Today, I was able to meet with a group of ladies at church and share the miracles I have seen in my short life as a literal extension of my parents, refugees, survivors of the Pol Pot Regime in Cambodia. One member ran after me to ask if I’d share more stories one day. Flabbergasted and excited, I said sure! I’d have to ask them more of their painful but redemptive past. Then…tonight. My mom calls to share a story. She begins telling me it brought tears in my dad’s eyes this story of about fifty years ago.
Here it goes…
I rustled through the kitchen hustling to get the sink cleared and a load of dishes run for the night, when I took a peek at my phone and saw that I missed a call from my mom. A couple of rings later and she picked up.
“Sudea, you want to hear a story?!” my mom inquired. Onward she continued, “But I don’t know if I have told me this one before.”
“Yeah, mama. Tell me! Even if I have heard it, it’s amazing.” I responded ready to consume the morsel.
“It was when the country had fallen to the Khmer Rouge. I had a terrible stomache ache; it was a pain in my bones, throughout my whole body. It was the worst pain that I have ever felt. I had to go to the hospital.” Mom explained. *Keep in mind the hospitals were far from what you’d get in the modern United States with it being staffed with competent medical professionals… AND this was during a time the Red Army had wiped out many educated folk. My mom tells me there were so many people…the hospital was overrun with the injured, sick, and dying… very likely, too, from people who were forced to labor all day and in the heat and wearing black from head to toe. Cruel and evil.
Back to it: She had left the kids to my dad and took my oldest sister who was 7 or 8 years old at the time. My mom was in so much pain she began to lose consciousness. She prayed what felt like a desperate and last prayer as medical help didn’t seem possible.
“Father, God, your child is sick and in desperate need. Only you can help me.”
And my sister… The 7 year old caring for her mom as best as she could… then not knowing what else to do, the seven year old walked home…finding her way home in the night. Her mom had not moved and didn’t reply… In my sisters’ eyes, she was dead. When she got home she cried telling Dad “Mom is dead.”
I was a day or two later that my mom woke up… she recalls a vision of the cross of Christ and Jesus’ blood dripping and it began to cover her. The warm blood dripping from the cross covering her weak body, then she awoke her from her extended sleep, or coma. Many eyes turned toward her twitching body. The other patients proclaim, they were startled seeing she was good as dead…to twitching and then awake.
“They tell me that I awoke a few hours before they would take my body to be buried,” she tells me. The medical workers (some whom had or did not have official training as this was during Pol Pot’s regime) mentioned she had been unconscious for long and they weren’t sure she was going to make it.
Though she was weak, she nursed back to life… nothing like a good bowl of rice.
“Someone asked if I would like cow’s milk.” Mom shares. “If you have milk, I’d be thankful for some. Yes, please.”
“Sudea, the rice portion were a generous portion. Your sister ate some, I ate some, and then she wrapped it up to take home to share with Dad and your siblings.” Mom explained.
See: during the regime they would give you a cup of water and some rice grains…compared to that, this was a lot of rice, they were able to eat some and package some up in their multifunctional “krama,” or thin scarf.
“About three days later,” my mom trying to remember those fifty years ago, “Dad had come to the hospital” Sarit was about Mordecai’s age, she was saying “Ma, roh! Ma roh” (translated “Mom, you’re alive… Mom, you’re alive.”)
Side story, Sarit was my older sister, whom I never got to meet, who would die a couple of years later due to chicken pox. Tragic as Chicken Pox could be treated, my parents learned much after her death.
“I remember Dad asked if I wanted an orange–he would go to pick some if they would let him. Dad picked two oranges and began peeling it.” tells Mom.
My mom tells me that she was afraid to eat oranges because of the pain she experienced. She was awake, alert but weak. She could barely move. My dad peeled the orange and fed her a slice and a half. She didn’t dare eat more.
My mother tells me over the phone that in recalling this story tonight, which she had forgotten, my dad shed tears as his heart remembered the pain of rehashing the memories of those days…
Mom summarized, “I look back to that story, and I have never experienced anything like it… I was truly healed…I remember when I saw, like a vision, the blood of Jesus pouring down on me, I remember the pain going away and I was then awake…”
I can’t even imagine!
The evil Khmer Rouge.
My parents are my heroes, guys. To live through a genocide and come out seeing, tasting the goodness of God. I can’t even…
Telling this story to my children tonight, I did so in joy and great reverence and with tears flowing down my face again, I sign off…
With a grateful yet humble heart that I share this story. I ask that I ask when you consider the pains you suffer… to consider that God, Creator and Father, is with you no matter your circumstance or pain.