For some reason this week I found myself thinking about a friend of mine who passed this year. My memories are starting to get hazy and I do not wish for them to be so.
We met in Kerala in 2017 and though our time was brief, I’ll cherish every interaction. Evelyn Ang Loo was just one of the people who was on a bloggers trip to India, we spent 3 weeks traipsing around this glorious country and made lifelong memories. She had a smile that was instantly recognisable and was calm and collected even during the most stressful of times.
The 30 or so of us were a bunch of strangers coming from countries all around the world and I was instantly drawn to Evelyn. We both had Asian heritage (she was from Malaysia) and along with our friends Claire (Philippines), Indra (Indonesia) and Bernard (Singapore) we jokingly called ourselves the “Asian table” during mealtimes. Subconsciously, it seems, looking back on my photos, I just ended up nearly always beside her. More than a friend, she felt like a sister and a mentor.
Eating with your hands is a staple of Indian-dining and in the heat of India, it was Evelyn who taught me how to scoop the food with my fingers to make the most of savouring each moment. She took my hand and formed my fingers into a loose ball-shape, “you just curve and then dip in lah!”. Her “Lah” was a part of her culture which she delightfully explained was like an emphasis in Malay and I remember her broad smile as she said it.
One night in the mountains of Munnar we shared a tent and some more time together. In one way we were opposites, she incredibly athletic and I was simply bumbling along. After dinner, we snuck away from the rest of the group to prepare for the early morning hike. We joked about being ahead of the curve and being able to claim hot showers before our peers and marvelled again at how breath-taking India was. I can hear our laughter and it was a special moment not just of appreciation for the journey but also of our friendship.
During our Indian adventure, Evelyn, an ultra-marathon runner, would often get up before everyone else and run to keep active. When we were in resorts she would be running on the beach or on the road. Even donning a sari at one stage as she ran!
She would take photos of everything on her journey, her running shoes, the food, the people and snapshots of life (who can forget her famous pink hat too?). She was one of the few people whose inspirational quotes didn’t annoy me because I could always see how hard she worked for everything.
When I heard about what happened to Evelyn in December 2017, I was in absolute shock. Hundreds of miles away and with only Facebook to keep updated on the news, as she lay in a coma for months it was so hard to believe that someone as incredibly strong as her could go.
Evelyn was a pillar of strength. The love was pouring on her page. It was so hard to watch, and I could see for everyone, it was very hard to let go. She was bright, energetic, spunky and full of joy. I cannot bring myself to delete her contacts from my phone list yet or let go of the last social media post.
My thoughts are this: Cherish those who you meet on your travels and who leave a lasting impact. Stay in touch and celebrate your memories because your friends can disappear in an instant.
In memory of Evelyn Ang Loo – 13/04/1973 – 01/03/2018
“Everyone will face challenges in life and like runs, the journey is long and stretches are tough, hilly but we always move forward. I remind myself of the perspective of why I run, coz it’s fun and builds friendships. And I thank all who came into my life, the joys, the laughter, the giggles, all those tears of joy upon completing a run (nothing can quite describe that feeling). The finishing line is never the end, but preparation for the next stage. Celebrate little things in life, drink coffee, eat ice cream, run far far, cuddle, give hugs, sleep (sleep enough and rest) keep those good spirits and energy for there will be rewards in time.”