I just ran into my friend's little sister here at the NUS (National University of Singapore) library. This may not sound too coincidental till I tell you that my friend lives in Florida, I went to college with her in the mid-'90s, and I only met her sister once, maybe twice when the kid sister was still in her teens. Now the sister is in her fourth year of undergraduate study, working on her honors thesis, and thinking about teaching after she graduates. How time flashes past us.

The news about my friend is not so good. I know her husband was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago, and now the no-more-a-kid sister tells me that the cancer returned too soon after his operation. The current situation does not bode well.

This encounter has stirred up all my residual guilt again. I was really close to them in college (her then-boyfriend graduated from Northwestern too and was working in Chicago) and they've bailed me out on more than a couple of occasions when I needed the emotional support. Now they have this huge --- thing in their lives and I have no idea how to deal with it. I haven't e-mailed them in ages because I have no idea what to say that wouldn't be silly, trite or insensitive; in fact, the last Xmas card I sent them was all blathering and aimless, and I wish I hadn't sent it. Now [Ed: name deleted] the sister will certainly mention it in her next correspondence with them, so I have to write. I'm glad for the external impulsion, but I still don't know what to say. Do I talk about myself, act normal? Or do I dwell on them? What do you say to someone who is dying? Advice, anyone?

This has been too much about me already.

I'm glad I ran into [Ed: name deleted] the sister and had the guts to approach her. I would have walked away, but when she fell in line behind me at the borrowing queue, I knew it was a sign. --- Yes, signs again. I see them everywhere. And you thought I had a modern soul.


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