Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Got a car for my birthday...

An Audi R8. I'd be more excited if it were life-sized and I had keys for it... but still, it made me smile. 


My car's been giving trouble... it's at the age where, suddenly, everything needs changing. I've been trying to get it sold... and also looking for one that I can afford. It's a surprisingly difficult process. I'd like to just be able to go somewhere and say "here are my keys, I'd like another car"... *Sigh*

I realise I've got a few car posts or posts inspired by being either with or without my car so... here they are again:
I've been fretting too much about this I think. Going to give it some space... Someone will buy car and I will find another. Everything will happen in its own time. 

In the meantime, I've got an Audi R8 to keep me amused.

peace,
Ren

Monday, April 29, 2013

Kindle

The cute guy got me a Kindle for my birthday. This means I now have access to all sorts of reading materials... books, magazines, blogs. So much stuff! 



Kindle Paperwhite - cuz he says he knows I'm the type to try to read in the dark and such. He is awesome! 

I will try not to forget you world. Be back tomorrow after I've played with it some. 

peace,
Ren

Sunday, April 28, 2013

30th Birthday. (warning: long post...)

It's my birthday today... and Google knows: 

That's just a little bit of awesome right there. 

Did not have to reschedule plans due to rain last night. Yay? Yay! Was taken out by the Cupcake Wench to try a new experience (is always good to have friends who can bake/cook...too bad this experience wasn't about baking/cooking). It was... interesting. Fun... but also traumatising. That's all I can say about it publicly. Yay to new experiences though - am making it a policy to at least try stuff before deciding whether I like it or not. Went out to dinner with Cupcake Wench, her hubby, Carib Boy (who makes awesome mosaic stuff) and the cute guy. Managed to reach home before midnight - I have this issue where I want to be at home when it becomes birthday. 

Cute guy was here to wish me Happy Birthday... he is awesome.

I sent him home because I wanted to go to bed so that I'd get up early and perhaps make it to Guru Gita at the Ashram. For years I'd been going with my mom for my birthday... but then last year, I'm not sure how, both of us overslept. This year... I realise that it's not easy getting up to leave home at 5 a.m. if I go to bed after midnight. Is part of getting older? Need more rest? Woke up at 4 a.m., thought about it... convinced self that I could stay in bed a bit longer... it started to rain. I don't know who can leave their bed at that hour when it's raining. If you can do that - you are awesome. I decided to give thanks for Livestream - put it on to look at... and fell asleep. Ah well. 

I dreamt my mom. I wish I could tell you what I dreamt exactly but the times that I can do that are few and far between. I've mentioned before that I hardly ever remember dreams. I woke up happy though - light-hearted... determined that it would be a good day. 

The Cat was clingy and wanted to sleep on me. I had to get up though... my dad and brother were talking about breakfast. Buffet breakfast discussions ended up with us going to Woodford Café... where my brother and I ate a lot and my dad took photos of us eating a lot. 

The cute guy took me out for dim sum. It's a bit tough being a vegetarian - there are usually only so many options available wherever one goes to dine. We'd been talking about dim sum for some time but... it's usually very meaty - which is fine for the cute guy, not so fine for me. Luckily, I saw this post by TriniChow. Delightful dim sum at Tiki Village? Yes, please... and yes, it was. The Tiki Village people gave me a slice of chocolate cake because it's my birthday... I like that restaurants give free desserts if there's a birthday. 

We went to the Trinidad and Tobago Garden Club's Flower Festival. I have photos... will try to post them some time. I'd been anxious about how the rainy weather might affect the festival but it went on as planned. Apart from being fond of flowers, it was a bit of remembrance - if my mom were here she'd have gone with me. We've been to flower shows by the Orchid Society and the Horticultural Society. We've been to gardens in New Jersey and Massachusetts. We've bonded over pretty flowers... and the knowledge that plants are safer in other people's hands than our own. I am... extraordinarily pleased... that the cute guy carried me and showed interest and took photos with me. 

I had a really good day. Perhaps some may not have found it interesting but, I had fun, spent time with people that I love and did stuff that I love. What more could one ask for in a birthday?

