“Your mom can’t breathe well.” I was in the U.S. when I heard my mom was COVID-positive in Tanzania. It was surprising. During the time, Tanzania magically claimed that no COVID-19 cases were found and yet my mom, who stayed at home most of the time, caught the disease.

Initially, she had a fever, started coughing, and sometimes felt nauseous. After treating the symptoms as malaria for three days, her fever was still high, and the sweat could never dry up. My dad was alerted and he advised my mom to get a COVID-19 test. My mom laughed, “it won’t be.”

The medical resources for COVID-19 were very limited in Tanzania. In fact, we suspected that my dad was the original virus carrier, but he was not allowed to be tested as he showed no symptoms. My mom was hospitalized. Three days later, even before the test result could come out, she felt something was clogging her lungs. Her fever reached 40 degrees celsius and she couldn’t pronounce any words clearly. Her blood oxygen level had declined drastically and she couldn’t breathe without a respirator. It was then that my dad called me and said: “Pray.”

It felt surreal.

Over here in the U.S. COVID-19 was merely the number of cases on the internet. I never knew it could be this close to me. I could not believe it, or rather accept the fact that my mom could pass away because of the coronavirus pandemic. After I processed the news for a day, realizing I couldn’t do anything, even to accompany her, I was able to call my dad back, and asked: “How is it now?” Fortunately, my mom survived. It was after day seven that she was able to find herself back.

Thinking back about her experience, my mom said the only and most remarkable thing she thought about besides death, was how much she missed her family and friends back in China and how she missed me in the U.S. We are a Chinese family, but due to work and school, our family was scattered everywhere. She was quarantined in the hospital. She was all alone. She thought she could bear through the loneliness this time as the time when she landed in Tanzania for the first time all by herself twelve years ago.

She realized, “I miss home.”

I thought, “Me too.”

We are both in China now.