Editor’s Note: Qingming, aka Chinese Memorial Day or Tomb-Sweeping Day, April 4th for 2020 AD, is traditionally the day of remembrance for ancestors and beloved ones passed away. This year, we would like to honor in particular those medical professionals, who lost their lives fighting against the Coronavirus for the rest of us. It is said that the best way to cope with grief and uncertainty is to express your feelings. This poem, in English below, is a rolling tribute to those who died to save others’ futures, a dirge we share for them and those who lost their lives in this Covid-19 pandemic.
Editor’s Note: Qingming, aka Chinese Memorial Day or Tomb-Sweeping Day, April 4th for 2020 AD, is traditionally the day of remembrance for ancestors and beloved ones passed away. This year, we would like to honor in particular those medical professionals, who lost their lives fighting against the Coronavirus for the rest of us. It is said that the best way to cope with grief and uncertainty is to express your feelings. This poem is a rolling tribute to those who died to save others’ futures, a dirge we share for them and those who lost their lives in this Covid-19 pandemic.
We Miss You Dearly at Qingming
A poem by Yan Chunfang
Translated into English by Long Jiang and Lin Yujing
Messengers of light – Li Wenliang, Mei Zhongming, Zhu Heping. Angels in white – Peng Yinhua, Liu Zhiming, Jiang Xueqing. Medical fighter assisting Hubei – Doctor Wang Shuo.
At this special Qingming, We miss you so dearly.
It was 2: 58 AM February 7 when you passed, Dr. Li Wenliang. Fifteen million people of Wuhan, or, rather 1.4 billion compatriots, all over the 9.6 million square kilometers of land shot beams of light into the sky, escorting you to the Gate of Heaven.
It was 10: 30 AM February 18 when you passed, Director Liu Zhiming, with no last words. What you said most often to your beloved were: “Don’t…”, “Don’t’…”, “Don’t expect me for dinner, I’m at the clinic with a few more cases to take care of…”, “Don’t wait up for me, I’m in the ward reviewing cases at hand with colleagues…”. When laid up, You refused to have your wife as your carer, as you preferred her to save more lives at the front.
It was 9: 50 PM February 20 when you passed, Doctor Peng Yinhua, at such a young age. Too late for a wedding though you were married, too late to send the invitations that still lay in the drawers. The wedding picture with your wife became the last memory.
It was 5: 32 AM March 1 when you passed, sweet Doctor Jiang Xueqing at the mere age of 55. No more tall silhouette in the sunshine, no more busy footsteps in the sickrooms, no more 60-decibel voice. Never to see, never to hear. You are gone, gone forever, turned to ashes with the virus.
It was midday March 3 when you passed Doctor Mei Zhongming. That benevolent heart stopped unwillingly at the age of 57, before a well-deserved retirement. The patients still need you to treat their eyes, your parents and family still wait for you to have small talk and a reunion
It was 9 AM March 9 when you passed, Doctor Zhu Heping. You could have enjoyed old age in comfort, you were already retired, but you were gone – a willing ox has fallen in the fields of brightness where it has ploughed.
It was 11 PM March 13 when you passed, Doctor Wang Shuo, 36-year-old who came from Guangxi to assist Hubei. Ghostlike streetlights, gleaming in that dark night, a deadly van roared down the street and ran over you who were checking on quarantine in the community.
Doctor Li Wenliang, you said that you had never dreamed of becoming a hero. But, you could never be a deserter, you fought like a soldier to the last minute when the virus took your young life. Your name goes down in history as Doctor Li who dared to speak the truth, who will forever be remembered by people – A heroic whistle blower in white.
Director Liu Zhiming, the coronavirus took away your life but could not destroy your immortal soul. You had given all of yourself to fulfill a doctor’s duty and sacred mission.
Doctor Peng Yinhua, you were a husband, a competent doctor but above all, a man with a capital “M”. The day when your funeral was held also witnessed your belated wedding.
Sweet Doctor Jiang Xueqing, I have heard so many patients talk about your noble character, as evinced by numerous touching stories. You treated the patients like your own family, your soothing 60-decibel voice Warmed their hearts. With your surgical knife, you had removed countless thyroid and breast cysts, restored youth and health to patients, saved so many lives young and old. You devoted yourself to your career, sparing little time for your family. How you wished to hug your 2-year-old grandson again. These words should be carved on your gravestone: Winner of Chinese Medical Doctor Award, A sweet doctor Whose 60-decibel voice is most pleasing.
Doctor Mei Zhongming, you brought light to so many people’s lives but your own eyes are closed forever. You were a messenger of Light but now, you have to walk in a dark world.
Doctor Zhu Heping, you were a guardian of others’ eyes but all your beautiful dreams were shattered. Alas for the hundred-year-old Central Hospital, I heard the wailing of all your colleagues on your departure from life.
