By Assunta Ng
How do you say goodbye to a friend who is dying?
You don’t. Or, at least, I don’t.
Last February, I got the news that a close friend had lung cancer and might not survive.
I said the most unimaginable thing. “Wait, don’t leave us yet.”
I couldn’t leave town during Lunar New Year.
“Believe in miracles,” I emailed him. “Every day is a gift.”
Am I selfish or what? Or maybe I am encouraging him to stretch life a little longer? Perhaps I was asking God for more mercy. I don’t know.
But I did know that I was gambling then. What if he didn’t make it to April? What if he went unconscious?
In March, I emailed him that we would be there on April 14.
My friends and I were prepared for an emotional reunion at his house. He had prepared, too. Four friends and I drove three hours from Toronto to London, Canada to see him.
It was unlike anything you could imagine of someone dying. He wasn’t lying in bed. If you didn’t know he had cancer, you would think he didn’t look too bad. Though he did lose a lot of weight, his spirits were high.
But it didn’t matter how he looked. We were happy that he was alive, still able to chat and reminisce about the good old days and our golden youth. Our friendship is close to half a century old.
He had anticipated our meeting for weeks, and his preparation was detailed and thoughtful.
He dug out old photos, so we could pass them back to our overseas friends. He ate, rested, and tried to sleep well, so that he would have the energy to talk to us for more than an hour. He doesn’t talk much normally to conserve energy.
I showed few signs of sadness, for I was focusing on the moment and sharing profound emotions and memories. I was overwhelmed with gratitude that he could be with us. One friend tried to control her tears. His sister cried in another room.
When the time came for us to leave, no one uttered the word goodbye. I still ask the same question that I did before. Why him? He never smokes. He’s only 62. A professor in medicine, he knows how to take care of his body better than any of our friends.
Could it be secondhand smoke? His two brothers are smokers.
Toronto vs. Vancouver
Which city has better Chinese food? My friend, a Torontonian, argued that Hong Kong had invested a lot of money in building great Chinese restaurants in Toronto. He was surprised to hear that I thought B.C. Chinese food was better.
“No, no, no,” he said. “Our Chinese food is so fabulous that even New York Chinese say that our Chinese food is beyond comparison.”
Both Toronto and B.C. Chinese food set a high standard. However, I noticed that B.C. Chinese food has higher prices.
I was amazed a bowl of clam porridge that fed five people only cost $8. All the Chinese restaurants have long lines on weekends. They were packed even before 6 p.m.
Never mind that Toronto charges 13 percent sales tax on restaurants during weekends and only 9 percent on weekdays.
Salt-free fries at McDonald’s
I never expected to eat at McDonald’s when I was in Toronto, but a twist of fate brought us to Mr. Mac, and I discovered something new — eating French fries without salt.
During our drive from London to Toronto, Canada, we were hungry. The only thing that came to our mind was, “Where is the nearest McDonald’s?”
Soon, we exited the freeway and found one. My friend was clever — he ordered salt-free fries. I didn’t know we could do that.
For five adults, we ordered two Angus mushrooms burgers and salt-free fries to share.
Gluttony is my sin. Once I devour one fry, I couldn’t stop. The fries taste even better without salt.
But with salt-free fries, I don’t have to feel guilty. McDonald’s is a traveler’s friend. (end)
To read the publisher’s blog in Chinese, visit www.seattlechinesepost.com.