By Assunta Ng
Choose a celebration party and not a funeral, my mom always said.
When my high school classmate Diana (Wong) Chan e-mailed me in January that her cancer was incurable, she had only a few months, maybe a little longer. When deciding whether I should visit her, my heart said, “Yes, Diana,” even though she didn’t directly ask me to come.
In June, we had a fun mini reunion of 14 ‘sisters’ in Toronto. I was hoping that it was not a goodbye. Unfortunately, it was. my friend died peacefully on Aug. 10.
“She was one of the most positive people you could ever meet,” said her son, Christopher, in his eulogy. “She’s an inspiration to those who knew her. Her positivity radiated, she always saw the bright side of things, and she tried to help you see them, too. Her smile and laughter were always contagious, and when she laughed, it was with every ounce of her being.”
If you were not close to her, you would not be able to tell Diana had cancer or that she had battled cancer for eight years. She always smiled even though chemo drugs had destroyed her liver. Some days, she felt fine. Other days, she was afflicted with fever and fatigue.
Miraculously, Diana was physically fine during my five-day visit. A remarkably strong person, she volunteered to drive the out-of-town ‘sisters’ to a restaurant to dine with other local ‘sisters.’ None of us had a car, and we didn’t know the way. At first, we said, “No way.” But she insisted.
During my trip, I did not hear a word of fear, worry, blame, bitterness, or sadness from Diana. I don’t recall her ever saying she wished she had more time. She never asked for less pain and suffering. She lived every day to the fullest.
Even in her final days, she counted her blessings. “I don’t want anybody to cry at my funeral,” she told her husband. “I have a good life. I want everybody to smile.”
Diana’s last wish was to donate her body to medical research.
My dear friends, please forgive me for not showing up at your loved ones’ funerals. Perhaps, now you understand my reasoning better. (end)