The one year anniversary for my mom’s passing is this week. It also coincides with mother’s day. Feelings for her have been appearing more often in my meditations. There is lots of sadness and tears. Sadness doesn’t feel negative to me. When I am fully accepting of it, it feels full of humaanity. It makes me whole.
Here I share a copy of the eulogy I made at her funeral. In remembrance of her. She was not perfect, but she was brave. That is all we can ask of ourselves in this precious experience of life.
When I heard the news about my mom, I couldn’t bear asking why this happened for a few minutes. Reality has her way of silencing us with blunt cruelty. To say her death was unexpected is an understatement. She was after all only 68, about to turn 69 next month. I had started to think about moving back from overseas in anticipation of my parents’ old age and live closer to them. But in my mind, that was at least another 5 to 10 years away. In her death, my mom has shown us that in the end, none of us can control how much time anyone has.
The dead doesn’t cry. Sadness only belongs to those of us who are left behind. Many words are left unsaid and things not yet shared. I, for one, wish I had shared with her the novels I have written since she had loved reading. I wish I had told her more how much more I understood, as I grew older, the ordeals as a woman she had gone through. I entered motherhood a year before her retirement and have not had much time to devote to caring for or express affection to her. Our communication these days primarily focused on my child. She had invested herself wholeheartedly into buying things for Ella. I sense she was subconsciously making up for the toys and clothes she had no means of buying for me when I was growing up. The truth is I don’t remember any of the clothes I didn’t have or miss the toys she couldn’t buy. I do remember the silly and loud moments we shared as we grew up. Laughter was the weapon she had created to carry her through the countless challenges in life, and she also used it to connect with me. Her unique brand is the loudness of her laughter.
My mom’s passing was sudden, but it was also merciful. She didn’t suffer much and lived a fully active life until the very last moment. You will hear from many others today about how we miss her in the various roles she played in life. While we are all sad for her, I will also venture to say that we should be happy for her. I know she seemed like a happy person, but she has also suffered in this life. From the political turmoil that deprived her of the educational opportunities she deserved, the famine and illness that tortured her body, the systematic discrimination as a woman that left her with unfulfilled dreams, and to the trial and tribulations as an immigrant, she had suffered. Bravely, she has carried the frustrations and pain of these experiences inside her all her life. In many ways, she is freer now, where she no longer needs to care what the world expected of her. She has finally shed all the burdens that life imposed on many of us. She is the triumphant one in this room.
I was in a retreat in the beautiful temple on Jeju Island in South Korea when I heard from my dad that I had lost my mother. When I finally hung up the phone, I remember letting the tears run freely while I looked outside my window. It was a beautiful sunny day with a mild breeze. A tiny bird landed on a small tree right outside my room. For a moment, in this peaceful temple, I wondered if somewhere my mom’s spirit has merged with nature and was already flying freely with the creatures like that bird in the sky.
Death is not scary. One day I know we will all be as free as her. Before then, I believe the best way to honor her being is to live and love as freely as we can, while we are still here in the flesh.
Thank you, and may the love of her spirit unite all of us in the times to come.