Life (events) in rapid succession

Things seem to happen in threes. The past week, I’ve been a fairly major participant in three major life all occurring in very rapid succession. It’s enough to make me dramatic about the big things – though that’s not exactly out of character for me anyway. It has a certain way of giving everything a different sheen.

Event 1: Memorial for Gary

Tweet for Gary

One day in April, my best friend posted in Facebook that her father had died. (The above tweet is likely what I did between finding out and calling her.) Life intervened a few times before she could get her closure – her grandfather would also leave us five weeks later, and she had to pack up her life in Winnipeg to move back to Vancouver for the summer, as she had previously already planned to do, before the shock had even properly set in. I admire her for her strength during that time, and am glad she and her mom are blessed with such support from their loving friends and extended family.

Death is new to me, but I’ve probably spent enough time skirting its edges in culture to have earned honourary goth points. It’s still mostly theory for me. Gary’s death is certainly up there on the short (but destined to lengthen) list of those I’ve known who have died. He knew how to pay a compliment. I will never forget how quietly happy I was to hear his comments on my photography, coming from a guy who most certainly knew what he was talking about.

Most of all, he liked us – and not just because we were friends with his daughter. For a gaggle of slightly insecure teenage girls feeling a yearning for expression, it was exactly what we needed, when we needed it. He never hesitated to share his passion with us, and had an uncanny way of getting us to reciprocate it by sharing ours, even before we knew much of anything about the nature of our talents.

His memorial was truly something. There are so many self-help books that start off asking you what you want people to say at your memorial. It makes less sense if you’ve never been to one; but it also means that much more if you get to go to one for someone who did incredible things; who embodied selflessness and warmth. I will always be glad to have known him, and am looking forward to helping my friend see his memory live on through the incredible art of his final months and years.

Event 2: Convocation

Two days later, I joined a passle of other graduates convocating at Simon Fraser University, to receive my blinged-out Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours) majoring in Communication, co-operative education. It was a chilly day. My family was in attendance, and I was glad to see that I would be convocating with other stragglers that also took their sweet time with co-op and classes. Admittedly, I was probably not as taken with the ceremony as I could have been – I finished the honours and have been working for over a month, and I haven’t lived the typical student life of lectures and final papers since the end of 2005.

I’m still somewhat in the process of parsing what it all means – for my immediate future, as well as generally for the direction of my life. It’s taken so many turns, particularly in the last year, that the degree I thought I had – and that I thought I wanted – is so different from what it is now. It will only keep changing, of course. That’s the fun and the terror.

Of course, the fact of my convocation didn’t really hit home, until…

Event 3: A Birthday

…my dad’s 60th birthday party in Hong Kong, when pictures of me in my robes were making rounds with the family members that I haven’t seen since 2004. It being a co-production of my parents, just about every last detail was perfect. I’m glad my brother, my sister-in-law and I were able to give a present that was meaningful not only to be my dad, but for us (or at least me) as well. I certainly don’t come by my Rock Band abilities by coincidence only. Despite the fact that we didn’t break out the karaoke as per usual, it was an awesome time and surprisingly lacking in the sort of family tensions that usually taint these things just a little.

Perhaps it’s the week I’ve had.

(Just as cutting my hair and having my mom haggle over the price and negotiate with the stylist over what she thinks I want has become something of a tradition / ritual in Hong Kong, tomorrow we are visiting the graveyards to pay respects to my ancestors’ remains. Pictures forthcoming, promise.)

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