Friday, May 31, 2013



I had known Pensri for ages. We graduated from the same alma mater in Bangkok but from different faculties and different years. She was 5 years my senior. We worked at the same big organisation and were very close back in the 90’s. She was like my big sister and taught me a lot about work and sometimes lives.

Pensri breathed work – she was a perfectionist and very often was the real engine behind the scene that drove many projects to their successes. It was hurtful to see her hard work often go unnoticed and that she did not get promoted in timely manner as she deserved.

As busy as she was, she was a fantastic mother and a great cook. Her two daughters have grown up, graduated and are running successful lives. Many, many years a go when I was stationed in Holland, she took an excursion from her assignment in Germany to see me with a luggage full of my favourite food that she cooked for me herself (and she carried the food from Bangkok to Frankfurt then to me in Rotterdam!).

When Bob and I were about to move to New Zealand she hosted a farewell lunch for us at the restaurant by the Chao Praya River. She handed Bob a piece of paper containing the above note in her hand writing.

She was stationed in one of the offices in the US in 2005. We did not contact each other regularly but a few Christmas and Birthday cards plus several emails over the years (she admitted she still preferred sending fax in 2010) She was a workaholic and had a habit of not writing when she was engrossed with work (as we also do).

She moved to Chiang Mai office in 2010 and had her first bout with cancer the following year. The last time I saw her was in September 2011 in Bangkok – she had just undergone chemotherapy but was still very active and working hard as usual. She had accompanied a group of journalists from Chiang Mai to Bangkok HQ. So we met up in town for lunch. Her office car had to go somewhere with the group so my other best friend (who kindly drove me around while I was in Thailand) dropped her off at her hotel. I had very limited time in Bangkok so I did not have a chance to see her again during that trip. The last picture of her that I remember is this fragile lady (albeit strong on the inside) with a brave smile waving goodbye to us from the hotel entrance.

She moved back to Bangkok HQ at the end of 2011 and had undergone an operation for the cancer had come back in 2012.  I had an impression that it went well and she eventually got a long awaited promotion at work. Everything seemed good. 

For the past few months she had gone very quiet with no updates on her Facebook but I didn’t think anything negative as I thought she might be busy with work. I visited her page again on Monday to check on her (like I did every month or so). One of her friends in Bangkok posted the schedule for her funeral and that post was two weeks old. That was how I learned of her passing - she passed away on 12 May 2013. I was numb for hours.

I emailed her best friend and was told the cancer had spread to her back and she could hardly walk in April. She was admitted into the hospital the day before she quietly and peacefully went asleep forever.

That’s another lesson I learn – don’t take friendship for granted. I should have nurtured and spent more time on our friendship. She was a phone call away and our phone here is VOIP – no excuse. And now it was too late.

I trawled our old email messages and re-read and laughed and cried.

Dear sis – sorry for not being there. There is no pain in heaven and you can rest in peace.

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