My mask story…By Lechin Lu

Hello all,

Today we have a wonderful blog post by Lechin Lu. Her story about how her Covid journey began in China beside her dying Grandfather is both touching and important. We all sometimes forget that buried in all the heartbreak this pandemic has caused are so many stories of devotion and love.


--What does a mask mean to you?  Is it a necessary hassle? It is just personal protective equipment (PPE), or is it a fashion statement as well?

When I put mine on, I always think of my mom, who I last saw more than a year ago.

Before the holiday break in 2019, I got the news that my 95-year-old grandfather was in the palliative care unit in Guangzhou, my home city in China. So right after boxing day, I took the 16-hours flight home to see him, despite only staying there for 72 hours. But I was exhausted even before leaving Toronto. After all, I was in my final year of a part-time MBA program, four weeks into a new job, and a mother of two young children under the age of 4. With hindsight, I am so grateful that I went home. On my second day there, my grandfather passed away peacefully with family surrounding his bedside.

Amid grieving and all the administrative chaos involved in registering a death, my uncle told me about the vague report of a "SARS-like" virus in Wuhan, a city almost a thousand kilometres away. At first, I didn’t know what to make of the news except quietly hoping it was nothing more than a rumour on social media. But my mom sprang into action. She insisted I need to wear a good quality mask on the plane the next day. I know where that idea comes from.

Guangzhou was the first epicenter during SARS in 2003. That traumatizing experience has instilled the instinct to wear a mask in the face of any unknown respiratory threats from a cold or air pollution. But that was the evening of December 31, 2019. No one was thinking about masks. We drove through crowded streets filled with young people partying and laughing. We checked five places until we found some medical masks on the bottom shelf in the quiet corner of a 24-hour drugstore. Seeing my mom at the cashier, I remember thinking to myself that her overreaction must be triggered by the grief of losing her father.

Well, how wrong I was.

Of course, that evening, no one had any sense of how 2020 would unfold: the distress, loss of life, isolation, and anxiety. Still, what was clear to me then, and so much more so today, is that no matter what happens, there is always a reason to act and protect the ones you love. 

That is what a mask means to me.

The pandemic has kept my parents and me apart. But every time I wear a mask, I think of them and I feel their love.


Thank you Lechin! 


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