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.