Thursday, August 10, 2006

16 glorious years ...

Late last night (9th August 2006), I received news that a brave young man Jonathan Gan aged 16, had passed away after battling cancerous brain tumours.

My husand and I went immediately to his home, and once we were there, I just sat in silence. Words failed me. I just could not speak. His parents are my dearest friends, Peter and Agnes, and I cannot imagine what they must be going through.

As for me, I had memories flooding my head. A series of flashbacks...

The first was this one where I carried Jon for the first time. He was probably 3 or 4 then. Peter brought him to a shampoo commercial shoot at RK Studios. Jon true to his nature, was brave enough to leave his dad behind and go exploring on his own. I saw him wandering amongst the heavy lights of our set, and calledout to him. To my sweet surprise, he let me carry him! Now, if you know me well, you'll know that I'm not the sort who go googoogaga over kids. Well, apart from my own nephews and neices, Jon was the first child who let me carry him. And he was quite happy to be carried - that melted my heart straight away.

The next vivid memory was at Agnes' father's funeral. I arrived just as the service was about to begin - and Jon came straight up to me, hugged me and cried his heart out. He was only about chest high then, and he had only recently embraced the Methodist faith. Again my heart melted - to think that I could be his shoulder to cry on : what an honour. After that I always felt a special closeness to this child, even though I wasn't closely involved in his life.

I would hear his proud father extol the virtues and exploits of son No. 1 : how he went to football camp, how he got in to Victoria Institute, how being a scout had brought out the man in him.

Next I remember Jon from a year ago - yes, I think it was in July or August last year. He attended our Teenagers Short Film Workshop. He was vivacious! Cheeky! Creative! Wittier that both his Mom and Dad combined! Such a rascal, and yet so much potential was already being manifested. Here's Jon and Yue Mei at the workshop.

Then I remember the shock of his tumour being diagnosed, and how he faced it. He was the one who broke the news to his younger brother and sister. He was the one who shared his experiences with his friends openly and with much courage.

I remember Yue Mei from his Short Film Workshop telling me how amazed she was at the way he spoke about his ailment, about accepting it, and about having faith. She said she never thought someone so young could see beyond his predicament to find wisdom.

Then the next flashback : I brought mom to see Jon. Mom was hobbling along using a walking stick - so was Jon. As Mom slowly limped up their driveway, Jon came limping down and greeted her. Simultaneously, they asked each other "How are you?" and then burst out laughing.

Next I remember Jon in hospital, and then at home. I last saw him about 2 weeks ago. He had grown so tall! Taller than his father, I think. And home is where Jon spent his time loving and being loved. Until last night.

As Peter used to say, Jon is away fighting dragons. Everytime he chops off one dragon's head, another pops up to attack him.
But he is still fighting. And when he is done, he will come home.

Well, now his fight is over. He has slayed all his dragons. And this brave warrior is free to go home. Home to God. Free and at peace.

Jon, you have given me 16 glorious years. I will miss you. I wish I could have seen you grow up, and achieve all your dreams. But as I look at you now, lying at rest in your scouts' uniform - and hear your father tell me over and over "Jon is so much more of a man than I'll ever be" - I realise that maybe you have already grown up and achieved your dreams, in your own way.

It takes most people 60, 70, 80 years or more to fully grow up. It takes some people 20, 30 years of building a career to gain respect and recognition. It takes most of us a lifetime to learn to love unconditionally, and to live fully. Jon, you did all this in just 16 years.

Goodbye Jonathan Gan. I love you, and I always will.

My brother Mike sent this message :
“Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep
I am the thousand winds that blow
I am the diamonds glints on snow
I am the sunlight on ripened grain
I am the gentle Autumn rain
When you awaken in the morning, Hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds' encircled flight
I am the soft stars that shine at night
Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there. I did not die.”
~ Author Unknown ~

From my brother Ken and Wati :
“Our deepest sympathy and condolences for your loss.”

From Sarah Chen, seen in this photo with Jon :
“Thank you for introducing me to such a great soul. Truly one with so much love. He made an impact on all with his simple presence.”

From my cousin David Cheah :
“My condolences and wish you all strength, hope and comfort in this difficult time. May Jon find peace and may you all cherish the beautiful memories of your time together.”

From Jennifer Guan, YAC :
“My condolences and love to Uncle Gan and family”

If you'd like to read more about this amazing young man, click on the title of this entry.


Blogger bala said...

dear jon, rest in peace.
Hope u hav a happy life thr...

1:52 PM  
Blogger Daniel Ang said...

Jonathan stayed tough, so will you...

2:12 AM  
Blogger Peter Gan said...

my fearless knight. my hero. You have filled the unforgiving minute with more than sixty seconds' worth of distance run. You are a man my son.

12:22 PM  
Anonymous nutty said...

i'm not gonna cry. i'm not gonna cry. i'm not gonna cry. i'm not gonna cry. i'm not gonna cry. i'm not gonna cry.


i.. i'm glad i got to meet him. even if it was only during the workshop. he had so much potential, and the warmth that made everyone around him feel comfortable, and the charisma that made him a natural leader. superstar, that one. i'm glad i got to tell him that.

i'll always remember him as the cheeky boy in the red shirt.

i'm not gonna cry. i'm not gonna cry. i'm not gonna cry.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous yue said...

although i wasn't really close to him and only met him once at a short film workshop, he has definitely left quite an impression in my life. he was the kind of person that would light up a room, literally. he was so full of life and you'd be surprised that he was only 16 for he had the mannerism of a gentleman and was real smooth with words.

*jon, you have inspired me with your strength, courage and ever so positive approach in life and i'm thankful for our meeting. may you rest in peace in the arms of The Lord*

*you will always be remembered for the love and joy you have showered in all of our lives=)

12:17 PM  
Blogger jue said...

eventhough i don't know the owner of this blog personally, i did know jon. someone that would truly be missed and never forgotten. touched our lives in so many different ways, big and small. and although he's not here physically, i know he's somewhere guiding us through all of this.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Tim Fernandez said...

“The most worth-while thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others.” - Sir Robert Baden Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts

I only knew dear Jon for a very brief period of time, but in as little as such a period of time he has left footprints in my life.I've had a chance(though a brief period) to witness and feel the courage he put up in this journey.I believe he fulfilled his life purpose in contribution to each and everyone of us who were blessed enough to be part of his life story...and it is amazing..

reading all that was written about this soul,i believe he lived and died a true the late Baden Powell said in his last message to the scouts of the world- "the real way to get happiness is by giving out happiness to other people. Try and leave this world a little better than you found it and when your turn comes to die, you can die happy in feeling that at any rate you have not wasted your time but have done your best."

from one scout to another,thank you for allowing me to be part of your life story, and may the good Lord bless you Jon...


4:21 PM  

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