Cleaning Up

When do you start cleaning up someone's stuff after they've passed on?
Logically, that stuff isn't needed anymore. It's just taking up space.

Some of it's very sentimental, of course, and you should never get rid of it.
Some of it's stuff that really isn't, and eventually, you'll throw it out, but when is the right time to handle that?
Is doing it too soon just considered cold?
Is doing it too late just considered lamenting in the sorrow, and not giving yourself closure?

After the Service

Nah, not crying a lot anymore, but it always feels like it's right under the surface and ready to burst out at any time.

Unfortunate News about March 19, 2008

A lot of you have probably heard this (or figured it out) already, but I have some rather sad news to bear.

With extremely deep regret, I'm very sorry to announce that my mom passed away very suddenly on Wednesday night (March 19, 2008, Pacific time) of a brain aneurism. She was in her peak health: medical and blood tests from a few days prior came back showing near-optimum levels for everything from cholesterol to blood pressure to body alkalinity to everything. But even so, from the first signs of a headache to irreversible brain damage, it was only 30 or 45 minutes. She spent her last moments at home and at Vancouver General Hospital, with my father always by her side, but likely unaware of anything happening around her. It was four hours later when the decision was made to pull the lung support machine, after which it was clear her body was only a body: the spirit had long left on its own.

Thank you all graciously for your support in this emotional time. I can really only muster up two words: too early. The family is obviously very shocked at what's happened -- I was actually at another funeral service in Taiwan when I received the call.

I hope that those of you who have met her and gotten to know her will remember her as the happy, active, loving, and playful person she was. She's a wonderful mother, a loving wife, and a caring friend, a warm person all around who shone positivity wherever she went. At 57, she still had so much love to give, and so much to look forward to with us. It's really just too early. She was very much looking forward to our upcoming events and occasions, and we hope to make her proud by continuing in the spirit of her wishes. (It's strange to refer to her in past tense.)

I didn't really have much to say for days after it happened. All her children returned to Vancouver in early April and will stay through late May, after which further plans will become more definite. There was a service in Vancouver on April 12, and over 300 people came to pay their respects -- we filled up the 220-seat chapel and people had to stand outside to peer in through the open windows.

While still in the shock of this news, I implore you to cherish the relationships with your loved ones. Our time here is short, sometimes much too short. Here's wishing you love and good health.

Sharing and Gratitude

When I think of Mom’s life, it's filled with happy memories, fun times, laughs, and above all, an abundance of love and cheer. I feel sadness in that she has left our world to join another. But it's when I think about the future, about all the things we worked towards that she will miss, that I feel a greater sadness. I feel sorrow for the loved ones in our lives who never had the chance to meet her, for our children, her grandchildren yet unborn, to whom she could have brought her love and happiness.

In good times, she was a cheery friend. In bad times, she was a comforting confidante. And through all, she was a loving wife and mother. She provided the guidance we needed and the advice we sought.

When we were kids, Mom did her grocery shopping in Chinatown, with kids in tow. Our job was to carry the groceries, but we absorbed her shopping habits too. After I moved away, I used to call her whenever I stepped into a Chinese supermarket. Each and every time, I felt like I was growing up all over again. I filled with pride at having purchased the same foods she used to, the same brands she used to.

Just like Mom.

I’m 33 now, and I still feel her with me everytime I shop for groceries.

Mom is often described as always happy, but her happiness was directly tied to that of her family and friends. We are extensions of her: when we were happy, she glowed for us; when we hurt, she felt our pain even more. And she sacrificed so much for us.
In 1973, Mom married Dad and joined him in America. Together, they would boldly forge a new life in a foreign land, barely speaking the language. To help pay the bills, Mom worked tirelessly in a Chinese restaurant waiting tables. Come Christmas that year, a season to be with family, she was incredibly homesick. She put on a brave face in front of everyone, finishing her shift serving a Christmas party, and then hid in a back corner crying to herself.

It wasn't until the children had grown up, that she and my father had began to afford themselves the attention and comforts they'd given us all those previous years.
Throughout our childhoods, she taught us Chinese at home, after having worked long hours in the office and coming home to cook for a hungry family. She spent all her free time nurturing our Mandarin. When we entered into Chinese public speaking contests, she practiced with us night in and night out, with the conviction of an Olympic trainer. We always placed in the top three. That we all speak Mandarin fluently and have careers in Asia today is a direct reflection of her work.

In her short 57 years, Mom lived her days to the fullest she knew how. She was full of life, full of love, full of curiosity. She was active, playful, colourful. She really had that zest for life. Though the cause, the sudden timing, and the utter unfairness of her passing has shocked all of us, we should take solace in knowing that she passed peacefully and painlessly.
A week ago, I had a dream. Though most of it was blurred as I awoke, certain parts remain clear. My family was in some kind of darkness or peril, and a gorgeous butterfly appeared and led us to safety, to light, to beauty, to happiness. As she flittered along her merry way in my dream, we realized it was dying. It had sacrificed its own short, short lifespan and spent it instead bringing us to the light.

A man – a counselor of sorts – simply advised us to let her go peacefully, and that though her time was shortlived, it was beautiful, happy, and full. I started weeping uncontrollably, thankful to this act of selfless sacrifice, and I cried as I awoke that morning. It was clear to me: that butterfly symbolized our mom.

Her life was short, much too short, but in it, she did the most meaningful things for others. She cared for those around her and showed us all the beauty of life.

Throughout her life, she basked in the sunlight that shone upon us, instead of cowering in the shadows cast by the fear and uncertainty that we so often are distracted with. She encouraged us to go out into the world, to experience what it had to offer, to provide back what we had to offer it in return.

Mom spent a lot of time worrying too. Worrying for her husband, her children, worrying about the well-being of her siblings and her friends. She really cared for and took care of those around her, and it was very much appreciated.

Mom was someone who appreciated everything she had. Part of her appreciation for life was for those who took care of the people close to her.She was constantly thanking those around us – our classmates, colleagues, friends – for taking care of her loved ones.

And today, she's smiling upon you all for taking the time to pay your respects, and thanking you for supporting us in this time, in our past and in our futures. On her behalf, we give you our deepest, most heartfelt gratitude. Thank you.

Mom will be remembered for the joy she brought us, the love she shared with us, the world she made a brighter, better place. We will no doubt carry on living in her spirit.

I urge you too to remember the positive influences she had on your every day in your life, to remember the bright aura she radiated. I urge you even more to to go forth into the world and pay it forward.

Mom does know best. If we all took Mom's advice, this world would be a wondrous place indeed.

Who are Which

Some people are really good at comforting and consoling you.
Some people feel for you and want to, but don't know how to.
Some people are not compassionate and don't think much of it.

In times like this, you start to learn which of those the people around you really are.
Sometimes you're pleasantly surprised, and sometimes you're sorely disappointed.


The night air in Vancouver is so crisp. I woke up at 5am two nights ago (jetlagged), hobbled upstairs, and stared outside over the hilly landscape of Vancouver. Every tree, every streetlamp, every everything was in full HD resolution. In contrast, in Taipei, we're always looking through the white noise of pollution.


This stress is overwhelming me, and from all sides of life, too. My eyebrows are constantly furrowed into an untrimmed unibrow. My teeth and jaw are sore from being continually clenched tightly these two weeks. I'm getting double-handed b!tchslapped by life right now, and not enjoying it.

Plus, it's raining outside.

Losing It

I really need to start writing sh!t down.

The First of April

Why don't they just call April Fool's Day what it really is? Unreliable News Day.

Golly, I need a vacation. And bad.