came home one day and said she had died. She was nine.

Her mom, Teacher Mam, was one of Trea’s nursery teachers when we moved her, and her sister lives across the street. The two of them have helped us with Trea so many times. Now, they take care of the infants and toddlers. I had to leave Adia for a few hours last week to go teach. Teacher Mam and I were alone in the room, and I was nursing Adia. I asked how she was; she responded, but I didn’t understand it. I caught her daughter’s name but that was the only word I understood. A few minutes later another teacher came, and Teacher Mam repeated what she had said.

“She says to tell you that she misses Praew.”

Teacher Mam tried to smile – that Thai smile they do to cover up grief, or pain – but it didn’t quite work. I tried to smile back, and couldn’t quite do it. I looked down at my nursing baby, so healthy and so sweet, and realized that sometimes, my not knowing what to say has nothing to do with not speaking the language.


Kimberly said...

Between being emotional/pregnant AND away from my son for a week (he's with Grammy while we're in Hungary and Croatia), this story made me cry. That is so sad!!!

Drew said...

This is really sad. Mentioning the smiling to cover up things... I've been reading a book called River Town by Peter Hessler. It's about a Peace Corps volunteer who lives in the Sichuan province of China. Reminds me a lot of your experiences living in Thailand. Check it out if you get a chance.

I'll be in China/Japan in August. Too bad I won't be able to make it your way...

Kim said...

Oh that poor Mama. I know that pain, it sucks.