Life has a way of throwing things your way unexpectedly, especially when it comes to saying goodbyes to your loved ones.
Life has a way of throwing things your way unexpectedly, especially when it comes to saying goodbyes to your loved ones. This year, I’ve learned to value the time that I spend with my loved ones because I never imagined losing someone I loved at such a young age. The news of my uncle’s death shocked me to the core, and it came to me at three in the morning when my mother’s broken cries woke me up to deliver the saddening news. He was forty-seven years old, with a hardworking and loving wife and two beautiful children. Living in the deep side of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, he made his living by working on the rice paddy field and side works available throughout the year. He was in charged of the family’s external wellbeing, while his wife was in charge of household work. He passed away in a tragic car accident, and his death shocked all of us.
As our family in Vietnam gathered his belongings and preparations for his funeral, my mother and I watched helplessly on the other side of the world. We tried our best to hold each other close, but the pain of not being able to grief properly tore my heart apart. After several weeks of coming to peace with the accident, I kept remembering his voice, his smiling face, and his kindness. I never came to peace with him being gone, I kept wanting to ask about him even though I can clearly recall seeing his body through my phone.
I came back to Vietnam about two months after the funeral, and I immediately felt a huge gap in our family. It wasn’t until I saw his altar with my own eyes that I finally accepted that he was gone. I looked at my cousin who is the same age as me but years older mentally since she must have had to grow up quicker in the past couple months. I looked at my little cousin who is in the third grade, a young boy having to grow up without a father figure. I saw his widowed wife who tried so hard to cover the pain in her eyes, but through her words, I could tell that she misses him dearly.
As if my heart breaks again for the second time…
Little by little, I heard the stories of his passing from my cousins, aunts, and uncles. My grandmother, greatly saddened by his death, her eyes are more cloudy since the last time I saw her. I finally had the time to sit and feel the sadness among with my family. I felt my heart breaks again for the second time. I tried so hard to hold back my tears, the tears that I never got to cry, but quite honestly, I don’t want to cry in front of my family.
My first night in our house was difficult. Buddhist chants were played at his altar, and I could hear it from my room. It was a reminder that he was really gone, and I kept remembering his kind voice and I could still feel his presence. As a vow in my heart, I vowed that I would take care of his young son as best as I could. Growing up without a father figure is going to be tough on a young boy, and I felt like he may not be fully aware of what it means for his dad to pass away.
He was a good man, and I hope to continue his own legacy through his only son.
Moving forward, my mind is constantly on a replay of his loving voice. I realized that it wasn’t only me who was preserving pieces of his presence, his brothers and co-workers miss seeing his figure out on the rice paddy field. It may be his blessings that this year harvest is a success, sadly he was no longer there to be a part of the joy. In place are sadness and longings for this nightmare to be over with.
The wound is still fresh, and I know time will make it easier to continue on living. He was a good man, and I hope to continue his own legacy through his only son. As for now, I can finally be a part of this grief along with my family. And when I say “I miss him”, another person can finally say “I miss him as well”.
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