July 8, 2008 07:00 PM
When someone passes away at the age of 31, they say it is untimely. When he is your brother, it becomes unfair.
An meant different things to different people for he was an ambitious person with diverse interests. His colleagues knew him as a tireless worker who often confused home for the office. His classmates resented him, for An was a bright student who always graduated with the highest of honors and first in his class. His friends, including his classmates (and neighbors), adored him for his humor, taste, and imagination, qualities that fueled his passion for singing, cooking, and photography. His relatives, his wife, and his family… we simply loved him for him, every moment that he was with us, and every moment thereafter. We loved him when he was healthy and he redefined our capacity to love when he became ill.
Most acknowledged An for his intellect but I understood him for much more than that. When An graduated from high school in 1993, he collected more than a diploma. He was awarded with multiple shiny medals that decorated his neck, and made him appear like a world-class Olympian for his various outstanding academic achievements. After the ceremonies, An happily lent me a few of his medals amidst the celebrations. I proudly wore them around my neck and proceeded to walk around town as if I earned them. That evening, I was never more popular. I felt like someone who just won the local election in a landslide the people’s overwhelming choice, the people’s champion. An understood the type of recognition I would receive, and he was willing to share his success and his moment for another’s happiness. I tell you this story now because, in truth, An always was my champion.
Late in life, An developed a keen interest in photography. Much like anything he ever pursued, he became a skilled photographer in no time. I never asked him how or why he was fascinated with photography. Perhaps he knew his time was short and wanted to leave tangible memories long after he’d gone. Or perhaps he found inspiration in his subjects, vitality to his life. But no matter the reason, through photography, An had the ability to illuminate beauty from the ordinary. He used his camera to capture that we could not see, and today, I use my voice and speak for all… let us always remember and cherish, he, whom we cannot see.
An, life before you seemed forgetful, with you, beautiful, and after you, meaningful. Thank you all for your kindness and sympathy, and thank you An, the most courageous person I ever knew.
July 8, 2008 07:00 PM
Sometimes, he is awake,
And I watch, emotionless.
Wary of the slightest mistake,
How compassion becomes weakness.
Sometimes, he is asleep,
And I wonder, silently.
How pain too cruel and deep,
Unforgiving and constantly.
Sometimes, I pray,
And I seek, plead.
Kindly show him the way,
The way to succeed.
Sometimes, I remember,
And I treasure, the memories.
How we celebrate in October,
With no mention of cemeteries.
Sometimes, I imagine,
And we grow old, together.
No illness, nor medicine,
Only love for my brother
- Chuong Ly
July 8, 2008 07:00 PM
Good evening everyone,
As an introduction to the photos presentation that will follow shortly, just very briefly, this is how we remember An, our very dear son.
An was born in the Philippines in October 1976 and is the middle of our three sons. As a toddler, An was very cute, active, playful, and very inquisitive. During his pre-school days, An used to ask a lot of "whys" and often followed-up his story with intelligent questions.
For all his years in life, An was a constant source of joy, happiness, and inspiration for all of us in the family. We all loved him very much and I believe that no word can ever be sufficient to express our feeling for An.
An consistently excelled in schools at all levels. In elementary and high school years, An participated in various individual and team contests and won several awards for his alma mater. In college, An received a number of Dean's awards for academic excellence; and at the age of 20, An completed his B.S. degree, with Highest Honors, from Rutgers University in NJ.
I could still recall that when An was just about 7 years old, he started having some hands-on programming fun on our personal computer. And. eventually computer programming became his professional career for more than 11 years with Computer Associates Inc..
An always loved to be independent. He worked part-time to fund his college education to relieve some burdens on us while we were still adjusting to the new life in the US. And when there was an opportunity to transfer to CA's Sarasota office, An did not hesitate to volunteer so he could explore the world away from us.
Among An's interests and favorites, we remember that An loved warm climate. He was always fascinated with beaches. An liked yellow and blue colors and adored the pet dogs: Lido and Mukhi. Photography became a passion in the last two years of An's life. An also enjoyed travels and had always wanted to pursue graduate studies. As recent as last December, while on a hospital bed, An completed the final exams for courses in the two graduate programs that he enrolled last term and received straight A's in those courses. An's other interests were cooking, singing karaoke, and watching basketball games.
At 29, An got married to Christina, whom he had known and loved dearly for about six years.
Just a few days before An passed away, I felt as if there were two persons in me:
-- one person in me wanted to tell him: An, at 31, you are so young we want to see you around as long as we live so please continue to fight against all the odds.
-- the other person in me wanted to say: An, you have already suffered too much, you can go now, we are praying for your comfort and peace.
Although we are all deeply saddened, somehow in a way, we feel relieved that An does not have to suffer anymore and our son is now resting in peace, forever.
I am sure all of us shall remember An as a talented person with cheerful personality and always appeared with a smiling face.
An, I know you have gone fishing somewhere, but I do believe that you are hearing what I wanted to say: "You will always be missed, as you were loved, greatly, greatly, ... by all of us: parents and brothers. Good bye An."