Cancer and Career

At Van’s Cafe Ho Chi Minh City, if you stayed til the end of their second set of music, you would no longer hear Truc Vy doing her closing songs. She performed her set last week for the last time. Despite her late-stage throat cancer, she gave her best with composure and courage. I did not know that at the time. Just noticed how much of that vocal grace could come out from so little of a body. Now I understood.

Cancer-causing death also took  my friend, an accomplished pianist, two years ago.

And last week, it started to put down the name of its next victim.

There is a new singer in that slot now at Van’s Unforgettable.

The show must go on, like life itself.

But how many would pause to remember  someone, frail and fragile, now under traditional treatment in the country side.

They say when someone sings, he/she opens up his/her soul to you.

Like at the Voice final last night. 4 finalists. Only one winner. But we saw four raw souls on display.

To the watching eyes of million.

Truc Vy perhaps won’t go down as a late great Rock singer in the Hall of Fame.

But her dignity and demonstration of the human spirit actually propels her to the top, however short a time.

In her end, her beginning.

Diva she is not.

But Death is not her enemy either. She seems to embrace it like a part of life, in this case, quite fleeting.

It lends new meaning  to each day, each note, and each number she performs.

Now I know where that inner strength was from. From her months of wrestling with the invisible enemy within her.

Like my friend before her who smiled more than I did when we  met for the last time.

And who gave me more advice and care than I could him.

Why does it take that much for someone to wake up, to be more humanized and appreciative of life!

For me, I notice someone’s absence more than their presence. Call it delay reaction.

But in looking back to my now deceased parents, whose DNA definitely stay on in me,  I learn one thing: their time with me when their lives and mine intersected, was a gift. I opened that gift and used it. It’s a one-time thing. Unrepeatable and fully appreciated only by looking back. “Your children live through you”, like a line in the last stanza of Paul Anka‘s Papa.

Life is such a trip that no one seems to get out alive. But while at it, we make the best of that gift, including the gift of music. In Truc Vy’s case, it’s her performance on stage, with voice riding over the loud instruments and clatter of toasting, to reign supreme in a class of its own. No, Truc Vy wasn’t a participant nor winner of the Voice last night. She was perhaps at home, in the countryside, viewing it  on live TV. But at Van’s Cafe, she will always be missed, especially when it’s time for the last set.

A set is not a set without Truc Vy. Please come back to me….in Casablanca or at the Cafe.



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