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Taboo subjects

I have been struggling with mortality for a while. My sister-in-law passed away at the age of 41. My friend Zirui passed away a year ago today at the age of 36. They fought their fights. Their lives were cut short because of cancers. They were healthy before being diagnosed. Neither had bad habits. And there was no family history of cancer either.

I still remember those two weddings. My brother and sister-in-law had the first world-class wedding that I have attended to. It was live casted in 2009 so families and friends across the globe could celebrate together. In my speech, I jokingly claimed to be their matchmaker. My friend Zirui had the most exquisite wedding that I have attended to. Everything was perfect, definitely not because I was the wedding presider. That was less than 4 years ago.

Now they are gone. Just like that, fond memories turned grey. Let alone sad memories such as cancers and treatments. Their tragedies made me question my own mortality. I’m older than them, being healthy and so on. When is my turn? I hope I’m not like the youngsters in a classic Chinese poem: “少年不识愁滋味, 爱上层楼. 爱上层楼, 为赋新词强说愁”. (Teens haven’t tasted sorrow yet they fantasize about it in poems.) I asked myself many questions. Why, why, why?!

First, it’s not about reminiscent of those memories, fond or sad. It’s about my brother, my nephew and my niece. It’s about the parents of my sister-in-law. It’s about my friend’s wife. It’s about her parents and my friend’s parents.

It’s about how survivors survive, without their loved ones. For example, this week the mother of my sister-in-law had leg injury. My brother has been hard-pressed with double duties between the emergency rooms and the kid schools.

Second, it’s not about being healthy, good habits and family trees. It’s about why so young my sister-in-law (41) and my friend (36) passed away. It’s about why the cancers were at stage 3 already when first diagnosed. It’s about why my friend didn’t tell me about his cancer earlier. It’s about why I even felt compelled to clarify that they were healthy and so on.

Why cancer is still a taboo? Cancer might happen to anyone at any age. Hopefully recognizing that will usher in early detections.

Third, it’s not about being strong like the Olympians. It’s about why my brother muffled his cries behind closed doors. It’s about why my friend’s wife grieving in private only. It’s about why I couldn’t write about the tragedies for a year.

Why mental health is an even bigger taboo? It’s time to advocate mental health like Simone Biles, Chloe Kim and Michael Phelps.

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One response to “Taboo subjects”

  1. […] this blog has the same content as the original one, Taboo subjects. I’m translating it to Chinese […]

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