Friends and family of late model-actor Godfrey Gao are still coming to terms with his sudden death on Wednesday (Nov 27), but the road to healing isn’t easy.
Former professional basketball player James Mao, one of Gao’s closest friends, wrote on Friday morning that his passing has left him shaken.
“I don’t really know where to begin. I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts for the past two days, but anytime I try to write anything I break down in tears. I wake up sobbing, I’m devastated,” Mao wrote via Facebook and Instagram.
The note comes just hours before Mao and his wife are set to hold their wedding reception, where Gao was meant to be a groomsman.
Recalling their first meeting 15 years back, Mao said he “knew from that day forward we would be good friends, but I never expected you to become my family”.
“I always wanted to be like you. When you wore baggy jeans, I wanted you to take me to buy the same pair. When you listened to Trey Songz and Bobby V who I never heard of, I asked you to make me a mixtape too. When you drove a Nissan Cefiro, I got one soon after that,” he wrote.
In his tribute, Mao said Gao was the “most genuine” person he knew, and that strangers were often shocked that he was so down-to-earth.
“When you first started your career, I was able to take care of you for a few months, and ever since then you’ve been taking care of me,” he wrote in the post accompanied by 13 photos and videos of the duo spending time together.
“Tomorrow’s my big day and you’re not here. I don’t know how this pain is gonna stop, realising I’m not gonna see you again,” he added.
He ended the note with the words: “I’ll miss you forever and I love you bro”.
Many of Gao’s friends expressed their own grief in the comments section of Mao’s emotional post.
TV host Blackie Chen left a string of crying face emojis on the Instagram post, followed by a message encouraging Mao to face the future with courage as a wedded man for the sake of his good pal.
Violinist and TV host Janet Hsieh also commented: “He’s always going to be there with you. Sending you love for your big day tomorrow.”
American actor Ron Yuan told Mao he had been “trying to process it all as well”, but said that Gao would’ve wanted him to focus on his wedding day.
“He would have wanted you to stay strong as (you) begin (your) new journey. Embrace the love that you all shared – not the loss.
“(Godfrey) will always be there in (your) heart and mind so no need to fight it,” Yuan wrote.
On Facebook, Mao’s post garnered over 500 comments and close to 3,000 shares in just 13 hours.
One commenter said the tribute made her “sadder than sad”, while another said: “How does one even begin to grieve for someone you have loved so much. Very sorry for your loss.”
Gao, who made history by becoming the first-ever Asian model for Louis Vuitton, was 35 years old when he collapsed and died while filming a variety show that involved strenuous physical activity. He is rumoured to have worked non-stop for 17 hours and was reportedly sick from the flu at the time.
According to local reports, Gao’s body has been relocated from Ningbo city to Hangzhou for embalming, and is expected to be sent back to Taiwan either on Sunday or Monday.