一起經歷生老病死 – going through first funeral together

Before my parents left my mom said ‘I hope to see you soon’. None of us expected we will see each other in less than a week.

I knew this day would come, I just wasn’t ready for it.
On the 20th of June, my dear great grandmother passed away at the age of 99.

I knew at this age it could be any day, I knew she broke her hip recently so the risk of death was much higher. No one called us that she’s getting worse and worse.
That morning I received a text message. I didn’t notice it until my phone alarm rang. For some reason I couldn’t sleep that night so I was watching the TV in the other room. Later on even my dad said he had a weird feeling that morning.

I noticed unread message from my dad that great grandma died and I just broke down in tears. I ran to Sing and for a while I couldn’t say anything, I was just there crying in his arms.
He thought I burnt my leg with hot water again, but it wasn’t the case. I would pour the hot water on my legs if that would bring grandma back to life.

After I calmed down a bit it was time to call my parents, get prepared for the funeral, organize our flight.

I was a mess, all of the sudden everything landed on Sing’s shoulders. Keeping me in OK-shape, ensuring everything’s prepared for quarter end at work, getting the tickets to get to Poland, packing us.

It wouldn’t be a good idea to leave any of these tasks to me. The best I could do is to go to work and try to keep my mind focused on something else. I was on emotional roller-coaster, going from sadness to anger. I was sadden by the fact that I didn’t even have a chance to say ‘Goodbye’ to her, on the top of that until Wednesday afternoon we didn’t even know the funeral would be held of Friday, but I knew on Tuesday there were no direct flights to Poland from Ireland anymore.
It will sound awful but I was mad at my own folks sending their kids on holidays to grandparents, because I couldn’t get us seats from any airport in Ireland.

We usually keep our relationship very professional, however Sing would give me a call every now and then just to see how I am.
When I got the information regarding the date of funeral, he left the meeting he was in as soon as possible and organized our flights and time out of office. My great boss was a real help too, giving me extra days even though QE was approaching.

After hour of research we left our workplace in mid-day and the same day we flew to Iceland, then to Germany, from Germany we took a bus to my hometown where my parents picked us up and drove to the place of funeral.
Sing organized our 30 hours long trip so we both could see her one last time. 
At the same time he took care of me, making sure I would eat and get enough sleep. He let me be annoyed, upset, allowed me to express all the negative emotions. He was just there.

At the day of the funeral I tried to stay calm, but closer we got to the chapel, the more nervous I was.
He was in the car holding my shaking hand. When we finally got there, I broke down again.

I think open casket funerals are torture. My grandma’s face didn’t look like her at all. The body was pale and cold. I wish to remember her face as in the picture I had, smiling with little chubby cheeks.

When I was crying he was passing me napkins. He gently patted my back. He didn’t pray like the rest of us, in a Christian way. But he told me he spoke to her in his head. 婆婆 – Popo.

And then when they were about to close the coffin and move her to the church, me and my dad  noticed a beautiful gesture no one else did as we were the last one to leave the chapel. Sing bowed three times to her.
The purest gesture I’ve seen – not flowers thrown to the hole in the ground, or big tears followed up with a lot of crying noise.
Just quietly, not watched by anyone, he gave his highest respect to her. It moved my heart.
He wouldn’t know what to say or do in a church so he would copy the people’s movement, but in his mind he was focused on being a stone for our whole family, the strong one.

In the past it was my dad’s shoulder where I would seek comfort in grief. Now Sing took over his job and he did it pretty well.
I wasn’t sure should I write this post, but Sing did an amazing job in comforting me during my tough time. Despite not speaking the language, not understanding the customs, despite not being Christian, he did his best to pay respect to my great grandma, to my family and to me.

Some people say interracial and intercultural relationships won’t work when the real challenge shows up, but Sing proved that despite the circumstances, it will work if you love someone and want to be there for them.

I wish you all have someone like that when the time has come. It won’t change the sadness, it won’t make the grief any smaller, but you will have someone to pick you from the bottom.

The only highlight of this whole situation was meeting my mother’s side of the family and the twins, new members of the clan.
One life ended, but two others just began. Life goes on, but I’m proud and happy to go through it with a wonderful person like my husband.

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23 thoughts on “一起經歷生老病死 – going through first funeral together

  1. Im sorry for your loss. I too lost my dad, a year into my relaitonship with my french bf. But at that time he happened to have left the country to go back. It wss difficult time for the relationship. He was broke at and at wits end. It would be not possible to return within such a short time. I had to mourn and go through al the preparation, funeral, aftermath grieving myself. He was there behind the scene texting me, calling me. It was very tough. Now we re together in France. Its my hope that our relationship can weather storms in life too.

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  2. Sorry for your loss, this must have been a difficult post to write, but it was very insightful. Such a powerful experience can have only strengthened your bond with Sing.

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  3. So sorry for the passing of your great-grandma, Lina. As sad and difficult as this time is, Sing did exactly what was needed, when you needed it – even though you are from two completely different cultures, that is all that matters.

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  4. Wow, 99! I’m glad you wrote this, and I’m glad Sing was there for you as the rock. When Dad died, I felt I pretty much had to take on the whole thing, although my sister flew in from Hong Kong. It’s been three years, but sometimes, I feel the blow, the impact still lingering on the entirety of my being. I am sorry to read about the passing of your great-grandmother.

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