The Loved Ones Live On


Losing a loved one is one of the hardest things we human beings can ever experience. The kind of pain you feel inside is a different kind of pain, a silent ache you’ve never felt before. The agony you feel is a deep, wrenching thrust of a heartache.  The emotional enormity is intense and yet overall, unexplainable. You feel so profoundly wounded that absolutely nothing anyone can say or do that can make it go away. I mean, they’re gone… What in this world could ever bring them back to life again? Nothing. Right?

Or at least that’s what we tend to think.

Lyna, as you all know, fought for four years of her life with leukemia. As optimistic as she was that she could beat the cancer, she knew very well that her time was coming to an end and that it would soon take her away. She used to be afraid… very afraid. But she grew an immense amount of courage when she realized God has everything mapped out for her.

We always stayed up late at night with the deepest talks about life. At the young age we were, you wouldn’t even imagine the kinds of talks we immersed ourselves in.  Asking each other questions, thinking deeply, wondering in curiosities about the world, and “ooh, what if this and what if that?”

One night after I drove down from New York to be by her side, she told me,

“Sandy…? I’m getting really tired… I don’t feel like I can make it much longer…”

I then heard her smile as she continued speaking in her soft, misty voice.

“But I’m not afraid of death anymore. You know… God has a place for everyone and I think everything really does happen for a reason. If it wasn’t for this, my family would have never been so close together. ”

Annd here I come… raising my optimistic voice, always reassurring her that she’s once again wrong like I did the many times, throughout the many moments before.

” Haha, no, you’ll be fine. You’re not as tired as you think you are. You already know you’re stronger than that Lyna. The doctors told you you wouldn’t make it past a year and look where we are now, 3 years later!! ” The docs called me her angel because they’d tell her she’d have a week left but every time I came down  to see her, she far surpassed weeks, months and years.

But this time, it was different. Seeing how skeletal she looked, how weak her voice sounded… inside,

I felt myself lying to me with those words.

I couldn’t admit it.

She continues,

” Hey, I want you to listen to this song whenever you feel like you need me okay?  So just incase if anything you know that no matter what, I’ll always be right there with you, whenever you feel as though you need me. It will feel like I’m right there, because I am.”

And in the dark, a silent tear streamed down my face as she turns on the song for me to listen to.

She planned her own funeral in which she called and demanded a celebration. “Bright colors only”, she wrote. No crying, no sadness, no mourning, just joy and celebration. 

The celebration day came, I gave my speech as everyone laughed and all was joyous face to face but behind the closed door, I was a burdened mess. I allowed the pain that I felt to completely take over her encouraging words.

 And I lived with that for years.

One day I was driving on a little road trip, feeling lost, sad, confused, desolated… melancholy, and of course, although I tried my best to push the thoughts of her away, she was lingering always on my mind. Suddenly ‘Light Up The Sky’ came on the radio, the very song that she had dedicated to me that night. In the spur of the moment this whole overwhelming, enrapturing, new feeling completely took over me.


“When I’m feeling all alone with so far to go

The signs are no where on this road guiding me home

When the night is closing in is falling on my skin….will you come close?

You light, light, light up the sky. You light up the sky to show me that you are with me. And I, I, I can’t deny.

No I can’t deny that you are right here with me. You’ve opened my eyes so I can see you all around me

You light, light, light up the skyYou light up the sky to show me that you are with me.
When stars are hiding in the clouds

I don’t feel them shining

When I can’t see beyond my doubt …the silver lining

When I’ve almost reached the endLike a flood you’re rushing in

Your love is rushing in (your love is rushing in)”


While driving in the midst of the dull, gray sky, it abruptly began to shine at me. A chain of great memories of her rushed through my mind, the ones that I’ve avoided  for so long. I suddenly felt her lively spirit all around me. And finally, I came to this realization:

You see grief is a universal experience. No matter what language we speak or what background we come from, we all know what it feels like to grieve. We all know the hidden pains of losing someone whom we hold truly and dearly in our hearts. But what we should remember is that our loved ones are never truly gone. They may not physically be here but they’re watching over us everyday. From every inch we move to every corner we turn. Their only wish is that we celebrate their life not grieve over them. Only when that song came on at that moment did I understand what she was trying to tell me all along.

It never feels like she’s gone anymore. It’s the most comforting feeling to know that every time I miss her, all I have to do is click play, stare the beautiful sky whether rain or shine and she’s right there with me.

And with that, every beautiful, waking morning of my “24” hours, the sky lights up. 

I know she’s always with me.

In Love and in Light,

Sandy Vo

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