In chapter 19 a txiv neeb performs a healing ceremony for both the family and for Lia. The Lees spread out tarps to protect against the pigs’ blood and the rituals are performed in the earning morning because that is when the soul can come back better. The Lees paid $225, a substantial portion of their social security, in order to purchase the cows. The first pig sacrificed is to safeguard the health and well-being of the family for the coming year. The txiv neeb connects the pig to the Lees via a cord – bonding the souls. The pigs is then killed and taken apart in order to be eaten. The second pig is sacrificed for Lia’s health. Noua and Nat Kao believed that Lia’s condition as probably beyond the reach of spiritual healing, however, they still maintained some hope. Once again, a cord was attaching Lia to the pig and her back was marked with blood.
The afterword discusses Lia’s condition as she is still alive but in a persistent vegetative state, and what happened with the rest of her family. Nao Kao passed away from congestive heart failure. One aspect of the afterword I found interesting was when Anne Fadiman talks about how you only hear about Hmong in the media when something goes wrong. For example, a Hmong deer hunter killed six white deer hunters, and people conspired and blamed it on the Hmong culture. I think this is an unfortunate circumstance that occurs everyday and has a substantial impact on racial and ethnic minorities. Certain media outlets are notorious for how they title new articles. For example, if a black and white person were to commit the same crime, there are many cases in which the white person will be referred to as a “college student” in the title, while the black person would be referred to as “black” or “African American”. I think the media plays a substantial role in the perceptions and stereotypes of racial minorities.
Overall I really enjoyed reading this book and I think it was effective in exemplifying the difference in cultural beliefs between the U.S. healthcare system and Hmong traditional practices. I think it is immensely important to remember that Anne Fadiman only discussed the unfortunate circumstances of one family, and that there are plenty of other cases similar to the Lees’ that still occur today. Hopefully with continued research and education, programs can be created and implemented into our healthcare system that lessen such racial disparities.