Monday, March 15, 2010

"Catch you on the flipside"

I'd like the memory of me / to be a happy one.
I'd like to leave an afterglow / of smiles whien life is done ....
I'd like the tears of those who / grieve to dry before the sun / of happy memories that I leave / when life is done."
(exerpt from Afterglow by Helen Lowrie Marshall)

I went to a small elementary school (K to grade 6). There were about 22-25 kids in each grade. I can name most if not all my classmates off the top of my head, including the one person who was after me alphabetically: Bianca Tong. Bianca and I continued to go to school together in middle school and high school. While we were not close friends, we were friends, and we had many classes and extracurricular activities together over the years (skating lessons, concert band, music class, arts council, plays, and so on).

Bianca played and taught piano (completing the highest level in the Royal Conservatory), played flute with the local youth orchestra as well as my high school concert band, tutored younger students, and volunteered with a local youth council. All while in her teenage years.

After high school, I kept in touch with Bianca through the internet mostly. While we weren't close, I certainly counted her among my friends and enjoyed hearing from her.

Bianca went to Waterloo to do a prestigious math degree. After trying out a career in business, she decided it wasn't for her. She pursued a masters in biomedical engineering in Australia. As part of her research, she developed a pharmaceutical dilution system that, coincidentally, was presented at an international symposium in the United States the day after she died. In fact, if you google her name (after you scroll through a few on-line tributes and a clinical psychologist), you'll find numerous websites citing her biomedical research and/or thanking her for her tireless work in some great cause for which she was volunteering.

After completing her masters, Bianca started working and volunteering for Engineers Without Borders (in Australia), tutoring students in math and English, fitting low-income amputees with new prosthetics, and volunteering in Cambodia. To read more about what Bianca did with EWB, please click here. It really is incredible.

As you have no doubt guessed from the tone of my writing, Bianca passed away. On February 27th, Bianca died in a car accident. She was 28. Just 28.

Please don't offer me your condolences. I am sad, but I am more worried about her family. Please send her family and closest friends any prayers and/or positive thoughts you can offer.

Here are some other on-line tributes to her:
An article in the local newspaper
A tribute from her cousin, Lisa (who I've never met, but who's vibrant nature and friendly personality reminds me of Bianca)
A tribute from a mutual friend, Steve (who definitely struck me as a kindred spirit of Bianca's)
Local newspaper's obituary
(Picture swiped from facebook of Bianca with a good mutual friend, Jen Choi (left), one of Bianca's pallbearers and who gave one of the two eulogies.)


  1. Very sad story. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Wow what a sad story. Thanks for sharing it with us. Sounds like she was a wonderful woman. I'm going to go check out the tributes to her.