It was a Thursday morning, 8.30 a.m. pacific time, when I was cruising along 101 freeway to the SFO airport to catch my flight at 11 a.m. The journey was filled with a sense of anxiety, and I thought I was just anxious about not being able to catch the flight although I am still 3 hours away from the flight time, and the traffic wasn't heavy given that I had been cruising along at 80-100 mph. Never would I imagine my dear friend was battling for his life during that moment, at the other side of world.I thought everything went well, with me arriving at the airport ahead of time. It was a rough and choppy flight, “Just another choppy flight”, I silently mumbled to myself.
The plane landed at 12:20am, after a tiring and unusually long 7.5 hours of flight journey. I thought the day's ordeal is over, and I can finally spend some time with my wife.
*Beep* My mobile phone beeped furiously the moment I switched it on, just after I came down from the plane. “It must be Yeez SMS'ing me about her arrival to receive me at the airport”, I told myself. Along with these SMS messages that she sent, came a rather unfamiliar message from Raymond. Surely he knew I am still travelling, and will not have sent me a message for a TPY GTG, which in anycase, it'as a long while since I went with him and the folks.
My heart sank when I read his message.
He has gone. My dear friend who has been an inspirational figure and encouraging friend in my life for the past three years since we first met, could not overcome the power of the virus, and has left with the lord while I was riding on the choppy flight.
Suddenly, my eyes burst into tears, quietly.
This can't be real, I still could not believe what's in the SMS. From the time he was first diagnosed of the fearful illness, he had never shown any sign of defeat nor resignation. He was a brave and courageous man, and thoughtful too, for not wanting his wife and his surrounding friends to worry too much about his condition. Even as he was fighting his own battle, he had never stopped encouraging and counselling people around him, including yours truly. His candid response and opinion is, has always been, and will always be, a form of strength and a source of light to me.
For somebody who braved through numerous times of chemotherapy, constantly seeking other medication alternatives and staying positive all the time, he has my upmost respect. Where he can stay positive all the time, then I should feel ashame of myself for letting work pressure overcome me so easily.
“I have to pay my last respect to him … now “, as I was crusing back home. After a quick wash up, I speed off with Yeez again, to his wake. It was a sober journey, occassionally linger with some rattling noise that would have annoyed me in the normal days. But that night, the ride seemed rather quiet.
It was about 2a.m. when we reached his wake. The footsteps to the pavilion where the wake was held, were rather heavy. A familiar photo appeared right in front of us, and our hearts sank further. While holding the joss-sticks, my teary eyes cried again. Yeez couldn't control her emotion and cried quietly. Looking at his serene and tranquil face, I feel there's an inner peace in him as he left earlier. We finally broke down, but decided to compose ourselves after a couple of minute, and bid him farewell.
Before we left, I steathily prayed, “Your modding spirit and our friendship will always be in my heart, do rest in peace”
His beloved Bora in 2002