Well, Last night was the wake for Kathy's mom.
We arrived to the funeral home about 3:30, laden with various types of cookies for the refreshment of other guests. Heather, Sanja, and Kathy had already arrived. Kathy was standing in front of the casket, alone. Heather was by the door, out of sight from the content of the casket, looking very perplexed. We saw Sanja as we turned the corned to head downstairs to where the lobby was. She was beet red, sobbing her eyes out. Tashio stayed and tried to comfort her, the first of many attempts to do so. Cindy and I headed downstairs and set up the food table. While we were down there Cindy expressed her concerns "I can't look at her, I can't go up there." I just listened. She had never seen a dead body before, she was afraid. I remember when i first had that feeling, at my great-grandma's wake a few years back. We returned up stairs. Kathy was still standing at the front, talking very quiet Chinese to her dead mother's body. We all (Tashio, Me, Cindy, Heather, and Sanja) sat down in the third row of fold-up chairs and watched her. I kept thinking to myself that she was such a small person, but she is so strong. I admired her, because i could never see myself in her position. She turned and saw us all sitting in a row. "i'm going to call my dad now," she said as she left the room. we sat there for a minute in silence, then Cindy declares "I have to go see." I think, I better go with her, she will need me there for support. We get up to the casket, look at the body. that is when it all suddenly became real. the tears started to flow... and flow, and fall to the floor. (It made me think of all the people who had ever morned in the room and all the tears that were hidden in the carpet.) I moved away from the casket, hoping that reality would again seem like fiction, but no, it hit and hit hard. I cried alone, staring at the wall, for a while. Then Cindy came and tried to comfort me. Kathy came back and then we all stood in front of the casket. Kathy started speaking Chinese to her mom again, and then she translated for us: "look mom, you can go, look at all these good friends i have." Heather asked if we should pray, and Kathy nodded. We all stood holding hands Kathy and heather's hands placed on the casket. Heather thanked God for giving us the short time we had with Mrs. Luo, and thanked him even more that she gave us Kathy. Kathy's dad arrived, along with her aunt. We went and sat down on one of the couches in the back of the room. There we sat a people began to file into the room. Mostly Chinese people, but there were a few familiar faces: Dave got there early and stayed the whole time (i think he is slowly becoming one of our group), Caitlin showed up (although she didn't really know Kathy well, she was genuinely concerned), a few teachers. A steady flow of Chinese people came, none were related to Kathy, but they were in the Chinese circle. More people came, some familiar some not so familiar. Fatimeh came later (thank God, because Cindy would have killed he if she didn't show up), Katherine, Sam & David, old friends, and acquaintances. There were more I'm sure, but it was overwhelming. A Chinese pastor came and gave a sermon in Chinese, along with a guy who translated it into English. Truthfully, i think some of the message was lost in translation. Cindy started to cry so hard during the message, i had to stand up and get her a Kleenex box because her whole face was wet. When the pastor finished, Kathy stood up and said a few words. She said "my mom was a strong woman." The pastor said after Kathy had finished that Kathy had inherited that trait from her mom. That is true. Cindy, excused herself and went outside, I followed her to make sure she was alright. We cried some more, she said to me (and Drew, who she had called) "I just was staring at the picture of her, and i can't stop thinking that were going to go to Kathy's house and she'll be there. Like she always was." That's when it hit me, the hardest part is yet to come. When things start to get back to normal, and you realize that it's not normal.
The wake was ending, everybody had left except a few. Kathy was back at the front. We all gathered around her, gave her a big group hug. Let her know again, that if she needed anything at all to just ask. We stood there for a while and then Kathy's dad came and said "Kathy, it's time to go." And then we all hugged one last time and left.
We went to Cindy's house, because today is her birthday. We ate pizza and cake, but it wasn't really the same. We left fairly early, because we were all emotionally exhausted. I was home before midnight, but it seemed much later.
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