Doctor Wang Shuo, you traveled hundreds of miles to the rescue of Hubei. Having said goodbye to your beloved you passed the torch of love to warm the people in need. You were not taken down by COVID-19 but killed in a car accident. What a tragedy! What a loss! You sacrificed your precious life for the people of Hubei.
Li Wenliang passed, I was saddened. Liu Zhiming passed, I was grieved. Peng Yinhua passed, I cried. Jiang Xueqing passed, I was distressed. Mei Zhongming passed, I wept. Zhu Heping passed, I lay sleepless. Wang Shuo passed, I was heartbroken.
More than three thousand people from all walks of life were deprived of their lives by the tiny virus.
The yellow crane flies away, never to return. The mighty river flows eastward like the passage of time. Heavens weep, the Chu Phoenix whines. The cherry blossoms are drifting down, they are the joss paper we scatter. A drizzle is falling, it is our mournful tears.
Doctors fell one after another in peacetime, in a smokeless battlefield. In this sorrowful spring you would not see the dawning of a new day. But with your own lives, you have composed indelible chapters of our time.
Like monuments erected across the mighty river, you are legends imprinted on people’s memory and passed down from generation to generation.
Rest in peace, Heroes, you are surely in heaven as Honorable doctors, Men with a capital “M”. March 27, 2020 Wuhan
Doctors’ Profiles Li Wenliang (Oct. 1985-Feb. 7, 2020), male, born in Jinzhou, Liaoning Province. Died from COVID-19 despite all treatment on February 7, 2020. He was an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital.
Liu Zhiming (1969-Feb. 18, 2020), male, born in Shiyan, Hubei. Died from COVID-19 despite all treatment on February 18, 2020. He was Director of Wuchang Hospital of Wuhan, Chief Physician and a neurosurgeon.
Peng Yinhua (Dec. 1990-Feb. 20, 2020), male, born in Yunmeng, Hubei. Died from COVID-19 despite all treatment on February 20, 2020. He was a doctor of PCCM working for No. 1 People’s Hospital of Wuhan Jiangxia District and Xiehe Jiangnan Hospital.
Jiang Xueqing (Mar. 31, 1964-Mar. 1, 2020), male, born in Wuhan, Hubei Province. Died from COVID-19 despite all treatment on March 1, 2020. He was Director of Department of Thyroid and Breast Surgery and Chief Physician of Wuhan Central Hospital, winner of Eleventh China Doctor Award in 2018.
Mei Zhongming (Nov. 29, 1962-Mar. 3, 2020), male, born in Wuhan, Hubei Province. Died from COVID-19 despite all treatment on March 3, 2020. He was Deputy Director of Department of Ophthalmology of Wuhan Central Hospital.
Zhu Heping, male, died from COVID-19 despite all treatment on March 9, 2020 at the age of 67. He was Associate Chief Physician of Ophthalmology at Wuhan Central Hospital and rehired after retirement.
Wang Shuo, male, a member of Guangdong Medical Team Assisting Hubei. Died at the age of 36 in a car accident while checking on coronavirus quarantine in a community of Jingzhou, Hubei. He was Physician in Charge at Division of Sanitation Evaluation of Guangdong Provincial Center for Occupational Diseases Prevention and Treatment.
Poet’s Profile Yan Chunfang, a writer and resident in Wuhan, has published poems, prose in Hubei Daily, Chutian Metropolis Daily, Chutian Literature and other publications. His works have also been reprinted by such online media as China Writer and Guang Ming Online. He is a columnist for Qilu Evening News Yidian and has published numerous poems and articles included in top searched list on Baidu and Toutiao.
Translators’ Profiles Long Jiang is Associate Professor of English of Wuhan University, MA program supervisor, research scholar of Freeman Fellows Program at University of Illinois. His research interests include British and American literature and culture. He has published textbooks, translations and bilingual readers with Wuhan University Press, Dalian University of Technology, Yilin Press etc.
Lin Yujin is Master of Art in language studies at City University of Hong Kong. She has published several translated books with Huashan Literature and Art Publishing House and some translated essays in the monthly magazine English Square.
Many years ago I had a neighbor from China who used to say the moon was rounder here than at home.
We discussed this at length.
And as much as I want to believe all things are equal I know better. I know there is trouble all over the globe. People and governments forget how to be neighborly.
I hope he made it back there after his studies were done. Everyone should have a home to return to. A safe home with love and peace and plenty of food.
A home where babies fall asleep in their mother’s arms and young lovers in the garden can steal a kiss from under the full moon at midnight no matter how round it might be.
The stars in the sky sparkle because of a fire that burns deep inside, like a motivation in a mother who is the light of so many lives, with one more on the way.
She is committed to many people and things, but the strongest of these, stronger than gravity, is always being the best she can be in any role or position.
This is so admirable, yet also exhausting. So it is good that this dedication comes with the wisdom to know that, unlike a star, we need to rest sometimes which is where those vacations come in useful.
To be our best, we have to be at our best, rested and ready like a tiger mom should.