I've a lot of birthday messages to respond to - will get to them in time.

Thanks to all for the love, the positive vibes, the birthday wishes. 

Love,
Ren

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Rain.

It is birthday weekend... day before the birthday. I have plans but apparently so has Mother Nature. It has been raining buckets since yesterday. Might have to reschedule plans due to weather. Not particularly pleased but ah well... what will be will be. 

Sometimes it's the last minute change of plans that are most fun.

Happy weekend all!

peace,
Ren 

Friday, April 26, 2013

3 random, unrelated questions:


  1. Why do some restaurants not open on Saturdays for lunch... Sundays for lunch/dinner? Surely the weekend would be a good time to have a restaurant open? 
  2. Why are there so many different cell phones to choose from? So many different makes and models. I want an up-to-date phone but have to find one that can comfortably fit in my hand and still be fairly powerful. That is all I require. Good talk and standby time would be a bonus. 
  3. Why do some drivers (in Trinidad and Tobago) disregard most of the rules of the road? Why is there no one to catch/penalise them for that?
Just curious. 

peace,
Ren

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A note on accepting condolences:

Do it with grace. 

I've found that it's one of the hardest things. It's just over three weeks since my mom's passing... there have been a lot of condolences, sympathy notes and calls. Lots of family and friends who feel sorrow about her death and are concerned about us. I'm still receiving condolences as people find out. 

Such events spread ripples in our lives. 

Yesterday my manager and I were alone in our lunchroom - she asked if she could give me a hug ... if I was up for receiving hugs. I don't know that I ever will be up for receiving sympathy hugs but I took it anyway. Hugs help even if you're not sure you want them. Each bit of sympathy is a reminder that my mom is no longer physically with us. While it lets me know that people are there to share in our sorrow... to lessen the ache... it hurts a bit because it is also a reminder of why I need it. 

People want to share their own stories and experiences they've had with mom. This is both a blessing and... not. I am grateful because in their sharing I learn more about someone that has been such a big part of my life. I am saddened that I won't get to create more stories and experiences with her. 

It's hard when people ask how I'm doing and if all is well. Hard to smile and accept condolences. I do my best just because I know people are concerned and also, in the case of close friends and family, experiencing their own loss. 

I'm fine... sad and missing my mom's physical presence, especially as the birthday draws near, but otherwise I'm fine. 

Thanks for all the love and support. 

peace,
Ren


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

My head and my heart hurts...

Braved the weather today (April showers!) and took a walk to buy lunch. To get to where there are food places there are two ways I can go, I can either take a long route along the roads or a shorter route which passes through a small residential area. I usually take the shorter route... can get from my workplace to food place and back to workplace in under 15 minutes. There's a risk though - along the shorter route there's a garage - I'm usually heckled every time I pass. It always bothers me - some days more than others. 

I don't think guys realise all that it is to be a girl. That at every moment there must be a part of you always on alert. Always wary of the threat of being harassed or attacked whether it be verbally or physically. I can project as much positive vibes as I want to but there's always a part of me that is cautious. This wariness, what we feel and how guys can approach us have been spoken about by many people but the best I've read is this: Schrödinger's Rapist: or a guy's guide to approaching strange women without being maced. Give it a read. 

Earlier this month I read about the rape and death of Rehtaeh Parsons and I learnt that in the US, Sexual Assault Awareness Month is observed every April. I thought that although I'd previously blogged about how rape and assault makes me sick to my stomach... I'd blog some more. We could all use reminders of what's happening in the world to help us figure out how we can help make things better.  

The cover of one of my country's newspapers today: 

Click for article. 

Ergh. Aren't the police supposed to "protect and serve"? 

It hurts both my head and my heart. 

Links:

For the period January to March 2013, there have been 104 reported cases of 'rapes, incest and sexual offences' in Trinidad and Tobago according to the TTPS

I'm sure the actual number that occured is higher. I'm thankful that I've never been in a position to be included in those numbers. I wonder what more I can do to help people that are. 

