I am a pack rack, not a hoarder, just a pack rack. I pack things I find “important”, interesting, keepsakes that need to be treasured.
This note was written by Dennis, signed by Dennis and Ahn, and left on top of my keyboard. I found it one day upon returning to my desk. Perhaps, it reflects the frame of mind I was in – I must have been feeling extremely blue for them to slip it – as I do not recall the episode one bit.
We were three unlikely individuals who bonded instantaneously as soon as we were brought together.
Dennis and Ahn were two of the finest human beings I have ever met. They were very polite, respectable and caring individuals. We sat across from each other and made up an interesting trio; Dennis this cute 5’7” ½ blonde Caucasian from West Virginia, Anh 5’4” dark hair from Vietnam and I, from “The South Chicago” another foreigner land.
To make the day less dull and help pass the time, we conjured up creative ways to make it more stimulating. Jokes were the main dish and Dennis was the ringmaster. He used to effervescently make fun of us both, mocking us with no tomorrow as a manner of fact, especially about our accents. Statements that today would perhaps be considered politically incorrect. We did not mind; it was consented and it was Dennis.
We were in our usual goofy selves one day when we noticed that Anh was weirdly quiet; he was extremely guarded, not his normal self. He was robotic and preoccupied. It struck us as worrisome as we tried in vain – while giving him his space – to make him smile but it was in vain. We were oblivious to the motive and could not understand nor grasp the sudden change in his attitude, and yet, we explored anything to trigger his smile but he would not budge. He would not even wince.
You see, Anh had his moments. He would sometimes dive into lala land, into deep thoughts becoming stalled and uncommunicative; so, we thought he was on his “zone” and just wanted to be left alone, needed his space.
We were thrilled and silently clapped when he finally came to himself. The smile returned but it would not be for long. There were storms brooding.
Anh had been absent for a while. We had no idea why but we didn’t take it as him being on vacation. If that were the case, he would have brought it up some point during our many conversations. So, we refused to speculate the worse.
It came as surprise however, a few months later, when it was announced during our staff meeting that Anh was going to be away for a while; permanently they said. He no longer was going to be a part of the team; he was not coming back. He was really, really sick.
The news hit us hard; Dennis and I. We were stunned, confused and surprised to learn that Anh was even sick less again dying of cancer – consequence of Asian Orange dropped in Vietnam. It apparently came as shock to Ahn as well; he had no idea he was even sick. He had not been to the hospital and had not done any tests.
It was not long after the revelation that we mourned our friend. He did not hang that long. He stopped by the office one day, all weak and pail with his boldy head but always sporting his contagious smile. We tied to be goofey one more time, for old time sake, by drawing pictures of ourselves in his head but he would not allowed. It just smiled and raised his arms in protest.
He hugged us and waived goodbye, promising to come back but he never did. He was never seen again at least by us. Just as we learned of his illness, just as we learned of his death. I wonder if he is up there smiling at the fact that I kept this note after so many years. Rest In Peace Ahn.