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Goodnight Grandma

By November 25, 2013

Despite having prepared myself mentally that someday my grandma will leave me, I still could not contain my heartache as I saw her wrapped up in white cloth, carried and hauled onto the caretaker's van from the hospital's mortuary. What breaks my heart even more was watching my dad speaking gently to him mother, telling her that she was going home.

Due to the fact that her passing was sudden, it took a while to get my grandma's coffin transported to the location. During that time, grandma laid there, pale and motionless. Her hair was combed back but lost all her perm. She has chosen a pastel blue outfit, which was actually my favourite outfit of hers. Her right feet calf was bandaged, concealing the wound that took her life away. But apart from that, she looked just like she was asleep, only this time, she would never wake up. The thought of that made me want to bawl my eyes out. But I had to stop myself because during that time she was considered "alive" and her spirit wouldn't know that she was gone. So, we were refrained from crying because it might scare her spirit.

But crying was all we wanted to do, and needed to do at that moment, and despite my dad being in deep mourning, he still managed to glare at me when he saw tears in my eyes. So there we were, chock full of emotions but no vessel to release them.  More so as we exchanged memories of her and her final moments. I did not make it in time to say goodbye to her, so the stories of her final moments were very emotional for me.

The funeral make up artist arrived and did her job. My grandma never used make up in her life so I wonder, what would she think about the makeup on her face. She even had on some mascara! But the end result was natural looking, the type of look she would've preferred if she was alive. We could not help but smile while holding back our tears.

My dad and my aunts clad my grandma in a Buddhist afterlife gown, and we also return her rosary beads to hold in her hands.

After that, she was laid in her coffin. Due to the circumstances of her passing and the duration of the wake (5 days), blocks of dried ice were laid around and on her before we put the afterlife blankets on her. Now, we are officially in mourning. It was strange to note that after grandma was laid in her coffin that everyone seemed to cry less. Maybe because there were other mourners around, but us, the cousins and the aunts managed a couple of small jokes and banter. Perhaps we are slowly coming to terms with her passing.

Most of my immediate cousins are home, from Japan, Singapore, Australia and interstates. Some of us haven't seen each other in years. As we sat at the foot of the coffin folding afterlife paper money. An aunt who love banters joined us. One banter after another led to us pulling a small prank on her. It was just like old days during when we were children and teenagers, except we were eating guachis (watermelon seeds) and counting our red packet money last time. But I am certain my grandma would be pleased to see us like that, just like how she sat on her armchair watching us in the same banter during Chinese New Year and smiled the widest smile.

2 hours of sleep and 8 hours of air travel and 2 hours of road travel  in a bit more than 36 hours, plus all the crying and being on my feet wore me down. Despite taking 4 neurofens pills yesterday. I had a terrible headache, possible due to a blocked nose. My back was aching from sitting and standing for so long and being in and out in the humid condition, a stark and sudden change from the more moderate Australian climate.  But I sad through the prayer as the monks spoke of her virtue and we read sutras to my grandma, hoping she would find peace in afterlife.

Each time I look at grandma in her coffin, I really wish she would open her eyes or move her lips, or anything. Each time I was disappointed. My housekeepers told my mum of my grandma's apparition around the time my grandma was "in-between," and the appearance of a white-haired man in the garden of the empty house beside man. In addition, they also said that they heard my grandma speaking to a man in her bedroom. Whether all that was true or not, I was not scared at all when I heard that news. Maybe grandpa has come to take her away to be with her.

Today is the second day of the wake and I have a sore neck. At least I am better at barring that emotional floodgate, for now.

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  1. So sorry for your loss. I went through this during the summer. Only I didn't get on the plane and I guess I will never forgive myself for that. Reading your words somewhat gave me a closure I never had. I hope as time goes by it will be easier to bare your pain.

    1. Thanks irina. Sorry for your loss as well. I am still trying to find that closure...