First 30 Then 31 Now 32 – Reminding us what matters

Yesterday, an interview about my life as a stay-home dad was published online.

But this blog post isn’t about that (though you are still welcome to read about it here).

Instead, it’s about another interview.

Five days ago on Aug 29, I read a Facebook post about an interview with Andrew Hui, a 32 year old banker dying of cancer. It was a touching piece because he shared so honestly about his struggle, but also how he finally arrived at a sense of peace and acceptance: that his young life won’t be for much longer, but that he can still make a difference by sharing his journey to as many as he can reach via his family, friends and social media.

Sadly, two days later, he passed away on the night of Aug 31.

Though expected (doctors gave him just 2-3 months more to live), the suddenness of this news still seemed almost orchestrated to coincide with that posted interview. It was almost as if God decided to pull the plug as soon as that long, poignant interview was released. As if this young man’s sole life mission was now completed, and he could finally return to his heavenly home, rather than wait another couple of months.

I heaved a heavy sigh when the news broke. It’s not like this kind of news hasn’t been heard before. By now most of us would have had direct, or at least indirect, contact with one or more people we know who passed away from cancer.

But what got to me was the fact that his death at the tender age of 32 reminded me of two schoolmates of mine who passed on around that age too. The first was a Secondary 2 classmate who coincidentally shared the same first name as me. Kelvin Lim (a hardworking lawyer) passed on at 30 from liver cancer, months before his first child was born. A year later, Lenny Lee, a schoolmate and close friend from my university days passed away from leukemia as a newly-wedded 31 year old, faithfully serving God in campus ministries across the country.

And now this story of Andrew, a young man taken at 32 by non-hodgkin’s lymphoma.

30. 31. 32. Sighhh….

To say after hearing such tales that life is short, precious and we need to treasure every moment, is probably an adage we’ve heard (and said it ourselves) in different forms ad nauseam. To the point in fact where it seems meaningless and almost offensive to those who, like these young men, have left us all too soon.

I mean, who would argue that life is precious and everyday that we get to live is a day to give thanks for, right?

I suspect those of us too caught up with our own lives and livelihoods. Those of us in the pinkest of health and too busy living it up. Those of us too self-absorbed and living out our dream lives to be bothered about others whose lives are in turmoil.

In short, the majority of the world.

So to you Andrew, please allow me to say a heartfelt thanks. Just like my two schoolmates, your life ended way too soon. A life that could have accomplished so much more, yet a life that’s clearly full and well-lived, going by your account in the interview.

I want to thank you as well on behalf of my wife and two sons. I’ve shared with them your story because I don’t ever want any of us to forget that giving thanks for everyday we have isn’t just a line we bandy about; it ought to be a mantra we all live out.

And focusing everyday to live for what truly matters.

And what truly matters is the heavenly future that is an inheritance awaiting those of us who choose to believe. That assurance is what will offer true peace in this increasingly chaotic world. The peace that you clearly had in your final days. Your courage in the face of such overwhelming odds belie your still tender age, and humbles many like me who are nearly twice yours.

Though I do not know you, I pray one day to meet you in heaven and thank you face-to-face. For your life was most certainly not lived in vain. It will always be a legacy that my family and I will remember, and which will give us the impetus to live out our remaining days on earth with strength and perseverance.

And peace. Genuine, abiding, peace.

Shalom Andrew. Lenny. Kelvin. Thank you for reminding us what truly matters.

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