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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Rest in peace, Bryan Chiel

I was writing the screenplay for my new short film when my sister suddenly messaged me on Facebook Chat.

"Do you remember Bryan? Aunt Amy's son?" She asked.

I instantly had a bad feeling, and hoped silently that the conversation wouldn't be going to a direction that I didn't want it to go.

"Yes." I answered.

Aunt Amy was previously my dad's secretary back in the 90s. During Chinese New Year, she would always bring Bryan, her son, to our house. Even years after she stopped working with my dad.

My sister confirmed my fears.

"He died."


"Car accident."

It was a hit-and-run accident that happened last September. He was 20.

When you hear the news of one's death, you are immediately assailed by memories of that person. I tried hard to remember Bryan, I haven't seen him for many years, maybe even before I went to Australia. That was 7-8 years ago.

I remember a bright cheerful kid, with a shaved head, a jovial smile. He was quite tall even for his age then.

That was all I could remember, my memories were too vague. We might have played some video games together.

I looked at the news that my sister sent me.

"That was last year." I said.

"Yeah. We didn't even know. Dad just got the news from a friend."

I looked at the date. 28th of September.

"He died a few days after Zeg Zeg." I said, referring to my uncle. My dad's youngest brother. "We were also in mourning then."

"Yeah. We haven't kept in touch with Aunt Amy and her family for quite a while." My sister said.

We were never really good at keeping in touch with people. I thought. It runs in the family, I guess.

Few days ago, Aunt Amy's sister posted on The Star a letter that Aunt Amy wrote to Bryan when he was flying to New York for his studies.

My dear Bryan,

What better gift to give you than a heartfelt letter spun from the inner recesses of my heart? On top of that, this note is written with great sentiment as I’m using the Sheaffer your dad bought for me more than 20 years ago.

And I’m writing to my son who will be leaving the nest a day from now to a faraway land. I shall be careful not to let any teardrop smudge any of these pages, which are written in ink. That’s what style’s all about, yeah?

Thank you ... for the cheer you bring with your presence

Thank you for always holding my hand when we walk and talk

Thank you for the random disagreements concerning our personal viewpoints and the better understanding that arises out of these

Thank you for being you.

Thank you for walking this Kuan Yin Path alongside me in your own quiet way

Thank you for showing me your strength in the silence that you hold in pursuing your dreams

Thank you for the belief in yourself when all else fails within.

Thank you for introducing me to Youtube to revisit songs from days of yore

Thank you for appreciating the many things beyond your age

Thank you for your helping hand in our household chores

Thank you for taking pride in making the altar bright

Thank you, above all, for your myriad unassuming ways.

Thank you for choosing to be my son in this lifetime

Thank you for bonding so well with your Pa the way you do

Thank you for respecting and loving the elderly

Thank you for sharing with me your first love and first heartbreak, too.

“Thank you” seems too simple a word to use for you, Bryan

Thank you for your fine examples in living life

Thank you for having an observant eye

Thank you for wanting to repay society someday

Thank you for acknowledging Divine Grace in a sincere way.

Son, simply, thank you for your existence.

Rest in peace, Bryan Chiel Yee Hao.