Sending out love and positive vibes. 

peace,
Ren  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Did you know?

Today is "World Book and Copyright Day" - a day in which UNESCO hopes to promote 'reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright'. I think that's cool. I love reading, hope to someday write something (apart from the blog) that I'll publish and will definitely want my intellectual property protected. 

Not much to say today. I feel somewhat moody... and have backache and neckache which I think are caused by sitting at a desk all day. Bah. Must remember to stretch more.

peace,
Ren

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day 2013!

Earth Day today... take a moment to breathe and give thanks for our air, earth and water. 

I've blogged about Earth Day before, in 2010, 2011 and 2012. I think of it as a fairly important day. The earth supports us, we should do what we can to support it. 

There's lots of information online about Earth Day, about what's happening with the earth and about things we can do to help out. I thought I'd share just a little bit of that with you.

1. The history of Earth Day. Did you know it first started in 1970? I didn't... or maybe I did and forgot. 

2. TED-Ed's Lesson worth sharing:  Phenology and nature's shifting rhythms by Regina Brinker... discussing how the natural cycles of plants and animals are affected by rising global temperatures. Note: humans are animals...  


3. Earth Day every day... Omega's teachers on how we can make small changes in our lives that would make a difference for us all: 

4. Today's Google Doodle... for a bit of fun and just because it's really well done.

peace,
Ren

Sunday, April 21, 2013

3 Minutes - Stream of consciousness

Started today in a grumpy mood, ending today in a better mood. Didn't get to sleep till late last night due to our dog barking outside my window. Although he's a small dog he has a big dog voice... and he really likes barking. Woke up to find my car gone because my brother had gone off to yoga with it. Disgruntlement. I didn't want him going anywhere today due to his being in an accident yesterday. Shouldn't he stay home and rest? An almost-concussed person should rest. That's what I thought anyway. Also not pleased with him driving the car too often - am desperately in need of a new car as the current one is falling apart on me. Ergh. The brother doesn't give a hoot about the car unless he needs to go somewhere... it annoys me greatly... shouldn't he help to take care of it if he's using it? *sigh* My dad annoyed me... to the point where I started thinking of moving out. He grumbles a lot about cleanliness and order and organisation but doesn't actually do much about it... expects others [me... since I'm the one he grumbles to...] to take care of whatever he grumbles about. Also talking about 'he's the boss' and 'his house' and such. I wish mom had left her half of the house to my brother and me...at least then I'd be sure of having a place to be. Not quite so sure anymore and that hurts a bit. Both my dad and brother are ready to pack up/give away/get rid of mom's stuff. I'm not ready yet. Grr. *sigh* Went out with the cute guy. He's responsible for the good mood... movie and group lime to celebrate the wedding anniversary of his friend. Hugs and kisses and he makes me laugh. Met an old classmate. Met her husband and young daughter who wanted to claim me. She was fascinated by my nail polish. Nail polish in 'cosmic blue'... I like it. 

Coming up to 3 minutes in 3, 2, 1... done. 


peace,

Ren  

Saturday, April 20, 2013

That moment when you wonder...

I'm not in a Final Destination movie, am I? 

I should have never watched that movie... and yes, I only looked at the first one. Horror movies are not my thing. The scenes stick in my head and pop into my mind at the most inopportune moments. 

Went to bed last night thinking that I'd get a full night's sleep. I haven't had that in... forever. My dad woke me up at 1:30-ish in the a.m. to tell me that my brother had gotten into a car accident. 

He'd gone out with his friends for the first time in a long time. On their way back home his friend went around a corner a bit too fast and ended up crashing into a post. Ergh. My brother and his friend are fine. Bumps and bruises and the possibility of a concussion (...am now wondering if the possibility of a concussion can be labelled as 'fine'). His friend feels horribly guilty... and the friend's car is now in great need of repairs. 

They're both okay. Praises be.

During those moments in between waking up to the news of him being in an accident and him arriving home with the wrecker... my dad and I were not okay... though perhaps to the outside world it would have seemed as though we were perfectly calm. We freak out on the inside. Mostly. 

