a friend of mine posted about First Trip to the Cemetery where he asked “When was your first visit to a cemetery? When was your most painful? Do really believe that Jesus conquered death’s victory?”

i started typing a comment to that blog post and decided that there’s too much to type in a little box. hence, my own blog became useful.

there were visits to the cemetery to my grandpa’s and my great grandma’s graves once a year around Easter time. i did not know them and not much about them either, so i did not really realize what are we doing (and no one really explained… or maybe i don’t remember).  i’ve only been to three funerals, two of which were my grandma and aunt. the third one was mom’s mother-in-law.

i don’t remember my grandma’s funeral clearly. she died a couple of days before and that morning kept flashing through my mind for some time… the day she died was a bright Sunday. mom was already in her Church, which started earlier. i got up, dressed up for the Church, and was having breakfast when the phone rang. it was my aunt who said that grandma didn’t feel good…

i went to Church with a heavy heart. on one hand, i tried to enjoy the time at Church, but i ended up standing silent listening to everyone else sing and let the thoughts wander… we weren’t even through our worship time when our missionary Bob Skinner tip-toed to the front bench where i was and called me. i followed him out of the sanctuary and into his car.

“did she die?” he just drove on. i looked out the window, feeling numb. Bob got a call and i heard him say “she passed away just a few minutes ago.” that was when i learned the meaning of the words – i did not know before then what “pass away” meant (i mean, an english phrase)… even though i wasn’t sure what the phrase meant, i could guess.

when we came to the hospital, which already seemed quite familiar to me since grandma spent almost two years there, i came into her room and stared at the empty bed.

she was gone. for good. i sat down on a chair that was in the room, and stared, unaware what happened around me. i did not cry, i just stared.

lots of people came to the funeral. i hung in the shadows, not really comprehending what happened. she looked as if she were asleep, so peaceful and almost with a hint of a smile on her lips. everyone was saying that it was a great loss but i couldn’t help but think of where she was and, more importantly, with Whom she was… but smiling or rejoicing didn’t really fit into the scene, so i kept my feelings and thoughts within me.

a year and a couple of days later, my aunt passed away. it was more confusing than grandma’s death because her struggle before she died was great. the pain was staggering and morphine did not always help. mom was tired, Natasha, her daughter, couldn’t bear to watch it, and i just was confused about the whole thing.

it was my first day of university. mom was spending a night at Luba’s and i was home alone. as i was getting ready to leave home, phone rang. “Luba has passed away at 3AM.” it was mom’s flat voice, completely devoid of all emotions. i swallowed… “already?”

the funeral was once again fuzzy. just like to my grandma’s funeral, a lot of people came to say good-bye to my aunt. and i once again was the observer. feelings and emotions came later. back then i was just watching. mom and my cousin Natasha were devastated.

my cousin sometimes mentions that she dreams of Luba or grandma and usually they are not doing good. in my dreams, they are doing great. most of the times when i see grandma, i briefly wonder how come she’s alive when i saw her die. sometimes she dies and rises in the dream, and goes on being a grandma i knew most of my life. i don’t see Luba as much, but whenever i do, she is the same as she was – loud, funny, and smart. when i wake up, i remember that they indeed are alive… more alive than me or mom or anyone on earth… really living. makes me smile on their behalf and feel sad for myself because they are not here and i am not there.

i am not sure how will i handle funerals of people close to me now that i am older, but i hope that i will always keep in mind that this is not it. and when one day it will be my own funeral, i sure hope people will be rejoicing for me. for those who know me will know that i am where i was destined to be.

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