Goodbye Old Friend, I'll miss you always
It was 31st July 2008, I just came back home from few rounds of travelling up and down to KL and other places. I was ready to have a rest and enjoy my time back at home.
So I logged into my gmail email account and cleared the usual rubbish from facebook's application updates, den I noticed something, an email from Mandy. It's title or subject of the email read : Mandy says goodbye. I was wondering to my self, where was she going? Is she coming back to Malaysia? or off to some adventure in foreign parts of the world. So I clicked the email. It read:
Dear beloved friends,
I am writing this email on behalf of my sister, Mandy Sut Yee Liang, to inform all of you that she has peacefully passed away at 12:30am on 24 July 2008.
Mandy has the following words for all of you,
"Please forgive me for not sharing with any of you earlier regarding how critical my condition was…
Please don't worry as I'm now comfortably and peacefully sleeping…"
She would like everyone to know that she had not forgotten about you, it is just that she was spending all her remaining time and energy with her family in preparation for her peaceful departure
I will be putting together a more detailed email about Mandy's recent event, and a more formal funeral notification as soon as I have the time to do so.
In the meantime, I would like leave a quote that Mandy prepared for all of you,
"As you love me, let there be no mourning when I go…
As we shall be happy for the dead are free… and I'm free…"
She was kind, strong and a brave woman. I am truly proud to be her brother.
Finally, please kindly pass on the news to anyone who knew Mandy personally, as I do not have all her contacts on hands.
Tze Cheng Liang
I was floored when I saw the email. It was the news which I have been afraid to recieve all these years. I was so stunned, just sat in front of my computer in a daze. It felt like a sick joke. I then check the date of the email (24th July 2008), I only knew of her departure 7 days later. That made me feel even sadder.
Then I checked the Inbox and saw, more mails. The next one was dated 25th July 2008.
Dear friends of Mandy,
Since the first notification email that I sent out today about Mandy's departure, we have been inundated with all your kind regards and offers of assistance. On behalf of Mandy and my parents, I would like to say thanks a million. We appreciate everyone's concern and love for the family. Most importantly, we would like all of you to know that we are coping very well, and we hope that you should too. Mandy wanted us to be happy for her enlightened journey to the world of paradise, we should grant her wish by being happy and make an effort to live a good and happy life too.
Please forgive me for I do not have the time to reply each of your email individually for the time being. I will attempt to cover every information and queries that you have in this email. Once we have finalised her funeral service and cremation, I will strive to attempt in replying each and every one of you (hopefully).
I would like to begin by writing a bit about Mandy's battle with her history of illness. For those of you who did not know, Mandy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. Since then, she had been under many different treatments (Chemo, Radiotherapy, Herbal medicine etc.). Due to the fact that her breast cancer had developed into mid to advanced stage when it first got discovered, we were told that the chances of cancer spreading was definitely possible; and it did.
There were good times and bad times over the past 4 years. Her breast cancer was 'cured' and she lived a normal and healthy life for a while. However, a year and a bit later, doctors found spread of cancer in her lymph nodes. She then commenced another round of treatments, which brought the cancer spread under control. She was then able to live another round of healthy normal life, before spots were found in her lung and liver. She went through yet more treatments and therapy, and was able to live normally again. In end of March 2008, she was admitted into hospital due to fever triggered by cancer. Her condition started to slowly deteriorate (but was still considered quite stable) since then, she was still able to work and appeared to be not much different to a healthy person. However, in the last week of May 2008, her health took a sudden dip and was rushed to hospital. This time, it was the real beginning of her journey end.
Despite of all these unfortunate events, she had been filling us with calm with her positiveness. She would joke about her illness, she would ease our sorrow and worries with her genuine happiness. Although she knew she was facing death all these times, she would shrug it off and just treat it as part of life and her destiny.
Mandy was an extremely strong and brave person. With all the hard times and difficulties she experienced during her fight with cancer, she always made extra efforts to stay positive and live happily regardless of all the pains, failures and disappointments. She would happily share her thoughts with us, yet made sure that we would not be worried too much about her. She had always been a caring person and tried her best to shield people around her from sadness and sorrow.