I'd like to wrap everyone I know in bubble wrap. Be safe. I can't handle anything major happening to anyone I know right now. Unless it's something really fabulous. Exciting. Positive. Uplifting. Then I'll celebrate with you of course. 

But... nothing negative. 

I'm not sure what counts as negative since everything can be a positive learning experience. I guess I mean nothing harmful? I'm not sure exactly.

Oy. Am trying to breathe and be centred. It's been a long day.

peace,
Ren

Friday, April 19, 2013

Thinking about cleaning...

Spring cleaning?

I'm not very into cleaning. I go through periods where I try to clean room and house... it gets to a somewhat satisfactory state... and then it starts returning to how it was before. Bah humbug. Cleaning my room or at least getting it into a fairly neatened state is something I try to do before my birthday each year (and Divali... and Christmas... and random moments). I may not always succeed. Around this time last year I labelled it as the Quest for Total Room Domination. I will rule the stuff - the stuff will not rule me! Everything will be in its proper place! Mwahaha!

Am going to try to clean a bit of my room this weekend. Hopefully it goes well. 

I also think the Universe is pushing me into it. Was thinking to blog something different today and so I thought that I'd try a NaBloPoMo prompt. Today's prompt? 
"Which cleaning task do you enjoy the most? The least?"
Ergh. I don't even know.

Anyone wants to help me clean?

peace,
Ren

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Moving on...

Today, one of my oldest girl friends called to tell me that she'd dreamt my mom. We've been friends since we were seven, were told that we looked alike, have a lot of similar likes and dislikes and went to three different schools together. Since leaving school though, we haven't been in each other's company as often. Life has a way of carrying you along its own paths. We're still close though and no matter how many days or months or years pass between our meetings we always pick up just as we left off.

The morning after my mom passed I messaged her - she came over to my house with bagel, eggs and coffee (blessed coffee!) and stayed for a good portion of the day helping me figure out funeral stuff and the basics of what one does when a member of one's family passes away. She was there behind-the-scenes for the wake and the funeral and is still checking up on me. I am grateful for her being there.

She told me today that she'd dreamt my mom last night ... that in her dream my mom was happy and smiling and told her to tell me that she would always be with me. My brain was too fuzzed by that to ask for further details of her dream. I wish I remembered my dreams... after many times of complaining to my brother that I don't dream he told me that I did - I just didn't remember them. I don't think I've dreamt my mom though.

I do know that I think about her all the time.

Today was the final rites... after today, my brother will be doing offerings/prayer every day for a year, then we'll do a major one-year prayers and then that would cover all the requirements of Hindu funeral rites - as far as I know. After the rites today, it is believed that the soul begins its journey onwards... it is believed that from the time of death till today's rites the soul would have hung around on this earthly plane but that after today's rites it would journey onward. 

I know that whatever space she's in, she's free - of whatever trappings exist in our world. I can be happy about this... but, I still miss her presence. 

It's time though to start thinking of how to live without her physical presence... how to be connected to the essence of her. How to carry her with me throughout my life... to figure out what I want to do with my life. 

Time to start the process of moving on. 

I'm not sure yet that I want to.

peace,
Ren

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cat scratches, love bites and belly rubs

Our pets mourn us when we're gone.

My hand has tiny scratches and my knuckles were chewed on last night. The Cat has become clingy. Needy. He goes into my mom's room to look for her and then cries. We have been blessed with cats that are vocal... our previous cat had a very melodious voice, our current cat can carry on full conversations - changes in intonation that let us know his moods. He meows questioningly and then cries. Oy. I've been spending time with him... more play, more petting. We've told him that mom has passed and I think he understands in his own way. He is now keeping an eye on the three of us at home. My brother thinks that the Cat is concerned that another one of us may leave. I wonder if he'd been around to see my mom at the moment of her passing if he'd be less clingy.

Our Dog seems to be handling my mom's passing fairly well though I've noticed he's been eating less. He was present during the funeral rites at my home - sat quietly under a table and observed all that was happening. I've been trying to give him more belly rubs than usual. We've had him for the past almost-13 years and I know he and mom were close. Will have to keep an eye on him.

