Hello all. I am now back in the land down under.
Time in my head has become a tiny bit fragmented. A bit surreal. A bit dreamlike.
I laugh and I cry, but I feel somehow void of these emotions.
Nothing I do will ever return my grandma back to me.
Life really is such an unpredictable thing.
I would like to thank each and every single person who has left a message on my last post, who tweeted and responded on my instagram for their love and support to me, who privately texted me to send me their condolences.
All your thoughts, well wishes and love were like a lifeline to me, when I felt the lowest.
I know I must stay strong and I must not dwell too much on it.
Indeed many have said, “she lived a ripe old age” and that she “suffered only for a short time”.
All these things I will forever be grateful for, but they do not lessen the pain.
I will come out of this grieving process, as the living can only move on with their lives.
But I will never forget and will forever treasure the memories of my dearest Po Po.
I will write and I will share my stories, one step at a time.
As the plane touched down on Monday morning, my cousin, uncle and I made our way to our grandparents’ house.
We joked, and we laughed. But each joked ended with slight trepidation.
The need to get there and the need to prolong the meeting with my Po Po was interwoven in such a strong mesh of conflicting emotions.
If we didn’t get there soon enough, we would waste precious moments to spend time. If we got there too soon, it will all become a reality too fast.
But I need not have feared. There was nothing to worry about.
One by one, we arrived, we hugged each other and we said our final goodbyes.
She looked peaceful. They had set her up in a beautiful polished casket which she had chosen some time previously (when you get to a certain age, you plan for these things).
All around her, were beautiful golden yellow clothes, draped around her casket to make a little private sanctuary for her.
I know, if you are familiar with Chinese traditions, you’re probably wondering out loud… “Yellow? Shouldn’t it be white?”
She had previously mentioned to my aunt that she didn’t want to have a wake and a funeral that was garish looking and depressing.
It’s so like my grandma to be so well organised right down to the furnishings!
One of her last wishes were for us to prepare 100 bowls, chopsticks and spoons to give out to guests who attended her wake.
It is usually customary to hand out the bowl, chopstick and spoon at celebrations of life, such as birthdays, as they symbolise longevity and abundance of food.
Grandma wished to do so at her wake, as she didn’t want us to feel sad for her, and that we should celebrate her life and not mourn her passing.
On the first night of the wake, we gave away all 100 bowls.
By the time her funeral came, we had already given out 250 bowls.
She was just that popular and probably never expected that many people to pay her a “visit” at her wake.
I know she will be happy as she always loved a good party 🙂
On the day of her funeral, the sun was scorching hot and there didn’t seem to be any sign of cooling down.
We were all a bit worried, as we would need to walk with our white socks (no shoes) on the road, following her casket up the road where she lived for the last 20 odd years.
It was to be a short walk, but the heat made us all just a tiny bit wary.
As we took our first steps, the sun disappeared behind some clouds, and a cool breeze accompanied us all to the end of the road.
Us four cousins at the back joked that our Po Po arranged it so that her “princesses” wouldn’t have to suffer the heat 🙂
There is a Chinese superstition for funerals.
Whereby the spirit of the recently departed will attend his/her own wake and watch their proceedings through a borrowed vessel.
This vessel is usually represented by a moth, a cricket, a grasshopper or any other similarly winged insects.
During the last night of my Po Po’s wake and on the day of the funeral, there appeared to be a beautiful dragonfly with bright gold wings.
It stayed the whole night, and was there until we took our journey with our grandma’s casket.
When we returned from the crematorium, the beautiful golden dragonfly had departed to the afterlife as well.
As a family, we joked and laughed that it was such a Po Po thing to do to come back and visit us not as the common superstitious stories would have us believe (as a moth), but as a beautiful dragonfly with gold wings.
My grandma loved dressing up, and so it was no surprise that she would have chosen such a vessel 🙂
Throughout the week, there were much laughter, sorrow, tears and happiness to be had.
Laughter from our memories of our grandma and how funny she was. Sorrow that we lost her too suddenly in our lives.
Tears from not being able to say goodbye. Happiness from having had such a wonderful woman be part of our lives who loved us all so much.
The nights were taken up with much Buddhist prayers and chantings.
There were lots of kneeling and praying, and paying respects to our grandmother and Buddha.
Throngs of visitors from various temples came by with their monks/nuns to offer their respects and pray for this old lady with the huge heart.
As we scattered her ashes to the sea on Friday, I couldn’t help but feel a small door shut.
Closure, that we were there right from the start to the very end.
As we said our final goodbyes to her physical form, I couldn’t help but giggle as the boat made its way back to the harbour.
The Boy asked me, “What’s so funny?”
I looked up at him, with tears sparkling in my eyes, smiled and said, “Po Po is waving back at us! Can you see?”
If that made you laugh, please hold that thought and say a little prayer to my lovely grandmother with the kindest most forgiving soul I have known 🙂
I am taking it easy, one step at a time 🙂
Thank you again, especially for the memories.
Love… little ‘ol me 🙂