Tang 

Ba,

Sáng nay con ngồi khâu một miếng vải vuông nhỏ để tang Ba. Con biết mãnh tang này phải theo nghi lễ được thầy tụng kinh phát tang và con phải quỳ trước linh cữu của Ba mới nhận được rồi mang lên người. Nhưng vì hoàng cảnh nên con không làm theo nghi lễ được mà phải tự mình đan từng nốt chỉ đen vào mãnh vải đen. Con làm theo nguyện ước của riêng mình là nếu Ba hay Mẹ mất đi con sẽ đeo tang đen mỗi ngày trong vòng một năm. Và bây giờ Ba đã đi, Ba cho con mang tang Ba. 

Hôm nay Ba đã đi đến đâu rồi? Hôm kia Ba về trong giấc mơ của con có chút xíu. Con chưa nói gì được thì Ba vẫy tay chào rồi đi luôn. Con thấy Ba rất lịch lãm như thời trai trẻ. Con muốn Ba lúc nào cũng lịch lãm như ngày xưa đó. Nhìn Ba phong độ vậy chắc là Ba đang trở về thời thanh xuân ăn chơi đàn hát rồi. Nhưng nhớ đừng uống bia rựu nhiều như trước nữa nha. Bây giờ qua đó ráng giữ gìn sức khỏe. 

Thằng Khoa và con dâu của Ba mấy hôm nay ngày nào cũng nấu cho Ba ba bữa chay ăn với cà phê và trà. Ba nhớ ghé nhà nó vì nó thắp nhang cho Ba sáng chiều cho Ba ấm. Ba về phù hộ nó vì nó cũng rất đau đớn và hối hận như con khi biết Ba ra đi mà tụi con không về kịp để tang cho Ba. 

Con để tang Ba mà không dám nói cho Mẹ biết. Hai ông bà mai mốt có gặp nhau hội ngộ thì nhớ bỏ qua chuyện giận hờn ở cõi trần rồi nắm tay đi với nhau trong cõi vĩnh hằng. Nơi đó là miền hạnh phúc thì đừng giận nhau nữa phí thời gian. 

Sáng nay con ra vườn thắp cho Ba vài nén nhang. Trời âm u quá con đứng nhìn mây tìm ánh mặt trời nhưng không thấy gì. Con viết cho Ba mấy dòng để trãi lòng vậy thôi chứ con ít khóc lại rồi. Ba đừng lo mà cứ ăn nhàn với tuổi thanh xuân lịch lãm của Ba. 

Tang con mang cho Ba để ngày nào cũng trò chuyện với Ba như vầy mỗi khi con đeo mảnh tang nhỏ lên người. 

excerpt, a tribute #2

Taken on 9.18.2006 Ft. Lauderdale, FL. The last time we traveled together. It was probably the last time that I spent quality time with him.
It might sound fictitious writing this, but my father came to my dream last night. It was a blurry vision of him; he was in his early 20s donning a pair of black slacks and a white folded-sleeve dress shirt. That photo was in black and white, matte finishes, and taken at a photo studio back in the 60s.

It was probably on a rare occasion, as studio photo was out of reach for young people of his age and social status. In that photo, he was sitting on a folded ladder, a studio prop, body at a 45-degree angle camera right, and face turned towards the camera, left leg bended up and foot on the last step of the ladder, and the other dropped down bearing his weight. He looked relaxed, and happy, his eyes lit up behind the rimmed glasses. My dad was nearsighted at a very young age, and he once told me the cause of it was reading with light from kerosene lamp, when electricity was a luxury in his youth.

I wish mom didn’t have to act on her impulses raging anger for dad by destroying those photos. I would love to have these photos now.

In my dream, he just came and smile, then vanished. Perhaps his soul could only travel this far across the Pacific Ocean to see me, and then he has to transport back to Vietnam.

Wherever he or his soul is, I think of him all day.

Here is another excerpt that I wrote about my father on June 24, 2013, Being vulnerable.

On hot summer days like we had today, and during my summer break from college, Dad and I would trek through the neighborhood in his old jaded green Jeep to go fishing at Lake Calhoun. The boys refused to be his companions at that time, giving up the opportunities to be with Dad so that they could be with their friends, or girlfriends. I was a loner, and a homebody; he would ask me first before calling my siblings. Unless I had other reasons to not be home when he wanted to go fishing, I would always agree to be his buddy.

Continue reading “excerpt, a tribute #2”

a borrowed place

For dust become dust, we return to the beginning of where we came from.

My father’s body is being cremated as I am writing this post. Luckily, with modern technology and wi-fi, I was able to receive photos from my niece of my father’s funeral procession. Somehow these less-than-desirable quality photos become so precious to me; they make me feel closer to where he is, while being half the world apart. One of my unforgivable regrets was not being physically able to be there to đeo tang, wearing a strip of white cloth on my head and prostrate in front of his casket. This regret will consume me for a long time.

My aunt and a few cousins are doing đeo tang in place of my siblings and me.

There is one particular photo that will haunt me, perhaps for the rest of my life I will never take it out of my mind — It’s his lifeless body laying on the divan awaiting for the initial funeral procedure. This image will also consume me with guilt for a long time. (I am not posting this particular photo anywhere on social media.)

The cousins are keeping him company through the three-day-two-night funeral.

His body is taking the final trip on this earth before going to the crematory.

At the crematory; the final ceremony was performed while waiting for his ashes.

His death tablet and ashes will be brought back to a local Buddhist temple close to where my aunt currently lives. He will be comforted by the daily Buddhist chant and bells.

This is a hard post for me to write…

Mr. O and the boys took me to a nearby Buddhist Monastery earlier today. I made a donation in his name and prayed for him.

I don’t know the right way to grieve…(Is there a right way for it?) and just follow my intuition to mourn his death my own ways.

Ba đi thanh thản nha Ba!

excerpt, a tribute #1

I realized that I have written many posts about my father in this blog. In my own grieving space, I have great memories as well as regrets, most of it were of my resentment for him, which I am now trying to cope.

Today, in that one small teachable moment for my own personal development, I promise to my father that I will not hold any grudges to anyone anymore, and will make amends to those I felt estranged due to miscommunication or conflicts.

At least, my father’s departure has me reflected, and taught me a lesson about how I should be living.

An excerpt from December 9, 2015, when I was coping with a miscarriage. – The one to be saved.

Then last night I dreamed of my father, and he was on his deathbed with his last few breaths begging to be saved, but I could not save him at all. I found myself standing there in panic, and not knowing what to do in the order of what I learned in class. I was stumbling with my coordination, and trying my best but to no avail; he could not be saved. I cried so much in regrets for failing, that upon waking up I still had dampened tears on my face. What a vivid dream!

I don’t know if nature spirit is sending me a sign, or perhaps it’s just my own wild imagination while asleep. Either way, I hope he is doing well and healthy over there, and does not need the be saved the way he did in my dream.

This blog is my official virtual place of grieving, not Facebook.

Ba, 1940-2017

The day has arrived. It’s the day I found out that he passed away.

I feel so guilty.

These are a few last photos I had of him, which were taken on PP’s first birthday six years ago. Sadly, it was also the last time we saw each other.

Ba an nghỉ nha ba. Con xin lỗi ba!