I met Bernie in the fall of 1994, my freshman year at MIT. Right at our very first meeting, he tried to convince me to choose his major– course 15 (Management Science).
Bernie made fun of me for being in a sorority. Then he tried to sing our songs, with his own made-up words.
Bernie always stole stuffed animals from my room. When I demanded them back, he would always tell me they liked him more.
During the first summer I spent at MIT (1996), B and I would have these long, random conversations that would last until 5 in the morning. I never got bored.
I still remember how ecstatic he was when I first started going to KCF meetings and attending St. John’s.
Bernie received a charcoal gray (actually, lilac) Ford explorer for graduation. He really wanted a minivan.
During my years as an IVCF staff worker, Bernie would always pick me up from my meetings on campus. ALWAYS. Good friend? Or stalker…?
We had to “define the relationship” three times.
For our first real date, he took me to my then favorite Boston restaurant, Grill 23 & Bar. But I really wanted to go to McDonald’s ’cause I was craving a Big Mac.
He also took me rowing on the Charles. He couldn’t row us past the BU Bridge because of the crazy current.
He sent many flowers to my work place and scored big points with my coworkers.
Once I jokingly called Bernie a ball-hog. He didn’t speak to me for days.
Bernie was a huge Oakland A’s fan. I am a huge Yankees fan. He accused us of using them as their farm system. It was a big point of contention in our relationship. At least we both rooted for the SF 49ers. Thank goodness for them.
Bernie was diagnosed with Behcet’s disease in 2001, one year after we started dating. I decided then that I wanted to be the one to take care of him for the rest of his life.
People always commented on how B and I never fought. Well we did. I always did most of the yelling. Good times…
Our engagement took place at CCFC on October 10, 2003… at night. SO SCARY. (For those of you who don’t know, 10 is Bernie’s favorite number.)
Bernie planned more of our wedding than I did. I still have the Excel spreadsheets.
I started noticing B’s short-term memory loss, aphasia, and mood swings six months before our wedding. MRIs showed neurological involvement in Behcet’s.
Two weeks before our wedding, Bernie was hospitalized for an infection from a spinal tap. Our wedding caterer across the street from the hospital sent him chicken fingers and french fries so that he wouldn’t have to eat hospital food.
B was completely symptom-free on our wedding day, July 10, 2004.
After Pastor Soong-Chan pronounced us as husband and wife, he introduced us as “Mr. and Mrs. BONNIE Chang.” Hehehe.
On our honeymoon, we skipped lunch every day and had hawaiian shave ice instead.
Neither of us being Red Sox fans, we boycotted the 2004 World Series by playing games on his PS2.
Bernie wanted to name our first child Jehosephat, and call him Phat for short.
He also wanted five kids so that he could form his own basketball team. I guess that was better than if he was a huge fan of football.
Bernie’s first series of seizures happened during the Red Sox championship parade, near Mass General. It took the ambulance forever to get across the street.
We closed on our house on December 10, 2004. Again with the “10″…!
Bernie wanted to buy the biggest dining room table out there so that we could host many dinners in our new home.
Bernie was hospitalized on April 14, 2005 after falling at home.
Every time I visited B at the hospital, I made sure not to cry in front of him. I managed to keep that up until he lost consciousness.
Bernie bounced around MGH and Spaulding Rehab for over a year, and finally ended up at Youville Hospital, where he spent the last year of his life. Even after spending countless hours with B at these hospitals, today I still wish that I had spent more time caring for him.
Bernie died at 8:32pm on June 27, 2007… incidentally my birthday. I am trying to see this as Bernie’s gift to me – his way of releasing me. Still working on it…
Miss you B. Will love you always.
(photo courtesy of Jae Kim)