Kwing’s sharing in Evangeline’s funeral (2009/11/28)


Good afternoon. I am sure that Evangeline is very glad to see you all here. The 3 hymns we are singing today were all selected by her specifically for her funeral. She selected the hymns to make sure that the centre of today’s service is to give glory to God. The remembrance of her is just a means to that end.


Let me share with you a secret that even my children do not know. I call Evangeline “rainbow in my life” since we started dating 40 years ago. The first rainbow that appeared to Noah marked the ending of the flood, the ending of turbulence. For me, the appearance of Evangeline marked the ending of my turbulent youth. So I called her my rainbow and Evangeline always enjoyed this name.


I still remember the first time I saw her at the university. I was sitting in the chapel before the choir practice. She was a tall and incomparably pretty girl, vibrant, always smiling and laughing, but could occasionally be very intense, slightly too intense. She liked to talk and was always optimistic. Her performance on the piano was always with deep conviction and fire. So I was immediately impressed by her although we did not start dating until I graduated two years later.


We dated almost 4 years before getting married. Evangeline was a supremely able person so I got spoiled, not knowing how to cook or how to sew. I am not a passionate person while Evangeline was a highly passionate person so she complained many many times that I was not romantic enough.


Of course, there were at times arguments in our marriage. This is unavoidable when two strong-willed persons live together, as many of you know how strong-willed we both are. But after arguments, it was always Evangeline who found the optimism to forgive and forget.


A few years ago, Evangeline spoke a few times about how blessed we were and how everything in our lives seemed so good. She was afraid that one day she would wake up and encounter difficulties.


In May last year, Evangeline’s trouble started immediately after she came back from a trip in Europe with our son Stephen. We were in and out of hospitals and clinics. In a period of 10 days, we saw more than 10 medical specialists. Eventually, Evangeline was diagnosed with a rare kind of cancer of the lymph that could not be healed. Most patients with this disease would die within three years. Then her medical treatments started—chemotherapy, radiation therapy, brain surgery, even stem cell transplant. In the last 18 months, Evangeline had stayed in the hospital for 12 different periods, totalling more than 150 days, plus many hospital visits. Of course, I was with her most of those days.


Five days ago, on Nov 23, I was with her for 6 hours but she was sleeping most of the time. After she woke up, we talked. Her voice was very weak. She had trouble swallowing food and medicine, probably a side effect of the radiation. At around 9 pm, I prayed for her and left. Shortly after I returned home, I was called by the hospital. When I arrived, the nurse told me that Evangeline was found dead when they did the last routine check-up. Evangeline clearly passed away peacefully in her sleep as the other patient in her room was still conversing quietly with a friend next to her bed when I walked into her room. They did not hear anything abnormal before the nurse came. I had prepared myself for such a moment but it was still a big big shock like a rock falling on my head.


For me, the last 18 months have been like a dream, a long long dream. I did not notice the change of seasons. I missed almost all my breakfasts. I would not feel hungry even if I missed both breakfast and lunch. I dreamed every night without exception. It has been very stressful. Every time I went to the hospital, I felt dread and fear. It has been extremely difficult but we were supported by prayers of countless people in many cities. I could not have survived without all your prayers. Now that the dream is almost over, I will finally wake up but the rainbow in my life has disappeared.


Yet, it was not totally a bad dream. As some of you who have been receiving my emails will know, we had happier times together than before she got this illness. We had more time to talk and enjoy each other’s company. We would recall all the happy times in our lives, remembering funny incidents and laughing together. We recounted how blessed we had been for our children, our son-in-law, and our ever joyful granddaughter. We would conclude by thanking God for all these wonderful blessings.


In September when Evangeline was receiving radiation, we were in a section of the hospital where many patients were close to death. When Evangeline moved into that room, there was an old man staying next door. He would turn on the TV to its loudest volume the whole day long, even while his eyes were closed. We concluded that he was trying to use loud noises to drown out any thoughts about his impending death. A week later, an Afghan old woman moved in. She had a couple of daughters with her all the time but she would cry and moan almost every hour. Her cries expressed despair and the loss of hope. According to Evangeline, she started crying everyday from exactly 6 am and would wake Evangeline up. Because the pain medication is so advanced today, Evangeline was almost sure that her cries were not for pain but for her fear of death. While these were going on, we were talking joyfully, sometimes even laughing aloud. We could see clearly how different it is when we had the assurance of eternal life, compared to someone who had not.


Evangeline told me many times that she was NOT afraid of death because she said that death is just a bridge which leads to a better life that is waiting for us. But she also wanted to live longer. However, we always knew that God’s plan may not be the same as what we would want.


I remember the last time I drove her to the hospital. I had a feeling that this was the last of such trips, so my eyes were filled with tears while I was driving on the Queensway. Then I remembered something I witnessed over 40 years ago. I was on a street in Hong Kong near the terminal for those big oceanliners. There were thousands of people lining the street. Those ones wearing formal pretty clothes were the passengers of the oceanliner and around them were their relatives and friends. Many of the passengers were students who were going to the United States to study. At that time, most travel across the Pacific was by sea, not by air. So these students once gone might not come back for two years or more. The separation would be a long one and many of them were crying. But they also knew that the trip was for a good purpose and that they would meet again.


That day while I was driving, I was imagining that we were like those people. I was driving the car to the ocean terminal, sending Evangeline on a long trip. The trip was for a good and happy purpose, that is, to travel to an eternally joyful place that God prepared for us. Also, I might not see her again for many years but it was only a temporary separation. For sure, the separation is very hard on us who are left behind. But we will see each other again in happier times. I would again see that healthy, pretty, vibrant, optimistic, and ever joyful Evangeline. I eagerly look forward to this. So, farewell, my love. Wait for me. See you again.





After the funeral service, some people (including my daughter and son-in-law and a couple of good friends) saw a rainbow appearing in the sky. This phenomenon was quite abnormal on a day with no rain at all. It is perhaps a message from God that “the rainbow in my life” lives on, not in this world but in heaven. An hour later, the evening glow was very extensive, covering half the sky, and was deep red in colour, reminding us that Evangeline is now in glory.