Zhong Jing Yi held his mother’s hand, both of their faces pale. He had always known that this day would come but he had also felt that he still had a lot of time until then. But now, ten years had gone by seemingly in a flash and the thought that suddenly, there wasn’t any time left, made him look at her blankly. He did not know how to handle it.
Madam Zhong smiled faintly at her son’s expression and then patted his hand, sighing. “There’s a day like this for everyone. There was one for your father, there is one for me, and even for you, there will be such a day in the future even though it will hopefully be a long, long time until then.”
Her voice was slightly hoarse and there clearly wasn’t any strength in that frail hand, making Jing Yi lower his head. He really wished he could see it like that and just accept the fact that soon enough, he wouldn’t have his mother with him any longer. But the truth was, he just couldn’t.
It had been hard enough accepting his father’s early demise even though they hadn’t spent nearly as much time with each other as he had spent with his mother and even though he had still had his mother left at that time to get him through those difficult moments. Now, his father was gone, and he would still be there when his mother left as well. He didn’t know. He just didn’t know how he was supposed to go on after this.
Madam Zhong looked from her son to the person standing at the side of the room, looking very much just as down as Jing Yi. She held out her hand toward him, wriggling his fingers. “You come over here, Qiu Ling.”
Qiu Ling nodded and came over, taking her hand as well and sitting down on the other side of the bed. “Mother-in-law …” He glanced at Jing Yi, his heart hurting at seeing him so pained.
Madam Zhong gave him a long look, thinking back to the time when they had just arrived in the capital city. “Do you still remember what you promised me?”
Qiu Ling looked back at her, keeping quiet for a moment. The things he had promised her … Yes, naturally, he remembered all of them. Anyway, there had only ever been one thing she asked of him. “I’ll stay at Jing’er’s side. I will always be there for him regardless of what happens. Don’t worry about it. I’ll make sure that he doesn’t come to harm for as long as he lives.”
Madam Zhong nodded, satisfied with his answer. It seemed that she didn’t need to worry about her son’s future. Even though he couldn’t have his family with him any longer, he would not be alone. There would still be this person at his side.
She sighed deeply, looking up at the ceiling. She didn’t know just how much time she had left. It couldn’t be much. Previously, her condition had already been getting worse and in the last few months, it had deteriorated further and further. What could she do? She was getting old. Maybe it really was just her time.
Looking at her son again that didn’t look any older than twenty, she still couldn’t help but feel that she was abandoning a helpless child. Well, maybe that just was how it felt when you had to leave a loved one behind. “You should return to the sect. I’m sure there are many things to do. And aren’t Shao Hai and Xiao Dong also there? You’ll feel better with your friends around you. Don’t force yourself to stay here and do anything that isn’t your path.”
Jing Yi nodded but he still couldn’t say anything. His throat had constricted long ago and it took everything in him not to cry. He really didn’t want her to have that as her last memory of him. He wanted her to be able to go in peace. If there was nothing else he could do for her, then it should be at least this.
Even though Jing Yi might think so, his mother was still the person that knew him best. Just one look at him was enough to realize how he was actually feeling. She gave a faint smile and patted his hand again. “Child, don’t try to pretend in front of your own mother. I know that this is hard for you but I don’t regret anything.
“Looking back … I’ve had a long enough life and it was a fulfilling one. I’ve had a loving family growing up, I had a great husband accompany me through my best years, and I have raised a good son that is now all grown up. What I wanted to do in this life has already been achieved. I shouldn’t force myself to hang on any longer.
“No, now, it’s time for me to join your father. I’m sure he’s been missing me terribly wherever he is. In my next life, I’d want to be his wife again and I would want you to be our son again as well. We’ll wait for you over there.”
Qiu Ling looked away, keeping the fact that Mister Zhong would indeed not be waiting anywhere for her to himself. She deserved to pass without that knowledge.
Meanwhile, Jing Yi finally couldn’t hold back his tears. They just spilled over and he reached up, trying to wipe them off before his mother could notice. “I would also want to be your son again.” Unfortunately, he knew that that wouldn’t happen regardless of how much he wished for it. After his death, he wouldn’t go wherever his parents were. He would wake up as who he had originally been. That … made it even worse.
Madam Zhong looked at him and then pulled Qiu Ling’s hand over, putting Jing Yi’s into it. “The two of you have to stay together. Be there for each other. There’s nothing you can’t do if you have each other. With somebody at your side that you trust and love, no hindrance is insurmountable. That is something that life has taught me.”
Jing Yi grabbed onto Qiu Ling as if he was his lifeline. “I’ll remember it. I’ll remember everything you’ve taught me. I’ll do exactly as you say.”
Madam Zhong nodded and patted his hand again. “Also, I know I should not ask this of you but your father’s family has helped us when we needed help. You should also keep an eye on them. If they are in trouble, then try to help out and repay them.
“If you can, also tell Guanyu that she should come to visit more often. Even though she is staying in Xiao Li’s sect and probably has a good life there, she should still try to see her parents at least every now and then.
“Other than that, just focus on your own life. I’m sure life in the sect will be good for you. Anyway, you stayed here for ten years. I’m grateful that you took the time to accompany your old mother for such a long time but it’s time for you to return and pick up where you left off now. You have to live your own life. Don’t put that on hold for me any longer.”
“I’ll do that.” Jing Yi barely got the words out but he knew he had to promise her at least this. It was what she would want to hear most right now.
Madam Zhong nodded and then fell quiet. She held Jing Yi’s hand on one side and Qiu Ling’s on the other, looking at these two people that had been helping her for the past decade.
Her son had grown up. She didn’t need to worry anymore. He had become strong and smart and he had found a good partner. He had found his own place in life. What more could she wish for?
Looking at the two of them, she finally let go of her last apprehensions, closed her eyes, and drifted off into sleep.