1 Thessalonians 4:17~Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
I still have a distinct memory of that night. I was on call on my pediatric rotation, when my father called to say that my mother was sick and had been admitted to the National Cancer Center in Tokyo. When I arrived in Japan, I joined my father and brother in the hospital. The doctor invited us into a small room where he told us that my mother had stage IV pancreatic cancer, and that there was no curative treatment. We were also informed that she, who had previously seemed to be in perfect health, had only one month to live.
Even after learning of her prognosis, my mother remained completely calm and told us that she had no worries, since God was always with her. She strongly urged us to take her home, and refused chemotherapy, so we complied with her wishes. Under the guidance of a visiting doctor and a nurse, I managed her everyday care, including checking her vitals, changing her IV line, and managing her pain.
Everyone knew that her health was declining at a rapid rate. My mother passed away one month to the day after we received the devastating news. On that particular morning, as I was listening to her heart, her heartbeats became intermittent and finally stopped. After her heart was silent, her body became cold in a short time. At that moment, I realized that she had indeed passed away.
In medical school, I had seen many cadavers during my anatomy class. At that point in my studies, death was always somewhat irrelevant and far away to me. I did not really understand how it felt to lose a family member. However, after my mother’s death, I was able to relate to the pain people feel after losing a loved one.
I take pride in the fact that I put all my heart and soul into her care, and did what I could for her. Even though I tended to her for only one month, I learned many things from her including real patient care and how faith strengthens our body and mind.
While it pains me to think of the loss of my mother, as a Christian I hope to meet all my family members in Heaven. When I meet her again, I want to share many stories especially those I have experienced in the hospital and how the lessons I learned from taking care if her help me each and every day to become a better doctor.-Mutsumi J. Kioka, LLUSM class of 2009, finished an internal medicine residency in Los Angeles, California, and is completing a pediatric critical care fellowship in Detroit, Michigan.