top of page
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Pinterest

Like you did, mom.

by Rachelle Keng, MD

Rita Huang, PhD, PsyD, MEd

Rita Huang, PhD, PsyD, MEd



How does one measure a life?


26,822 days on this earth. 

1299 pounds of client records - the weight of secrets that she kept safe for decades.

2 published books.

13 broadcasted radio shows.

7 youtube and TV shows.


My mother is a very accomplished woman. She has so many degrees and letters after her name, I think Huang is her middle name?  She has led a counseling ministry at church, helped thousands of people in her private practice in East Lansing, and she has left a legacy for the hurting.


48 years, 2 months, 3 weeks, 1 day - the time she was faithful to my father in marriage.

38 years, 7 months, 1 week, 1 day - the time that this woman was my mother.


These are the measurable things.


But now, the immeasurable things...

The way she made you feel when she listened to you.

The way she made you feel... seen.

The way she made you so frustrated because she was right but you did not want to admit it.

The way she saw the future and all of its unfoldings before you lived it.

The way she believed in you and spoke with conviction.

The way she gave advice - I always joked that it was the sixth love language of Rita Huang.

The way she focused on what one could do, rather than what one could not do.

The way she was determined that labels did not define us.

The way she prayed.

As a little girl I would wake up in the morning and hear the muffled sound of someone praying, almost weeping, and singing. It was my mother. She would wake up every morning and sing the hymn “Make me a Blessing.”  And then she would pray for my brother and me in warrior style. She would pray for us to have good friends, pray for protection from our bullies, pray for strength for every exam, pray for our future spouses, and pray for us to know the Lord. She surrounded us with Christian influence - churches, retreats, fellowships. But ultimately, she knew the best parenting she could do for us was bring us to the throne of God every morning. And then she followed that by loving my brother and me unconditionally. She did everything to build our self-esteem and security. Every worry we had, she prayed with us. Every wrong decision we were about to make, she prayed silently that God would change our hearts. 

Mom, I promise to pray without ceasing for my you did.

My mother made childhood fun. I never knew our budget was tight. I had sandwiches cut into puzzle pieces, post it notes in my lunch everyday, and new clothes every school year. She built us a play deck loft in our playroom and pasted masking tape all over the basement to make a path for our scooters. I had ice skating lessons even though I was never going to make it to the Olympics. She corrected my piano playing although she had never picked up a musical instrument in her life. She would pay me to enter my “art museum” when I took over her kitchen and living room with my projects. She always found a way to give me more homework. Every barbie was earned by mommy’s homework, every piece of barbie clothing from piano practice. 


Mom, I promise to bring fun into the mundane for my girls…. like you did (although probably too late for the barbie thing)


My mother was a storyteller. She loved to make stories for us to finish and she sparked a creativity in both my brother and me. She loved to come up with quotes about life and about God. 


Mom, I promise to keep telling stories (yours and mine) to my girls.... like you did.


My mother got over many of her fears for us. When it was to advocate for us or give us the best, she never shied away from her insecurities or discomforts. She was a defender. She looked for the marginalized and cared for those who were lonely and forgotten. She focused on what people COULD do, rather than what they could not do. When I became a special needs mom, my mother fought alongside me. She was fiercely defensive of Maleia and saw all of the good in her. 


Mom, I promise to get over myself for my girls…. like you did.


My mother’s drive is what helped her leave all that was familiar when she was 22 years old and she came to the United States for graduate school. Her drive to do her best in motherhood is what caused her to be a stay at home mom for our childhood after completing her hard earned degrees. Her drive to do her best in her work for God is how she learned to run a small business on her own. She did not give up. 


Mom, I promise to not give up in motherhood….. like you did.


My mother was an incredibly wise woman. She worked hard to give my brother and me financial freedom. She engrained God’s word into our hearts. She knew how to read people. She had the face that my brother and I have inherited - the one that says “Tell me all of your problems” face. She had a way of seeing situations differently and that is what made her such a gifted counselor.


Mom, I promise to seek God for wisdom and I promise to listen to my children…like you did. 


My mother modeled caring for the broken by how she wanted to even do counseling sessions on Christmas Day. She spent hours praying and caring for her clients outside of their sessions. She had a heart that was generous with compassion and loved to give. In her 20s, she wrote a letter to my father, saying “ There are so many people who are having trouble in this world. They need love, support, and encouragement. What makes life meaningful is to help one another.”


Mom, I promise to care for the brokenhearted… like you did. 


My mother loved Jesus. A month before her death, we had a conversation in which I asked her what she would say to Jesus when she saw him. She said, “I would tell him - I love him. I see him. I don’t always understand the reason why.” 


The last six months, we did not always understand the reasons why my mother had to have cancer. But in these six months, we had the blessing of being able to tell our mother how much we loved her and appreciated everything she had done for us. We celebrated birthdays, our last holidays together, celebrated my parents’ marriage renewal. We learned to give in ways we didn’t know were possible. We were stretched to our limits in many ways, and most importantly, we learned to forgive. We learned to focus on grace amidst the brokenness of dying. We learned to choose joy when we saw God’s goodness rather than our situation. We learned to trust in the Lord with all of our hearts and not lean on our own understanding. In all of our ways, we committed our days to the Lord, and He directed our path. This was the verse from Proverbs 3:5 that our mother had imprinted on us as children. We had the privilege of honoring our mother to the arms of Jesus. When you have a diagnosis with a deadline, it’s funny how grace overpowers all the brokenness. I wish it did not take a diagnosis to drive us to soften our hearts. But in our family, God taught us to number our days through cancer.


I had always been my mother’s toughest critic. But in hindsight, I now understand. I now understand my mother in her entirety, as complex and complicated as she was - that she was the best mother I could have ever asked or hoped for. She was Jesus with skin on. She taught me how to be a mother with her sacrificial love. Her prayers gave me my career, my sweet husband, and a mission in motherhood. And so now, I continue to share my mom’s legacy with the world. Her drive, compassion, and innovative spirit lives on in me. Her heart for God continues to beat in me. 


I miss you and l love you mom. 

Until we meet again, I will be the mother for my girls that you have been for me.

I will love them in all the ways you have loved me.

Like you did, mom.

My mom's favorite hymn,
"Make Me a Blessing" sung by
Anna Maria Horn

© 2023 por Rachelle Keng.

bottom of page