Dada, the Hard Call and Saying Goodbye

18 Jul
Dada and Dadai at our Wedding

Dada and Dadai at our wedding (Photo by Sakura Photography)

When we planned our move abroad we prepared for new experiences. Since then, we’ve learned to adapt to the excitement and frustration that accompanies every day in China. But we could never predict just how challenging things would get.

As some of you may know, Ami’s grandfather passed away in June. The nine days leading up to his death were the most difficult days we have experienced in China.


When Ami and I began dating I found myself being quickly integrated into the Sanyal clan. That’s when I first met Dada—and for eight years he never stopped amazing me with his love and acceptance.

It’s a crazy feeling to have a man adopt you as a grandchild. My fondest memories were after our wedding—when he would kiss my hand and say, “hello Bride”—constantly blessing Ami’s marriage to me with this simple greeting.

Dada whispering “hello Bride” to me for the first time after our wedding ceremony. He never stopped greeting me this way (photo by Sakura Photography)

The Hard Call

When Ami and I learned Dada was in the hospital with bilateral lobe pneumonia, we had to make a decision: should we stay in Shanghai or fly to Vancouver in case he didn’t recover?

To say this was a hard call is an understatement, but in the end we knew it wouldn’t be possible to go home. I am thankful we made this decision early, as it helped cut guilt out of the avalanche of emotions that came in the following days.

Saying Goodbye

The medication wasn’t working and his status had changed to palliative. Our family arranged for us to call the following day to say our farewells, but some time after midnight in Shanghai I had a strong feeling that we shouldn’t wait.

We go through life knowing that, one day, we will say goodbye to each other—but does anyone really prepare for that discussion? It was hard to think of what to say as the phone was held to his ear.

Then we realized that our message to Dada was actually so simple: ‘I love you’ repeated over and over again. Within one hour of our call he passed away.

A few photos from Dada’s life

Where Do We Go from Here?

It’s not easy knowing that Dada is gone. In the days after he passed, loving memories would come in waves—equal parts pain and joy. But, since his passing, feelings of acceptance and peace have slowly overpowered other emotions.

I wish I could have been at Dada’s side in his last moments—but I have also begun to see how he is closer now than ever before. Whether in Shanghai or Vancouver, he is only a quick prayer away.

I love you Dada and you are often in my thoughts. God Bless you!

Hé zhǎng,


Visit Dada’s memorial page for more messages from family and friends. Then take a moment to tell a loved one what they mean to you.


8 Responses to “Dada, the Hard Call and Saying Goodbye”

  1. Nat July 18, 2012 at 2:08 am #

    One of the hardest parts for me during that time was knowing how hard it was for you two. Beautiful post, Cec.

  2. Tara July 18, 2012 at 4:15 am #

    Cec, this was such a beautiful and sad post that it caused me to tear up. Love, prayers and support to you and Ami.

  3. Tish Oliver July 18, 2012 at 3:36 pm #

    Beautifully written, our loved ones are with us,
    in all and everything we do. How lucky you were to have had such wonderful times together.
    Love to you both.
    RIP Dada

  4. Beth McTaggart July 19, 2012 at 2:44 am #

    Cecily, this is beautiful. Simple, poignant and full of love. What a wonderful person Dada must have been. As an outsider to your experience, I can nonetheless see and feel the love and affection between you both. And that’s a testament to the openness of both of your hearts and souls.

    I’m so sorry that you no longer have his tangible presence in your life, but know that your obviously precious memories will sustain you and Ami.

    • cecilysanyal July 19, 2012 at 10:16 pm #

      Beth, thank you for taking the time and speaking from your heart 🙂

  5. Kari K. July 19, 2012 at 11:46 pm #

    This is an incredible post Cec. Your words are very touching and your pictures with Dada are beautiful, what a wonderful wedding day. We are def here for yall – just around the corner in fact – whenever you need us. xxxx

    • cecilysanyal July 20, 2012 at 9:50 am #

      Thanks Kari–you and Luke are the best friends and neighbours in China we could have asked for! Yongyuan de pengyou!

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