This morning was Papa’s funeral. Everything has happened so fast – it’s been less than 72 hours since he passed away.
We started the day by picking up a few people who wanted to attend. I was happy that more people were able to attend. There were our Chinese neighbours and a couple who worked with Mama and Papa back in China at the same Institute. One of his very kind caregivers came as well. Rosa and I picked them up and drove to the funeral home to have a few minutes viewing. It was Mama’s last opportunity to see her husband.
At 10:20, the casket was closed. I had asked to be one of the pallbearers. The other four pallbearers were hired from the funeral home. Rosa and I followed the hearse to the Funeral Mass at Notre Dame de Lourdes de Cyrville. There were more people at the church, including Papa’s sponsor from his baptism, other members of the Chinese Catholic community and Rosa’s private ballet instructor and his wife.
The Father Bosco Wong gave the service; he had baptized Papa in June. We had asked if we could tape the mass to share with other family members, but the Father did not approve of filming in the church. The Mass was performed entirely in Mandarin (which was one of the allowances from Vatican 2).
It was a hard time for Mama. Rosa and I and her friends supported her. At the end of the Mass, once we had placed the casket in the hearse, Rosa, Mama and I just held each other closely and wept.
The procession then moved to Beachwood Cemetery for the commitment prayers by Deacon Peter Feng at the Mausoleum. Finally, the casket was lowered through the floor of the Mausoleum, feeling very much like a traditional burial. From there, it will later be moved to the crematorium. This was the hardest time for Mama. Rosa, Mama and I held each other again just before the casket was lowered.
Once the ceremony was complete, we thanked everyone for coming, thanked the pallbearers for helping, and thanked Suzanne from Tubman Funeral Homes for arraigning the funeral details.
Mama signed the necessary cremation papers in both English and Mandarin. We left and drove everyone home. Rosa, Mama and I went for a small lunch with Papa’s caregiver – she had taken the day off work to attend which was very touching.
This evening, everyone is exhausted. Mama slept for hours. The home is now very quiet. The normal sounds of Papa (the cough, the TV) or the sounds of Mama caring for him (preparing food, bathing, cleaning) are all missing.