During the last month leading up to her departure, I truly believe that she was hanging on with her will power. She managed to prepare us and herself for her passing extremely well. She assured us that she was genuinely not afraid of death, and amazingly she helped and guided us to plan for her passing and things to do after her passing. She was truly a special one. It was very fortunate she was able to spend her last moments of her life at home with us. She was not required to be hospitalised, as she was calm enough to stay home with us without much troubles.
On a more personal note, Mandy was my inspiration and the best big sister in the world to me. She had taught me so many things and influenced me in so many ways. I had always planned my life with her in the picture; Plans to go holiday together, start our own cafe together, collaborate in music and arts together and to love and care for our parents whom we love so much together...
Her departure no doubt is the hardest and saddest thing that I had ever experienced, however my family believe that she is now free... This is by no means the end of her, it is just the beginning of a wonderful journey ahead of her. As my mother told us, Mandy is taking a long holiday away from us. We will definitely be seeing her again in the future.
I would like to share with all of you some of Mandy's thoughts when she was with us. She wrote a lot of things down in her notepad and diary - and wanted share these particular ones with everyone (Edited), in helping you to learn more about her as a person. I do hope that all of us keep these last words of her close to our hearts.
Accomplishments in Life:
I do not have much accomplishments in my life at all…
My biggest accomplishment would probably be… to deal with and settle everything before I cross over…
Someone once said something about "Cancer is to die consciously"… I truly agree with that… Many lived their lives consciously but they left the world in a sudden… Weren't able to say thank you to their loved ones… Left so much grievances and pain to their unprepared family and friends…
I'm thankful and lucky enough to be able to face death consciously, because I am given the chance to appreciate all the beautiful things/people in this world from a different perspective… and learn the things that I never knew before… to settle the things that I have never cared before… say my sorry and make peace with anyone whom I have upset before… and most important – to be able to say thank you and show my love to everyone I love and care about…
Most influential people in my life:
My mom and Chuan.
You have given me strength, courage and belief in facing my own destiny.
I have learnt so much, and want to learn much more. I know I will be learning more in my new journey. Truly thank you for enlightened me. 阿彌陀佛
My hobby and special interests:
Arts & Crafts & Paintings… Very fond of beautiful things that are handmade because every detail required all the attention, time and effort… and that's the "beauty" I see in handmade Art & Craft & Paintings… The passion, the patience, the skills and the details… I wish I had put more time and efforts into Art / Craft / Drawing and Paintings and started from there earlier without any fear and lack of confidence… (I was in primary school and someone told me that Artists are usually very poor and they wont get famous and rich until they passed away?) … I didn't realise that sometimes we have to "just do it" instead of worrying too much about all the uncertainties… and we should always "listen to our heart and where our passion is" and when we put our heart and efforts into it, things will work out eventually…
Travelling… Enjoy taking my time (without rushing here and there) visiting all the localities and checking out some local cafes/markets instead of going to crowded shopping districts or big cities. Love taking my time to learn and experience the culture and the life of the locals… Even sitting around just observing around would satisfy me easily…
I enjoy reading very much…I believe knowledge can be gained from books if only we know where to find them and have the thirst to learn.
I enjoy reading Art magazines as they give me inspirations and ideas and appreciate other's creativities…
And I love reading Non-Fictions… I'm into self-help or philosophy kind of books that require some deep thinking… My favourite book is "Textbook of Wisdom" by Edward De Bono. He has written many well-known books later on but none could compare to this one (no longer in published). Every page is full of GOLD!
