It was there that I met Cindy and her husband Bob. We talked easily and enjoyed each other's company. In November Cindy asked me what I was doing for Christmas, and I told her, "Nothing much." She said, "Well, then come to our place." They were new in China and I had already worked there for a number of years. At the December meeting I asked her whether she was serious, and she confirmed what she had said.
So it was that Christmas 2004, I caught the train out to Gongyi and was met at the railway station. It was a good day being part of a family and friends and sharing the food. That was a friendship that lasted for years. I had to go home from China, and so our friendship continued via Skype. Then I learned that she was in California for medical treatment. After some nine months she was allowed to return to China and all was well, until 12 months ago. She became increasingly weak and was then admitted to hospital, and eventually medi-vaced home to California.
When she was released from hospital, she was oxygen dependent. In May, during one of our chat sessions on Skype, she requested me, no begged me to come to the States, and enticed me even further by inviting me to go on a cruise to Alaska. So, after my own surgery in May, I went to the California end June and all through July. In the end her doctors would not permit her to go on the cruise, so she and her husband stayed home while all other relatives and some friends like myself, went on the cruise. It was a good time, but I missed her so.
I left California on the last day of July, and again our interaction was limited to Skype. I spoke to her just before the New Year, and that night she went back into hospital. Bob actually stayed with her in hospital for the next 12 days, and when he got home he sent me an e.mail to say that Cindy had gone to Heaven on 10th January.
I am sitting here, remembering and rejoicing in the memories we made in July, and devastated that I will not have another opportunity to chat with her.
One of the most important people in my life, gone to heaven before me. I feel the loss.