During the service, my eyes kept watching Kelissa. I wondered what her 3-year-old mind was thinking. Did she know why all these people were gathered? Was she happy to see the pictures of her mom on the screen? Did she understand why everyone was crying?
The service lasted about 2 hours, and it was hard for her stay in her seat that long, understandably. She left with April a few times to get some energy out. 6-month-old Karinna would cry intermittently throughout the service, and she was cradled back to sleep by relatives. Every time baby Karinna cried, I cried too. Karinna is a miracle baby, born prematurely in order that both she and Gloria could live. Gloria was diagnosed during her pregnancy with progressive fibrosis, a lung disease that required a lung transplant. Gloria continued to get worse, but Karinna began to get better. Gloria would visit the NICU daily to see her daughter, talk to her, pray for her, touch her little hand. You can tell Karinna's lungs are healthy; her cries were unmistakeable and piercing, and it hurt my heart that she would never know in person the woman who gave herself completely to love her back to health.
The service concluded with a home video of Kelissa singing to her parents, "This is the day, this is the day, this is the day that the Lord has made. . . I will rejoice and be glad in it!" After she finishes, she confidently takes a bow and says, "Thank you, thank you." Kelissa is a performer and loves to make people laugh, just like her mommy.
My eyes were fixed on Gloria's mom at the end of the service when people were lining up to pay their respect to the family. I couldn't hold back the tears to witness so many of her friends coming through the line, torn up about their friend losing a daughter, giving desperate hugs that held so much love and sympathy. Her face was a stream of unending tears. She lost her baby, her only daughter, and a wonderful friend. I remember that Gloria's relationship with her mom was very close. In college, Gloria told me that her mom was diagnosed with lupus. She had seen her mom looking at herself in the mirror, touching her face with concern over the changes created by the lupus, and it made Gloria so sad for her mom that she would cry talking about it with me. That was Gloria's heart; she felt others' pain like it was her own.
When it was my turn to come up to greet the family, I gave Chad a big hug; I don't remember what I said, if anything. I shook Mr. Hsu's hand; he was being so strong for his family and had a sweet smile on his face for everyone who came by. I wasn't sure if Gloria's mom would remember me since I hadn't seen her for 15 years, but she did and said in a surprised tone, "Tammy!" I hugged her really tightly and told her I loved Gloria so much. Through tears, I gave hugs to Steve and his pregnant wife, and Simon and his pregnant wife too. Though it grieves me to know these babies won't meet their Aunt Gloria, I am grateful that the Hsu family will have a season of joy as they welcome these new little ones into their lives soon.