A Time For Sorrow

There’s a time for joy and a time for sorrow. Following a happy reunion with my UW gang and coffee with the girl-I-like after more than a year of pandemic craziness, news of sickness and death started coming in from people around me.

First, my colleague told me her husband’s intestinal cancer had metastasized into the lymph nodes (stage 3) and will need to schedule for chemo and electro therapy. Then, one of my high school friends’ mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and she was deemed too old and weak for an operation to remove the tumor. And lastly, news of the death of my high school’s Chinese teacher reached my high school’s friends’ group and a few of us decided to attend her funeral on Sunday evening.

The grand funeral hall was packed with my late Chinese teachers’ family, friends, colleagues, and students. Each of the guests were handed a book that my late teacher had written and edited herself. It contained photos and letters and detailed chronological posts of her thoughts and feelings in the year long battle against tongue and throat cancer. I started sobbing as soon as I began reading the book. Even though I dreaded to read long passages of Chinese, I managed to read through the entire book from cover to cover after I got home, my eyes were watery most of the time. I think it was about 0330 when I finished reading and took a shower before going to bed.

My late Chinese teacher was one of the nicest teacher I had despite Chinese Language being my most dreaded subject back in the days. I studied it the hardest and yet get the lowest mark of all subjects. I can still recall one occasion when my late teacher asked me while smiling kindly in front of the class whether I was Chinese – “你係咪中國人嚟㗎?”. Don’t remember exactly what made her ask that question back then, and I was not at all offended, but her kind smile and voice stayed in my head after 20+ years, quite incredible if you think about it. I doubt that she would remember the incident or even me being once her student out of the thousands of students she had taught in the past 20+ years, but I think she’ll be happy to know from heaven that one of her students who hated Chinese is now learning Chinese calligraphy and am still a follower of Christ.

I must confess however, I still hate to read long passages of Chinese, it takes too much effort.

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