I was cleaning out my wallet yesterday and found the receipt from your funeral services. Did you know that there’s packages for funeral services. I told the funeral home you wanted to be cremated, so the first thing they offered was the cremation package that included cremation services, venue for the viewing and memorial service, coffin, urn, and two additional services of your choice like an enlarged photo for the services, reception venue, dove release, a pendant with your thumbprint on it, and a whole host of other stuff that I can’t remember. I should have picked the dove release (you would probably haunt me if I did that). 😂😂😂 Anyways, did you know that you can even rent a coffin if you want to save some money!! Yes, you heard me right, rent a coffin?! I was like what?! But renting a coffin meant you would be cremated in a cardboard box. I’m sure if I cremated you in a cardboard box, you would haunt me forever 😜, so I made sure you had a nice coffin. They even have a room full of coffins that you can choose from. But I lost it when they took me into the coffin room, so they had to quickly usher me out. I couldn’t go back into that room of coffins, so I ended up picking your coffin from a catalogue. It was simple yet elegant, at least I hope it was, since I never actually saw it. But, the coffin I picked wasn’t part of the cremation packaging so I had to pay extra to upgrade it; like paying extra to upgrade a side dish at a prix fixe dinner. I just wanted the funeral service planning to be done quickly so it didn’t even occur to me to have them price it out a la carte, who knows, maybe it would have been cheaper. Either way, it was all very strange.
I even had to pay for your death certificates. They asked how many death certificates I wanted. I asked, “Why would I need more than one?!” I mean, when you were born, I’m sure you only got one birth certificate. (I don’t actually have a birth certificate since I was born during the war and there was no record keeping when you were just trying to stay alive and not get bombed to death.) When I became a naturalized citizen, I only got one certificate. When we got married, we only got one marriage certificate. So, why would I need more than one death certificate? It turns out, you need many death certificates to conduct the business side of death (or the institution of death as I like to call it), since everything I do with your estate requires a death certificate (and most require actual ones and not photocopy is what they said). So, they told me I should start with 10 death certificates and if I need more, I can order more. But you can’t return them if you don’t use them all. Well, I got 7 death certificates that says “causing pending investigation,” since some institutions require cause of death to be listed. Who knew the institutions of death were such sticklers. I'm stilling waiting on the 3 that will state definitely the cause your sudden and untimely death (or at least as definitely as they can)!
Anyways, I know your instructions were to not have any type of service, but how could I not?! You literally woke up one morning and decided to drop dead for no reason. Nobody would believe it. How could anybody find closure if they weren’t able to say goodbye?! It wasn’t like you were sick and people came to visit you, and they had the opportunity to say goodbye. Anyways Babe, you know that a funeral is not for the dead, it’s for the living, so you just have to deal with it! I’m sorry, but I made sure it was short, sweet, and simple. The viewing really wasn’t my idea but a lot of your family members wanted to see you one last time. How can I deny them that?! I didn’t go to the viewing because I already saw you at the hospital and you looked so peaceful; like you were sleeping. To be honest, I knew there was no way I was going to mentally survive seeing you inside a coffin. I was afraid I would lose whatever thin shred of sanity I had if I went to the viewing. Although at times, I regret not seeing you one last time, but ultimately, I know it was for the best. I rather have my last memory of you sleeping peacefully on a hospital bed than inside of a coffin with makeup on. I hope you liked the outfit I picked out for your viewing. I know, you would have preferred a baseball cap or beanie over the kangol, but I always thought you looked the cutest in a kangol and it matched your outfit a lot better. My brother helped picked out the watch since I couldn’t decide which one of the plethora of watches you had would match your outfit. They said shoes were optional, but I know you would kill me if I sent you to the spiritual world without any shoes on, especially since your shoe collection is 20 times bigger than mine! I made sure you were accessorized well (don’t worry babe, I wasn't about to send you into the spiritual world looking like a hot mess like I normally do on a day to day basis. 😂😂😂)
After you passed, there are a few images that continue to haunt me from the traumatic experience. The first image is seeing you fight for your life while you were on your knees while you kept saying “I’m going! I’m going! Hurry Up.” Another image is when the gurney came and before you got on, you turned towards me and gripped both my shoulders while we just stared at each other; speechless. I was in tears and you looked worried and scared. The last image is when I run towards you in the hospital room, and I hug and kiss you while I' crying and sobbing profusely over your lifeless body. Those are the three images that continue to haunt me everyday, and they play over and over again in my head. I wish I could make them stop but they never do. It’s like the repeat button is stuck and I can’t make it stop. Without a doubt, if I went to the viewing and saw you inside a coffin, I’m sure that image would haunt me 100 times more than any of the three images that are stuck on repeat now. Although at times, I regret not seeing you one last time, I know it was for the best. I don’t think I could mentally survive if the image of you inside a coffin was stuck on repeat in my head. I might never make it out of my crazy lady rant phase.
