Almost a year ago today


I’m back in DC now, working remotely (one of few perks they gave me at work) so I can spend more time with the boy. Coincidentally, my mom, brother, uncle and family, and my aunt from vietnam are all here too. They wanted to come because my aunt really wanted to see the white house. It just all happened to coordinate with being the nearly 1yr mark of my Dad’s death. Us Asians usually gather together and eat and memorialize the dead on anniversaries.

We went early this morning to Arlington cemetery after picking up a really nice fall bouquet at a local florist. The mom n pop florist was super friendly and sweet and awesome (Exotica Florists for those in the DC area) and whipped up something beautiful, unique, and not too pricey. She also expressed her condolences, which kind of made me want to mist a little bit.

The cemetery was packed with people–lots of funerals going on–I think a general was being buried and there was some story about 12 guys wanting to be buried together (?) Anyway, all the commotion was occurring right around my dad’s grave. Like 2 steps away from it. The whole 9 yards–military band, etc. Press and photographers also surrounded the outskirts.

NG and I gingerly creeped through the crowds. While it was awkward, it was also my dad. Who were they to tell me I couldn’t pay my respects. We laid the bouquet on my Dad’s grave and waited for my mom, brother, and extended family to arrive. Thankfully, the huge conglomeration of people left shortly after, so we were able to have some peace and quiet.

My relatives brought incense with them, so we had a small buddhist ceremony there, and then, in true Asian fashion, we stood around taking pictures (Asians and their pictures). But it was a nice day, reminded me of a year ago when the weather was starting to turn cooler and the leaves were just starting to fall off the trees and swirl around in the streets.

It wasn’t overly emotional for me, since this was my second time seeing my dad’s name on a tombstone. The first time I was kind of gulping and sobbing. But this time, I felt more relaxed and at peace. I thought of my dad enjoying this day, enjoying watching all the pomp and ceremony around his grave, and just enjoying us all being together.

Afterwards, we clusterfucked for a while (another Asian tradition) and then went to eat Pho.

We are going to get together tonight for a large family dinner at a korean/japanese place that NG chose.

And when everyone is gone, NG and I are going to go shopping for Halloween stuff to decorate my dad’s grave in Happy Halloween style. I want to find a plastic hand that I can stick in the ground to make it look like someone is reaching out from the grave. I know it’s totally morbid, but at the same time, Halloween was my dad’s favorite time of year. Is it weird that I think its a totally cool thing to do?

Still…I can’t believe its nearly been a year. It seems as if no time has passed at all. He seems both so close to me still and so far.

I received an email from a friend this week telling me that her dad just passed away last week. It was devastating news to hear–both because I was extremely sad for her (it came as a shock to her) and because it made me remember all the emotions I felt when my dad died. It’s weird it happened almost at the same time, a year apart.

This is what I wrote to her. It was pretty hard to write, especially at work:

Hey BB,

I just got an email from C today, and I was completely shocked and extremely sad to hear the news of your dad’s passing. Even having been through losing my dad almost a year ago, I find that there really are no words to express or address both the love and sadness and grief you must be feeling.

My dad’s health had been failing for a long time, but like yours, he was doing better and had been happier and better than he had been in a long while. Even knowing that, I always saw my dad as someone who would always be there for me and who was superhuman. No matter how strong and prepared I thought I was and am, I don’t think I will ever be prepared for death, especially when it’s my dad.

I don’t know if there’s ever an answer as to why, but I had some comfort in knowing that I was lucky enough to have a dad who was always there for me, who loved me, who loved his family, who was a good and kind person. I don’t know your dad, but you will always be a part of him, and he will always be a part of you, and from what I know of you, your dad must have been pretty amazing.

Initially, after my dad passed away, I was freaked out that I’d forget everything about him, but as time has passed I know that will never be the case. There are so many things that I’ve remembered or thought of or done this past year that has reminded me that I am truly my father’s daughter. And while it is a small comfort, it is something that can never be erased.

I read one of the greatest ways to remember someone is to live life in tribute to them. I thought it was completely cheesy at first when I read that, but then the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I take the good and silly and imperfect and special things that was my dad, and apply them to my life, and somehow it feels as if he never left.

I know you are surrounded by friends and family that love you, so I know you’ll be *ok.* Probably not awesome for a long long time, but okay. I ate a lot of chili and rented a lot of netflix right after my dad died, so if you are up for it, maybe we can do just that. Altho I don’t really make good chili, so maybe it will have to be shredded pork tacos. Let me know, and I’m there.

Alright lady, take care of yourself.

Thinking of you and your family,

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