When Sheng Ru-zhi lost her only son, Zhang Kai, 11 years ago, she was devastated, but she was never alone. Zhang’s closest friends from school have never left Sheng’s side, even up until today.
When Zhang was diagnosed with leukemia in 2001, the seven friends were constantly going in and out of Zhang’s house, taking care of his mother and him.
After he passed away in 2004, Sheng was expecting to spend the rest of her life alone, mourning for her lost son. Three days later, however, the doorbell rang agin.
“I was alone at that time,” said Sheng in a People report. “They came into my house and filled it with life again.”
Sheng said she never thought these visits would continue for 11 years.
As the years have gone by, some of Zhang’s friends have graduated from universities and some are now married with children, but they continue taking care of Sheng. No matter how far they are, or how busy, Zhang’s former classmates always managed to squeeze in time to see Sheng in Hefei.
“They’re like my own children”, said Sheng.
During a snow storm in 2008, Li Fei bought groceries and delivered them to Sheng’s door, saying, “It’s very slippery outside so stay indoors. If these groceries aren’t enough, call me and I’ll deliver some more.”
Li now works in Xinjiang, but he still reminds his wife and daughter to visit his beloved friend’s mother.
Fu Xiao-zheng, who lives right around the corner from Sheng’s home, visits her on a weekly basis. When asked why he still continues to take care of her, he modestly replied, “It’s because I live nearby and have time.”
Sheng specifically recalls a day back in 2008 during an earthquake. As most of her neighbors had already left the apartment building, Sheng remained in her room, feeling hopeless.
“It was so loud outside and I was in bed,” Sheng recounts. Fu showed up at her door and said, “Mom, I’m here”. Sheng spent the night with Fu’s family in their car.
Fu, Li and five others became Sheng’s godchildren in 2010.
In 2012, when the government claimed Sheng’s apartment and relocated her to a new building, her seven godchildren chipped in money to help renovate her home. During this time, Sheng spent an entire three months living in Fu’s home.
As the heartwarming story was picked up by local media, Fu and his friends shied away from reporters, insisting that what they’re doing isn’t anything special at all.
“Taking care of [Sheng] is everyone’s responsibility,” Fu said. “Even after 10, or 20 years, we will still continue to take care of her.”
[Images via Shehui//Ixinwei]
By Sharon Choi