At the beginning of the week, I had resolved to talk about something light, even funny.
After all, I'm a happy and optimistic persons.
But the way things evolved, I will talk about yet another death.
My friend's death.
I got to know Lianne three, maybe four, years ago at a meeting in the US.
Her German-accented American English mesmerized me.
And her wit, intelligence, and gentleness.
They never failed to capture my attention.
Through the years, we moved from colleagues to friends.
We met a couple of times in the US, and in Singapore when she came two years ago to speak at a conference.
Lianne was ten years older than me, and several degrees more qualified.
But she was never afraid to ask for my opinion or admit she knew less of some things in life than I.
Told you she was intelligent.
She was brave too.
When the Berlin Wall came down, she--a single woman--was among the first to go in to reach out to students on the university.
She studied the language. Overcame the odds. Did what God called her to do.
After that trip to Singapore, she was suddenly diagnosed with cancer.
During her darkest hours, she wrote, "I'd conquer this.
"Don't give up."
On January 19 2006, Lianne left her body to be with the Lord Jesus.
She fought till the very end, her brother wrote.
Two days before she passed away, her mum, two sisters and brother held a communion service by her bedside.
As her mum placed a bit of bread in her mouth and touched her lips with wine, her brother said,
"You gave her her first meal and now you are giving her her last.”
Farewell my friend, my dear sweet friend.
And thank you.
For telling me shortly after we met, "You're smart and talented."
That surprised me, coming from you.
For volunteering me for that writing assignment,
even though you and I knew there were smarter and more talented writers available.
For pushing me that time to get on with that project.
And when it was a success, thank you for saying,
"I never once doubted you could do it."
And when we were having our juice in that Shenton Way cafe,
thank you for telling me right in the eye,
"Never give up.
Never stop trying, and becoming whom God wants you to be."
Lianne, my sweet Lianne,
love the ocean - God made it for Himself
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- In the Old Testament in the Bible, there was a man named Jacob who "wrestled with God and man." He wouldn't let God go until God answered his prayers. God admired that and renamed him Israel, "the one who fought or wrestled and prevailed". He fought with man--his inner man--and conquered his own weaknesses. He's my hero. He is what I hope God and man see me to be.