How does one say goodbye to a dear friend who has passed too soon. Sometimes, it escapes me how cruel life can turn out to be. The loss of a loved one is not a thing that you can prepare for ahead of time. Events occurred and things can change very quickly from one moment to the next. In one moment things are fine then next thing you know, things turn for the worse. It all happened so quickly that there was no time to piece it all together. You go into a sort of shock and in the moment, things just go quiet.
I was at a loss for words when I heard the sad news. A good friend of mine, Tan Phan passed away Monday night. The news was something that I never wanted to hear about. I feared the day that I would have to face it. I try to take comfort in hearing that he went peacefully but a part of me does not want to let go since it was all too soon. He was a guy who received the short end of the stick in life and made the most of it.
My good friend, Tan was a terrific guy. He was the type of guy that hated idling around. While he was awaiting a new kidney, I could tell that he frustrated that he was not doing more with his life. But given his predicament, he made the best hands with the cards that he was dealt. I recall him having a new take on life when he received a new kidney. He wanted to go out there. Do more! See more! And experience everything that life throws at him. Every time I spoke with him, he had a new idea for a new adventure. At one point, you just couldn’t keep him still. It was as if he was infused with a new sense of purpose and he went all in!
Tan and I would talk for hours over a cup of coffee at the Hamilton mountain brow. This was the place that we would go to, just to shoot the shit. With a hot cup of coffee in our hands and a great view of the city, we would talk of hobbies and travels. We were both into photography so we were always comparing notes. We were both on the road often so we were always dreaming of new destinations to visit. The road trip to the west coast was something that he and I were supposed to do together but due to bad timing, I went alone and he went a year later. His road trip would kick my road trip’s ass any day. He explored while he was out there. He met new people. He did a lot of things at the spur of the moment. I have no idea how he planned his trip but he was all over the map. Looking at his pictures and videos, he did a lot more than what I did.
Tan and I would engage in many conversations and discussions about life in general. If you have ever spoken with Tan, you probably would have a hard time comprehending what goes on inside his head. Sometimes, he would have to explain his ideas a couple of times before I understood the idea that he was trying to convey. We saw many things eye to eye since we had a lot of things in common but we also had our difference. We never let our differences come between us though. Tan had his own insights on life and would express it when he could. His outlook on life was that you go out there and live it to the fullest. He would prefer that you seize the moment and make the most of it and not idling around. But at the same time, he was willing to grab that one cup of coffee with you. He saw the large and the small things in life. He took each day as a challenge to better himself. He was a guy with big dreams! A guy who wanted to explore the world.
Tan did not have much in life albeit, he didn’t need much. He had a dream and rather than staying in bed and dreaming about it, he woke up and chased it. His car and whatever he could fit in it was all he needed. You can tell a lot about a person by looking at the things that made them happy.
December 30, 1981 – February 10, 2014
Mieng, it was an honour and a pleasure to have such a great friend.
Life as I know it, will not be the same without you.
I am going to miss our talks over coffee.
I am glad that you were able to make the journey out west.
I will take you with me on every adventure that I go on.
May your travels beyond take you to many undiscovered countries.
Rest in peace.