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Mourning and a sense of renewed purpose

Popularity 1Viewed 3307 times 2014-7-30 07:35 |System category:Life| Mourning, and, renewed, purpose

If you have not read it yet, please read this earlier entry first.

August 1, 2014 will mark the one-year anniversary of my brother's death. That was a day that changed my life forever, because my older brother was no longer in this world as of that day in 2013. As the anniversary approaches, I find myself still mourning his death in some ways. It is finally starting to seem real to me that he is truly gone.

I want to do something to strengthen my memory of him, to honour him somehow. I keep in touch with his girl-friend, who is like family to all of us, but I need to find something more.

He never understood my desire to travel to other countries and learn other languages. He never understood what it was like to walk in a foreign city and see how things were the same and how they were so different, or how people are people no matter where they are but yet how cultural differences can make friendships so enriching. I felt sorry for him because he closed himself off to such wonderful experiences.

This December I plan to take my youngest child to China so that finally all of my children will have been to a foreign country. I want my children to know the joys and frustrations of trying to communicate in a foreign language and trying to live in a foreign land, even if it is only for a short period of time. I want them to understand that "different" does not automatically mean "bad" or "good", but that it is simply different. My brother thought that "foreign" was somehow "not good enough" (except when it came to cars and motorcycles, for some strange reason).

My brother always admired my academic abilities, and in light of that and in light of the anniversary of his death I have a renewed sense of purpose to study Chinese and pass the HSK. In some ways, it is to carry on our disagreement. In some ways it is to continue doing the things that made him proud of his younger brother. Tom did not agree with my love for China, but he respected my right to make my own decisions about such things. We had a healthy respect for each other even when we disagreed about things.

My brother also taught me to ride a motor-cycle and how to drive a car with a manual transmission. I hope to pass both of those skills on to my children and tell them of how Tom taught me those things.

I think that the best legacy that you can receive from the passing of a relative is to continue to be the person that he or she loved and respected. Focus on those things instead of miring yourself in sorrow and self-pity. Honour their memories by being the best YOU that you can be. Be yourself, because that is the person that your departed family member loved.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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Ph.D. in Computer Science (Security) and also a physician, I travel to China on business a few times each year. I am learning Mandarin (and some Cantonese because I travel to HK and GZ) and intend to take the HSK in 2015 (before I turn 50).


Recent comments

  • Just a short note 2014-5-10 10:24

    Vocabulary seems to be the hardest thing to learn. Chinese grammar is logical, but learning vocabulary (especially to read) is a challenge when I have few opportunities to speak the language. I really wish I could live in China for a while.

  • Just a short note 2014-4-2 12:16

    good luck to you.

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