Well, for a person who didn’t want any type of service, you actually got the whole nine yards. My family also wanted to make sure you got a traditional Buddhist send off. My aunties found a Cambodian temple in San Leandro (I’ve lived in Oakland for almost 13 years and never knew there was a Cambodia temple down the street from us!! See, Google does know it all!!) When they arrived at the temple, they asked for the highest ranking monk available, but he was on a bank run (I guess monks have to go to the bank also!) So, they asked for the next highest ranking monk, who end up being a renowned monk visiting from Cambodia that is quite popular in the monk world. He was so great, they said I only needed one monk for the blessing. Usually there are multiple monks that come to do a blessing. So, the Thursday after you passed, the monks came to our house to do a blessing for your safe passage into the spiritual world. I invited your family as well. The monks chanted that death is inevitable; it either happens now or it happens later, but it’s not something we can run from. They told me to let you go, so we both can move on to the next chapter in our lives; me in the physical world and you in the spiritual world. Since Buddhists believe in reincarnation, if I couldn’t let you go, then you would be stuck in purgatory and wouldn’t be able to get reincarnated. They didn’t tell me what I needed to do to ‘let you go,’ but I was just supposed to ‘let you go.’ You know how I need detail, step by step instructions to get things done, so I’m still trying to figure it out. And it might take awhile, especially since I don’t have any instructions on how to do it either! I still haven’t really figured how I’m supposed to ‘let you go,’ but I do think about it a lot. I don’t want you to get stuck in purgatory and not get reborn again, but I don’t even know how to begin ‘letting you go.’ I guess it’s part of the many lessons I’m supposed to learn on this journey. Did I mention, this journey hella sucks big time!!! I wonder if throwing away your toothbrush last Wednesday would be considered a step in ‘letting you go.’ When I got back from China, I just couldn’t look at your toothbrush standing next to mine anymore, so I threw it away. bThis was the first physical thing of yours that I tossed out. The only thing I've purged of yours so far is erasing shows on the DVR and throwing away perishable food stuff (if you don’t count giving the fish away and making YA get rid of the motorcycle).
P.S. Yes, of course your service was on an auspicious day. You know how superstitious my family is, they weren’t going to just have your service and cremation occur on any random day. But A Gung didn’t pick the auspicious day this time, since he didn’t know you passed. It was the monks at the Cambodian temple who picked the auspicious day for your memorial service and cremation. Like always, everything went over smoothly and without any issues (I guess these auspicious days really work). I know you would have preferred A Gung to pick the auspicious day like he did both times we moved into our homes and when we got married, but what could I do?! They didn’t want to upset him with such horrible news at his old age, but he eventually found out through the grapevines anyways. (I think it’s better that he knows since how many excuses can I come up with about why you’re not visiting.) He took it really hard when he found out. Auntie CY said he was crying over the phone when he called to confirm with her. I guess he really does love his black grandson-in-law! My grandma still doesn’t know and she asks for you all the time when I see or talk to her. (Yes, it’s really hard. It’s a good think she can’t see anymore. Cause I would never be able to keep a straight face when I say, “he’s working.” I wonder how long that excuse will for work. I’m sure she will be surprise when she see you in the spiritual world!! She would say, “John (since she can’t pronounced Sean), what are you doing here?” And you would laugh, walk up to her, give her a hug and kiss, and say, “A ma, I’ve been waiting for you. I told A Juk (my name in Chinese) that you were going to outlive us all, but she didn’t believe me.”
A grieving widow who is trying to find meaning and purpose from her tragic event.