Daily Archive for August 27th, 2006

It’s been 8 weeks now…

This weekend marks 8 weeks since my Dad passed away. Two months.

I’ve been counting the weeks because my Mom, Bro, and I have spent the last 7 Saturday mornings at the place where my Dad’s ashes are interred. In Buddhist tradition, the funeral ceremony lasts for the first 7 weeks (7 weeks x 7 days = 49 days) after someone passes away. Although it’s been hard, I found solace after my Dad’s Memorial Service in going to the weekly chanting services every Saturday morning (every 7th day) with my Mom, Bro, and other assorted family members and close friends at the Rose Mausoleum/Pagoda where my father’s ashes were interred last month. The Buddhist Columbarium at Rose Hills is also where my Grandfather (Dad’s Dad) and Grandmother (Mom’s Mom) had their ashes interred. My Dad’s niche is right next to my Grandfather’s. I would cut flowers from my front yard and bring them as offerings for the service and leave them by my Dad and Grandfather’s niches.

This week, I didn’t do any of that.

Now that it’s the 8th week, my “new” routine has come to an end. I know that Buddhists stress the impermanence of life and the inevitability of death, but it still makes me sad to realize that my Dad is gone in the way I knew him. The last two months have simulatenously flown and crawled by. I felt sad that I didn’t go visit my Dad’s ashes on Saturday, but I realized that it wasn’t realistic for me to do so every week. I had to give myself permission to make other plans that morning. Instead, I went to an appointment in San Gabriel and then visited my grandmother.

In the afternoon, I went back home to visit/help my Mom around the house. My Dad’s photo, the one we had to select and have enlarged for the Memorial Service, has been placed prominently on the mantle, kind of like an altar. When I used to walk through the front door, I used to yell loudly into the house (depending on who was home), “MOM! DAD! BRO! I’m home!” When I got home, my Mom ran to the front door to let me in. And my brother wasn’t home. So I had no one to yell to. So then I just said hi to my Dad (well, his picture, anyway) and told him I was home, kind of like how I used to. Except it was definitely not the same.

I spent the rest of Saturday in the garage, aka: my Dad’s office, rifling through boxes and boxes of stuff that my parents had saved from our childhoods. My Dad was an architect and an art lover. As a kid (ok, as a teenager, too), I used to pore through his library of books about Picasso, Miro, Monet, and more… My parents saved countless pieces of artwork my brother and I had made. I dug through boxes and boxes of my schoolwork from junior high and high school, throwing out years and years of homework and notes… kept because of all the “A’s” I’d earned over the years. (Sheesh, I was SUCH a nerd!). I found years and years worth of letters I’d exchaged with pen pals over the years. And I threw out all kinds of flyers and other papers from various high school activities I’d participated in.

And I felt sad because even though all these things were in the past and I didn’t need to hang on to them, when I saw all these things that I’d kept over the years, a flood of memories came back to me of all the things our family did together and I worried that without these things to remind me of them, that I’d forget them forever.

So then I had to give myself permission to throw all these things away and remind myself that the memories weren’t in the things, they are in me.

I still haven’t really gotten to the point that I really want to say more than a few words about my Dad and I’m definitely not at the point that I feel like I can write about it, but then I worry if I don’t just put it down, will I never get to it? There are all these things I’d wanted to do with my Dad, especially things like writing down our family history and to do a blog with him about Taiwan/Taiwanese independence. It makes me hurt when I think about it all because now we’ll never get to do these things together.

Now I also want to make a website about my Dad, something to memorialize him with. (Nevermind the fact that I had promised my Dad I’d help him build one for the stuff he was working on while he was alive.) But it’s overwhelming to go through the stuff and organize it all, and I’m scared I won’t do him justice.

So now I’m scared that I’m going to be stuck in this strange rut of doing nothing because I’m overwhelmed and afraid I won’t do things good enough.

I guess all I can do is to give myself permission to do things a little at a time, remind myself that my life is different and that I’ve got to move on, and that my Dad would want me to be myself and live my life fully, not to be paralyzed by this.

So maybe as one of these first baby steps of getting my life “back to normal,” I have to give myself permission to blog again. To realize that before this happened, I had no problem writing about things that were insignificant and that I every post I write doesn’t have to be about my Dad anymore. That I shouldn’t feel like people will think I’m not thinking about my Dad all the time, especially when I’m not writing about him all the time.

And I have to give myself permission to write about my Dad when the impulse strikes and not to save it up to a time when I can “write something well,” because time is precious and sometimes it’s more important to just write it down, even if it’s not perfect.

I have to give myself permission to also spend my time with my friends again and that I don’t have to feel guilty if I don’t spend every free moment with my family: balance is important.

I guess that’s enough permission for myself for the moment, so I’ll indulge with another photo of me and my Dad. In the one below, I would guess that I’m maybe 5 to 7 years old, based on the dress I’m wearing. I can’t remember the context of the photo at all, but I know that we are in the family room of at my Grandparents’ place. That couch has long since been replaced and the light on the right now sits in the living room of my parents’ house, but everything else in the picture is pretty much the same. Except for the people, of course.

Dad & Joz: Early 1980s

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