Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Pause in Life

In the morning of April 9th, Friday, our blinking answering machine brought us the sad news that a long time friend passed away the previous night. Even though we knew her medical conditions, we were still deeply shaken and saddened.

The surviving husband is a friend of mine for 24 years, dating back to our graduate school years together. I met and got to know the deceased friend from then. From Beijing, China to Pasadena, California, to the suburbs of Dallas, Texas, their life and ours have intersected many times, and the two families have many common friends. As the obituary spread, emails and phone calls poured in from around the country and around the world to her husband. Some contacted me, because they could not get through to him, or they were afraid that they would cry if talking to him directly, or they just wanted to know some background information before talking to him. From near and far, they expressed their shock, their sorrow for the loss and their concerns of the surviving young children.
Their relatives, his close friends and hers, paused their life to come to him to provide help, sympathy and support. A friend rushed to Dallas Friday afternoon without going home after work, local friends came after dinner. By that evening, a roomful of relatives and friends surrounded him in his living room.
We chatted, and sometimes we just sat there in silence comforted by the presence of each other. During the conversations, reminiscent of her last days, he recited to us what she told him: " I have had a good life - a loving husband, two beautiful children. It will be very hard on you when I am gone....." His voice cracked, tears flew down his cheeks. I padded his shoulder. The second time I saw him cry was on Sunday morning, when one of his closest friends arrived at his house, shook his hands, pulled him closer to embrace him.
I was moved and inspired by the sympathy and friendship his friends showed.
We extend our hands to friends in need, we also should lean on our friends when we are in need. I wished that my friend had done the latter more. To the first generation immigrants - friends are families.
During the pause of life in that 4 days - from the day after to the day of funeral service, I pondered a lot about human sympathy, friendship, love, and life. Cherish our families, cherish our friends, cherish love and cherish friendship. Love and being loved greatly enrich our life.
Now when I go to work in the morning, I hug Lily tighter and kiss her longer than before.

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