by Elvis Wong

I bowed my head, closed my eyes, and listened to the hymns that were sung as the music resonated off the arched walls of the church sanctuary; I listened to the obituaries of those close friends and family as they spoke with brittle and broken voices, tears filling their eyes; I listened, to those who were mourning and crying for the loss of a beloved father and husband, dearest friend, and wonderful co-worker—the loss of Uncle Joe.
Life is fragile. Over this past year, I have received the sudden news of the deaths of people near to me; all unexpected and untimely deaths. Uncle Joe particularly, whom I’ve known for almost all of my life, was a close family friend. This past winter, he went to Hong Kong for vacation and one day, while he was playing badminton, he suddenly collapsed from a heart attack and passed away.
Death is darkness. I remember standing in line during the funeral, waiting for people to pay their respects and support for the family. Auntie Heidi, Uncle Joe’s wife, was filled with brokenness: throughout the entire service, everyone could hear the grief emitting from her voice; the whole scene was utterly heart-wrenching and even I, who was never attached to Uncle Joe, could feel her pain. The whole room was occupied by the blowing of noses, sniffing, and relieving hugs.
Affection creates emotion. When it was finally my turn to face the remains of this sorrowful family, my reaction was quite shocking. With outstretched arms, I embraced both Auntie Heidi and her daughter; what was actually a brief instant seemed like an eternity. I then turned around and began walking out toward the door—and it was at that single moment that I shed a tear.
I realize that death could be knocking on everyone’s door at any moment. Every day, humans are exposed to countless dangers. Take, for instance, driving your car to school, or even walking across a street. I know that the chances of these things posing threats to your life are unlikely, but accidents do happen.
My religion tells me that God will bless those who worship Him. With this reassurance, I have assumed that the people around me are immune to death. These sudden deaths have collectively told me otherwise.
Knocking on wood as I write this, I have wondered to myself: “What if, suddenly, one of my own family members died? How would I live with that reality? That shock? Would I be so grieved with pain and sorrow that I would faint after attending funeral service like Auntie Heidi did?”
Hopefully I will never have to deal with the answers. All I know is that because life can be so short, we must cherish the people around us; each and every one of them.
Is it difficult to obey your parents even though it gets in the way of your time spent playing CoD or talking on the phone with your best friend? Does it harm you any to give a nice compliment to someone that you see around school? Does it hurt to be polite to your classmates when they’re in a bad mood?
You’d be surprised to discover that these subtle acts of kindness can make a positive impact on someone’s day because no matter how sorrowful yesterday was, we can all be a part in bringing happiness to others tomorrow.