Remi Garlock-Cisna remembers her mother as "very smart, very stubborn." Thirty-eight-year-old Alicia Garlock of Melfort, Sask., died overseas last week after a battle with a mysterious illness.
The news of her passing came as a shock to her family.
Garlock had been working as a teacher in China when she fell ill. Her daughter had been working in Cambodia at the time and dropped everything to visit her mother in the hospital when she was first admitted in mid-January.
"The whole time I was pretty positive," Garlock-Cisna said.
"The doctors said a couple times, when she was getting bad, that she would not make it, there was no way. And she pulled through a couple times."
Her mother's strength gave Garlock-Cisna the confidence she could fly back to Canada to visit her family for a week and then return to be by her mother's side, or arrange for her to be flown to Canada.
But the day she landed in Canada, Garlock-Cisna got a call that her mother had passed away.
Garlock-Cisna said the doctors had many theories as to what caused her mom to be sick, but they never confirmed a reason for her death.
"They said that they thought it started off as pneumonia and that she caught some kind of influenza, a new strain, but they never actually figured it out."
Body not being released
Garlock's hospital stay in China racked up a substantial medical bill: Garlock-Cisna estimates it's sitting at around $250,000.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family manage the cost.
Garlock-Cisna, 20, said the hospital will not release the body until the medical bills have been paid.
Going forward, she's hoping to get a job to help her grandparents pay off the debt.
'I took it for granted'
Garlock-Cisna said that she wasn't always close with her mother growing up, but that in recent years, they had become very close.
"She was 17 when she had me, and she was working four jobs at some points trying to help raise me and go to university at the same time," she said.
"I took it for granted."