Send love to my entire family... we're all grieving in our own ways, human and animal alike.

peace,
Ren

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Walked into a bookstore...

...and came out with three (3) books. Books are one of my weaknesses. I love them and I love places where they are found. Bookstores? Yes, in fact I find book stores to be very calming... they are a comfort place. Library? Obviously. Especially older ones. Large ones. Libraries with some sort of history behind them. Bookmobiles? Definitely... and I wish Trinidad had more of those. Perhaps I should look into getting one of my own. 

Today was my first day back at work - it was... fairly uninteresting work-wise, a bit emotionally exhausting otherwise. It was the reason I found myself in the bookstore. I bought these three books: 


They each caught my eye while I was browsing the shelves. 

I've mentioned previously that one of my favourite books is by Richard Bach. I've always thought about getting other works that he's written but never managed to until today. Today I found "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" and knew that it was coming home with me. I confess that I've already read it out... my brother is going to be reading it soon. It talks about life and the quest for self-perfection. It's a really good book. 

Some weeks ago I came across the video of Randy Pausch's Last Lecture. A professor who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, Randy gave the lecture as a way to teach his children about life and living. Entitled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" - it spoke to me... but, I couldn't find the time to look at the video (though now I probably will be able to). When I saw the book that is based on this video I thought that I'd definitely be able to read the book... and that's why it came home with me. The video:


The last book I bought should have been bought *weeks* ago... but I didn't see it then. It seems as though it's a new book in the bookstore and so this is the time to buy it. I've only skimmed it thus far but it's essentially a realistic, practical, humorous approach to preparing for death. I'd have lent it to my mom who probably would not have read it since she was not into the practical side of preparing for her passing. I'd have lent it to the family that is now grumpy at us for reasons beyond my knowledge. I'd have read it because I believe in being prepared and knowing the practical side of things. Am somewhat horrified by that last line as it sounds like something my dad would say. Ergh. The mango does not fall far from the tree as my mom used to say. 

So. Yay! Books! What's your latest book purchase? Read anything interesting lately? If not, go out and browse your bookstore... or library.

peace,
Ren

Monday, April 15, 2013

Long day...

A moment of silence for those affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. Seriously world... I don't understand why there are people out there that would do that. I can understand having issues with stuff and protesting and trying to get your say. I can understand strong emotions and feelings. I can't understand hurting other people for an as-yet-unexplained reason. 

TriniLikeSalt, who I met at my very first tweetup and who also took my photo for his Thousand Faces project, lives in Boston. He and his family are fine but I'm now stalking his tumblr and twitter feeds to make sure all is well in his world... or as well as it could be. I know people who have family in Boston. I've almost made it to Boston but just couldn't get the time. 

My heart hurts for you Massachusetts. Sending positive vibes your way.  

I know there's a lot of stuff that happens in different parts of the world but... it always impacts more when you have a personal connection. Sending positive vibes to our world.

Today we had the shaving ceremony for my mom. In Trinidad and Tobago it takes place on the 10th day after the funeral... I'm assuming it would be the same elsewhere. Males go to a source of flowing water (river/sea) and do rituals (offerings and shaving and etc.). Females stay at the house of mourning and cook the favourite foods of the deceased - which in itself is a bit of ritual. I did not sleep well and woke up with a headache. Rituals and such start *early* - people were at my house by 6 a.m. I'm glad we're doing all the rituals though... the mother wanted her final rites to be done according to Hinduism and I think it's only right that we do them to the best of our ability.  

I am missing her presence... especially, I suppose, as I'm not feeling so fabulous. Tomorrow I go back out to work - took extended sick leave to be able to stay home this long. I am concerned about my brother as both my dad and I will be out of the house. I think thus far we've been handling her passing well but we've also been on the go... always had something to do since she's passed. Now everything is slowing down and we're all going to have to adjust. 

