In the beginning of February, DuoDuo’s family moved into Daisy’s Home.
Usually, when a child enters the hospital, Zhou Xuan (the head of the medical team) would make time in her schedule, no matter how busy she was, to drive down to Songtang Hospital to meet the child, prescribe relief treatment plans, and implement various other details for their medical care. But due to COVID-19, she ultimately decided to take precautions, and met with DuoDuo’s family for the first time through WeChat video calling.
Within her own home, Zhou Xuan’s family was in a state of distress. Although her elders were resting at home, their pain was barely managed well; they required medical treatment, but the pandemic had stripped hospitals of the conditions they needed to execute major operations on patients. At home, the elders’ quality of life was poor. Witnessing this pain in her own family, Zhou Xuan felt the same soul-crushing anxiety and heartbreak that parents in Daisy’s Home felt. She often said she wanted to work harder to be better for DuoDuo’s parents.
Back at home, DuoDuo’s grandmother had slept for only 2-3 hours a day, and her head buzzed every time she laid down. But on the first day she entered Daisy’s Home, she slept a total of eight hours, in two separate periods—much more “practical”, as she described it.
DuoDuo’s father has always been the most fond of her. With the worsening of her conditions, he feels immense anxiety. He drinks beer at dinner, just to fog up his mind, to not think so much, to possibly fall asleep and glimpse a few hours of empty relief.
DuoDuo is a very keen child. She finds ways to circumvent her inability to speak; she makes gestures with her fingers, to indicate how severe her headaches are.
Soon, DuoDuo’s mother discovers she is pregnant. After many days of discussion, she and DuoDuo’s father ultimately decide to keep the baby .
Everyday, DuoDuo’s grandmother tries to find different ways to make appetizing food for everyone. But DuoDuo’s mother rarely has any appetite, and her father also barely eats, only occasionally eating instant noodles.
Late February, DuoDuo’s condition increasingly worsens. Sun Yang gently reminds the family to start making arrangements for her funeral.
As DuoDuo’s father chooses photos of DuoDuo for the funeral, tears roll down his cheeks. In the photo, DuoDuo sits beneath sheets of lush, green leaves, swaddled in a dress of white, a fairy in the middle of a forest.
After another heavy snowfall, DuoDuo develops a fever. Everyone becomes nervous, fearing she may have developed COVID-19—but Zhou Xuan rules this as unlikely, since DuoDuo hasn’t been in contact with outsiders for more than a month. She advises DuoDuo to take medicine to treat the fever first. But because the hospital had no antipyretics for children, and none of its staff could go out and shop, Cao Ying (who lived at home) had to run two trips to pharmacies, in the midst of the snow, to deliver medicine to Daisy’s Home.
Throughout February, the downstairs ward in Daisy’s Home accommodated two more children, both with terminal tumors. Sun Yang welcomed and took care of them throughout their entire stay; sometimes he ate only a few dry pieces of bread a day, and often slept for indefinite amounts of hours at a time. He also tried his best to make sure the parents were okay. Under Zhou Xuan’s medical plan, the children passed away peacefully and painlessly.
Before leaving, one of the mothers gave Sun Yang a hug. She expressed how thankful she was for him, Zhou Xuan, and Cao Ying, for the care they’ve provided in the last month. In the future, she hopes to volunteer for the hospice care center.
By March, DuoDuo’s entire body has become paralyzed; she requires assistance for even the smallest movements, such as simply turning her head. Her grandmother begins preparing the clothes she would wear when she passed, and lets her father choose the final outfit out of her options, since he was the one who usually dressed DuoDuo. When DuoDuo’s father had nothing to do, he would stay by DuoDuo’s bedside, holding her hand, and crying silently.
During the first weekend of March, DuoDuo passed away quietly. According to her grandmother, she suffered very little pain.