Things I want to say to everyone:
I thank you all for the love & support that everyone has shown and given me…
As you love me, let there be no mourning when I go…
As we shall be happy for the dead are free… and I'm free…
They said, "Death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity"…
Knowing that I will forever stay YOUNG and BEAUTIFUL in your memories…
That, I shall CELEBRATE!! =)
I love you all, my family, my friends, colleagues and all the beautiful & loving people who have crossed my path…
May you all make the most of life's experiences in every way…
And appreciate every minute of every hour of ever day…
Don't wait for tomorrow, have confidence in yourself, and do not be afraid - just do it! …
Time and life do not wait for you at all…
She had a blog at http://ookiooki.blogspot.com, where she wrote down her feelings and experience over the past recent years. She did not cancel her blog when she left, so it is still up for everyone to access. If you want to know more about her in her honest self, you may go visit her blog. You may also post comments on her blog, as I am sure she will get your messages.
I plan to compile a collection of her own writings, artworks etc that she did not post in her blog into a booklet one day - though that will take a long time..
I have attached in this email a funeral time and date for those who want to attend. The artwork was done by Mandy two weeks ago in preparation for her departure. It is a beautiful piece, it captured her calmness, her bravery, and the very beautiful person that she was.
For those who will be attending her funeral, please kindly note that it was Mandy's wish that no flower or gift be spent on her departure. Use the money that would otherwise be spent on flower/present/etc, and donate them to the following organisations,
* Palliative Care Australia (http://www.palliativecare.org.au)
* Cancer Foundations
* Charity of your own choice
I will be monitoring her emails indefinitely. [obmit]
Little brother of Mandy (Also known as Sut Yee, Ooki),
Tze Cheng Liang
*sigh* Tears started to roll from my eyes when I finished reading the email.
The sick joke has turned into a reality, I will never ever see her again. We would not be able to go on holiday's together, share experiences, problems and much more. I was saving up to go to Melbourne to pay her a surprise visit her. Then I went to Sabah instead. I thought I had time. Only now I realise how foolish I had been.
Our friendship started online way back around 1996/1997 back in the day there was no MSN Messenger or any of the modern instant messaging (IM) services to play with, all we had were bulletin boards, and IRC (Internet Relayed Chat). She was very active in the channels (chat rooms) I was moderating. And when ICQ came along, we all jumped in as well, it was one of the successes to bring IM to main stream consumers.
Life happened and she then kind of disappeared from the online world for a few years. Popping back in once in a while on ICQ, we would exchange pleasantries and that was it. Then another few years rolled by. When we really got back in contact was when I was studying in USQ in 2003. Our interaction got more frequent with MSN Messenger. I only knew of her fight with cancer in 2005, cant recall exactly when. But it was around that time. There are times where she never came online and I would miss her presence. She was one of the few people who can light up my day just by being online. We rarely chatted about serious stuff, it was just fun.
Then I started my blog at blogger.com as it was the in thing. By February 2006 I got her to start her very own blog. Just as a way for me to know she is doing ok, and also I thought it might be a good way to know more about a person.
As both of us never met in-real-life (IRL) before, we decided to go somewhere to celebrate her recovering from her cancer. We chose Bali, Indonesia. I would fly in, from KL, and she would fly from Melbourne. So the two strangers who had known each other for nearly 10 years finally met in Bali on May 2008. (Images from Bali). That was also the last time I would see her IRL.
After Bali, all we ever made were plans for another trip to some other places, then the cancer came back, and again. Every time she told me it came back, my heart dropped again. Every time I was thinking to myself how can the world be so unfair, she was still very young, just enjoying her life. Why does she need to go through all this? This year, we were suppose to go to China before the Olympic Games. But her condition worsen and she said lets put the plans on hold. And the rest was history.
She was one of those interesting, people whom I find rare, even in my current circle of friends. Her outlook on life was always positive, she was funny and she always had a way with words. We would always try to out do each other by trying to publish more blog post than the other. She would win of course. She's way more creative and smart than me.
So after a while, I decide the best way for me to do something in her memory was to blog. But I didn't want to blog the old way, I would like to do something which would impress her. That was why I signed up this account and started to blog. I inspired her to blog (I'd like to think I did), now she inspires me to. I promised myself I would blog as much as possible. And I will, but nothing too personal, cos that would not be impressive now would it ?
Goodbye my friend, I'll miss you always
PS A lifetime is only a short while, I will see you soon my friend.