I've always known that I have no problems facing my own death... it is the death of my family members that will shake me. It is indeed a test to put all that I know into practice.     

peace,
Ren

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Offline due to technical difficulties


My cable and Internet service provider is currently experiencing  technical difficulties. There is an 'outage in my area' they say.

I'm not sure what my phone is picking up but I'm getting sporadic bursts of connectivity. My phone is magical!

I have a headache and I feel blue. It's not just mechanical stuff that can have technical difficulties.

I need chocolate.

peace,
Ren

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A bit of self-care

A very close friend of my family has arranged for us to get some wellness treatments today at the Blue Star's Healing and Wellness Centre. Massages for my dad and myself, a reflexology treatment for my brother. It is needed. We are grateful... and will probably be more so by the end of the day.

I mentioned previously that I need to remember that I must take care of myself. I think this period of time is showing me just how much attention I need to pay. I feel tired. I've been saying that awhile. My brother has said that I have more stamina than he does since I've been able to miss sleep a lot of nights while taking care of the mother and then going to work and functioning in a fairly normal fashion. That's all catching up to me though. 

My body is definitely feeling... run down. This is not how I want to be feeling as I approach my birthday. I'd much prefer to be lively. Must devise a plan that allows me to give attention to my spiritual, mental and physical health. It's all related. 

Starting today with a massage and maybe a bit of meditation. 

How do you take care? I could use some advice even if it turns out to be reminders of stuff that I've heard/learnt before. 

peace,
Ren 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Introspective today...

Quiet. Internal. Contemplative. 

There's been lots happening. I have been surrounded by a lot of people. I need a bit of space.

My card for today is the Hanged Man. I think it's appropriate.

  
How is your day today?

peace,
Ren

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ashes to ashes

This morning my dad and I are going to collect my mom's ashes. They are called 'cremains' which stands for 'cremated remains' - I find this somewhat amusing. It's an interesting word. 

This evening my family and I will be meeting at the Temple in the Sea to scatter the ashes. My brother says he's keeping some to scatter in Brasso. I'm contemplating keeping some... to have with me in my prayer space. 

I'm not sure yet. I'm also wondering what's going to happen to my ashes in the future. 

---

Did some searching online and found that there are many things that people do with their loved ones' remains. Apart from the usual keeping of ashes in an urn, in a cemetery plot or niche, or scattering ashes over land/sea/special place, Neatorama has compiled a list of the "10 weirdest things you can do with your ashes".  It's an interesting list - would you like your cremains made into a diamond? Diamonds are one of my birth stones (though I prefer other gemstones)... so, maybe? Then what? What would happen to the diamond that used to be my remains?! The other suggestion that I liked was to "melt and cut ashes into stained glass designs"... it sounds appealing - I'm all about the pretty. Stained glass is pretty. Hmm. 

More searching has led me to this awesome site that offers many options/ideas for one's ashes. Keep ashes in different types of urns -water urns, burial urns, discreet urns, biodegradable-become-a-tree urns! Incorporate ashes into jewellery, paintings, sculptures! Scatter ashes by air or water! 

Huh. I was feeling a bit blue at the beginning of this post but after seeing how many things one can do with ashes I feel much better. Perhaps it's the shopping aspect... or the fact that there are others out there who need ideas with what to do with cremains.  

---

I'm going to keep a bit of my mom's ashes. I'll figure out what I want to do with them in time. I know her Spirit is ever with me but, I also know there's going to be a time or two when I need something tangible around. A reminder that yes, her physical body is no longer here but She always will be.

All my love mama. 

peace,
Ren

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Remembering her through song...

Something people have not known about me till now: I like singing. Granted I prefer to sing in my car... when it's just me, myself and I... but, I do like singing, if there is singing happening I'll take part. I know songs from way back when my parents were teens, I know present-day songs, I know songs from different faiths - there are a lot of songs in the world. 

My mom also liked singing and, like me, knew all sorts of songs. I think most people will remember her for her devotional singing and chanting. She was always very moved by the music. She always moved to the music... I'm one that might sway a little bit, my mom was one that would clap and sway and be completely involved in the singing (my brother takes after her in that regard).

