Love Letter to Evaline Cheng

Greetings to all on this fine Thursday afternoon!

In the past, you’ve seen me write love letters to people who have inspired and motivated me. I learned recently that my approach has been problematic due to playing into celebrity worship.

My close friend sent me an article from Wear Your Voice Magazine titled, “Kill Your Idols Before Empty Platitudes And Capitalism Kill You” by Adrie Rose discussing how capitalism supports celebrity worship and how it exacerbates inequality, inequity, and injustice. 

The point is, I want to shift my focus from praising celebs like Lilly Singh and Tia Mowry, and direct your attention (and mine) to everyday heroes instead.

One personal hero of mine is near and dear to my heart, my great friend, Dr. Evaline Cheng.

pic snapped by me

Evaline works as a physician who, like many others, was thrust amidst the throes of COVID-19’s raging destruction in one of the United States’ most heavily hit metropolitan areas: Los Angeles, California. 

Evaline showed up day in and day out, treating sick patients on the line of duty for up to 12 to 24 hours in a row. An insane number of hours for anyone to deal with under tremendous pressure.

Using her skills, training, and expertise, Evaline managed full floors of high-risk patients and executed responsibilities that most of us could not handle; all the while, carrying the grief of losing her father. 

Please read her essay titled, “Rethinking End-of-Life Care After Watching My Father Die.” 

That said, E, this one’s for you! 

~~~

Dear Evaline, 

Or shall I say Dr. Evaline Cheng!?! 

Memories of life with you are now from a distant, faraway time: 

Bursting into a fit of laughter at Union Station, overcome with delight and surprise from bumping into each other after a long commute home from work. 

Ascending the escalator from the depths of the metro when suddenly someone yelled, “DAAAAAMN.”

Waiting in line for a full hour at the Belgian Embassy only to receive ketchup and a handful of fries. 

Struggling on a wobbly bike ride to and from the National Arboretum followed by an iconic photoshoot. 

Capturing poses at the Tidal Basin to admire the cherry blossoms after work.

Sitting on the steps of the Supreme Court at sunset, eating the worst possible food in the city – pink dyed thin rice noodles and flat wide rice noodles caked in oil – lamenting how the city was at once too big for you and too small for me, amused by our opposing perspectives. 

Rationing bananas that almost tore us apart in the struggle to find Memorial Day camping grounds in Shenandoah National Park only to emerge victorious, exhausted, and closer. 

Determined to achieve our dreams, we chipped away at our respective goals with every focused and fun-filled day. Bearing witness to each other’s daily grind while sharing precious moments of joy, repose, and sisterhood. This is the foundation of our friendship. 

I learn so much from you.

I admired watching you bring weekend activities to life for our group of friends thanks to your adventurous spirit. You are fearless and fierce as shown when you clapped back at men who dared to catcall us after dark. 

I watched as you tapped into your resourceful, perceptive, and independent nature when you navigated South America and Western Europe on your own. 

Our shared values and interests trump the distance between us, like our commitment to self-awareness and life-long learning, our exploration of identity in Asian America. 

I treasure the companionship I find with you. I know it’s rare. 

Thank you for teaching me how to be a less judgmental, more empathetic listener. I wish for every soul to meet another who feels as safe and free as I do when I hang with you.

I live a fuller life with you in it, and I am humbled by and thankful for that. We are friendship goals like Gayle and Oprah, and I’ll do my part to pour love into us because I know we’re both worth it.

You’re a legend. 

Love you,
Melissa

If you liked this letter and want to clap for Evaline, please show her some love by giving back to the National Park Foundation in honor of her love and enjoyment for parks, hiking, and nature.

Thanks for reading! 

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