In 1986, when I first started travelling to China, I met a man named Huang He (pronounced Huang Her) in Qingdao. Huang He’s name is translated “Yellow River,” named after one of China’s most famous bodies of water.

As the years progressed we became great friends, to the point where he had me over to his house one night for dinner. This is big because Chinese businesspersons don’t normally socialize with Westerners personally. Huang He allowed me the honor of providing English names for his wife and daughter, and he started calling me “germer,” which, he said, is Chinese for “blood brother.”

Everything was going fine until Huang He contacted cancer around 1995. Not long after this, he died and I lost a friend I dearly miss. Life is so precious, and we never know how much time we have – or how much time we will have with our loved ones.

This post is for you, germer.