Ecstasy and liberation can be found through chanting and singing... just ask Meerabai.  

We've been holding nightly mini-satsangs... it's mostly chanting followed by meditation and is definitely something that my mom would approve of and would do for her friends who have passed. It makes me feel close to her... it helps with the current period of transitions we're all going through. 

Apart from the devotional songs though, I remember her love for Anne Murray and others... in the past few weeks I'd sit by her bedside and stream music - playlists of Anne Murray, Abba, the Beatles, Nana Mouskouri and others. God bless YouTube and technology. 

There are lots of songs in the world and they're all going to make me remember my mom. I'm fine with that - all of those memories are filled with happiness and love and in my mind's eye I can see her singing.


peace,
Ren

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Time's up.

I'm supposed to go back out to work today - am allowed three days of bereavement leave and my days are now up. I'm not sure who came up with this number but it's not limited to Trinidad and Tobago. Is three days supposed to be enough time to get out of mourning and into work mode? Flip a mental switch and one's mind is supposed to switch streams from funeral planning/ organising/  saying goodbye to one's relative to meetings/ report writing/ work work work. 

I find that somewhat amazing. 

I feel tired... have not yet caught up on rest. There's still a lot going on... we're having mini-satsangs each night until next Monday when another part of the funeral rites will take place. 

Three days of leave don't quite allow for anything besides the actual funeral. I'm contemplating  taking a major amount of time off - no pay? sick leave? I'm not sure yet but I do know that I need time. 

Am in the process of figuring it all out.

peace,
Ren

Monday, April 8, 2013

For those who weren't there... (warning: long post ahead)

Also for people who were there, for people who missed parts, for myself - in memoriam. 

There are two new dates for me to remember - April 3rd and April 6th. My mom passed away on April 3rd and was cremated on April 6th. I think my family - immediate family; mom, dad, brother and myself; all knew she was going to pass away this year... we just didn't know when. It was the not knowing that was most difficult. 

My mom was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996. She had a mastectomy, did both radiation and chemotherapy for a bit and all was well for a while. Then it reappeared in 2000, 2003, 2008, 2010 and 2011. Each time it did she would go through radiation, chemotherapy or both. She tried alternative therapies, natural healing, fruits and vegetables, juicing and cleanses. Through it all she was positive. Focused. Intent on not letting her life be ruled by her illness. Her spirit was indomitable. She was an example to all... and definitely to me. 

There were many hard times but at no time did I think she would pass until this year. This year I think her body couldn't be persuaded anymore. The spirit was willing, the flesh could only take so much. She became bedridden towards the end of January and remained that way till her passing. She was conscious till the end and as I wrote before, the word that best describes her passing is 'ease'. 

I think that word can also be used to describe the wakes and funeral services that were held. Perhaps it was because of a measure of grace that everything flowed smoothly. Hopefully, this grace will remain with us. 

She wanted her funeral to be done according to Hindu rites. I think it is the religion she was most drawn to. The rites were done at home - the funeral home brought the body and we had a private viewing before the funeral service started. We [my brother, dad and I] are lucky that our aunts are more involved in the Hindu faith than we are and so were able to guide us in what needed to be done. 

The pundit was one who had grown up with her... the son of a neighbour. I either like or do not like pundits depending on their service and how they perform the rites and rituals. I liked this one - he was very cognizant of the needs of our family I think. He explained what was happening for those persons who were at the funeral who were not of the Hindu faith (and those who were but weren't aware of all that goes on). It was simple and sweet. There was a hush in the air... that feeling that you get when you walk into a holy space, or have a private moment of reflection. 

We had the funeral service at the crematorium. I was impressed by the 'funeral coordinators' - never knew there was such a thing as a 'funeral coordinator' till this year. I had met with one earlier in the year when we started to suspect that this year might be it... laid the groundwork for what would be an awesome funeral. Can one describe a funeral as 'awesome'? I'm doing it now. 

I met with the funeral coordinator the two days between her passing and her funeral. There are a lot of details that must be taken care of and I'm glad that they helped with them. We were trying to arrange for live streaming of the service at the crematorium's chapel but it didn't work out. Everything else did - and for that I'm grateful. 

We are a timely family... I think that the funeral coordinators were grateful for that. Had to leave home after the funeral rites to get to the crematorium for 12:30 p.m. to have service and then cremate at 2:00 p.m. The cute guy was assigned to be at the crematorium in case we got stuck anywhere. We were on time... the entire day. I am taking a moment to feel smug about that. Yes, when everything goes as it is supposed to, I feel smug. I am an excellent planner. Mwahaha. (I should give some credit to my dad... and the aunts who are also excellent planners... but... mwahaha!)

The service was planned in a day. To be honest, I've not been to many funerals... and so I wasn't entirely sure what happens in a funeral service. Had to rely on memory and the assistance of the funeral coordinators to pull together a programme in a day... and then had to get persons to talk/perform on the day. 

My mom's best friend was the chairperson (is this the term used for a funeral service? perhaps 'Master of Ceremonies'? hmm). She's known my mom *forever* and by that I mean that she's known my mom since they were teenagers - they've been through a lot together. She was the most appropriate person I think. 

I said the opening prayer... I may have panicked... I'm sure my voice was shaky. I was emotional and generally do not like being in front of crowds of people. I choked on the English translation  cuz it started with "O Mother,...". Ah well. 

The Guru gave his blessings. He always speaks so well. His words capture more accurately what I'm thinking and feeling than my own words do. I wish I'd thought of recording what was said. He told the crowd that I have a blog. Eep. The Guru reads my blog. Eep!

My brother did the eulogy. I admit I was a bit worried about him doing that initially. I need to remember that the brother is now fully grown and in some ways more mature than I am. He was wonderful and meaningful and almost made me cry. Oy. He's been home with my mom for the past two years. I know he's had his own experiences with her. 

Shoeaholic sang. It was the first time I'd heard her sing... She sings for her church and has a group and has been in choirs and I'd never heard her sing before. On Friday I asked if she would and she said yes, I didn't ask what song and she didn't tell me and then at the funeral she sang this: 
She was awesome. That is all. I'm really happy that I asked her. Even better, I think *my dad* was happy that I'd asked. Whoa.

There were tributes - from my uncle, a close friend of my mom, a member of the youth group and her sister-in-law. Shared memories of good times, she was a wonderful sister, friend, mentor, person. In short, she loved and was loved. 

Another old friend of my mom's sang. He was one who had gone to school with her and is in the Ashram and has sang with her on many occasions. She loved his voice and so we asked him to sing. I wasn't sure about the song but my dad was. It's a song about the lover waiting for their beloved... it made everyone weepy... 
He also did the closing prayer and then sang background songs whilst people viewed the body before time for cremation.

A cremation is very final. Fire is cleansing. Purifying. Liberating. 

I think there's something slightly wrong with me that I'm also thinking that there's definitely no chance for her to become a zombie. This is one of my reasons for wanting to be cremated at the end of my life - no chance of becoming a zombie. 

I didn't want to see the attendants put the body in the fire. I don't like that part of cremations at all. I can see the body burning and feel all calm and peaceful - say my prayers for the soul moving on, but... the initial moment? *sigh* Cremation is very final. 

I made myself look. It was the one moment when I thought I'd dissolve. Letting go is much harder than I thought it would be. Seeing the body go up in flames helps with that somewhat - there's nothing physical to hold on to. Just her spirit with me now... and always I think.

A lot of people hugged me. I am not into hugs from people I barely know... or even people I do know. Close family and friends only. For the funeral though, I thought it was a way of ...holding space... for other persons who would be missing my mom in their own way. Hugs help people. I can handle people hugging me in such cases. I did. A lot of people hugged me. 

It was a good funeral as it was a good transition. 

After, my close family came back home... spent the evening reminiscing, ole talking, being together. 

It settled me. The funeral, rites and service - the rituals and speeches and sharing. I think these are done both for the one who has departed and for those who remain. 

Blessed be my mama - you lived a good life and will be remembered with love. 

peace,
Ren