The stroke was unexpected and sudden. His wife rushed him to the hospital after he vomited all over himself. As he lay in the hospital waiting treatment, he drifted into a coma. He was a hemophiliac. Did I know? No I did not.
Those are the words I remember at the wake I went to yesterday of a friend I knew since I was a child. He passed away this past Friday because the stroke severed an important communique in the brain. The part that tells your brain when to eat and breathe.
He lay in a coma for two months then on Friday when is body gave out he passed.
My friend is Chinese. I had never been to a Chinese wake. Upon entering I could hear the Amitoufo chant. If you are not familiar with this Buddha, he is the Buddha of Light and Life. He comes for you and brings you to the Pure Land when you pass. The wake is very much like Christian wakes but if you were Chinese you were asked to light incense and bow three times. Those who were non-Chinese where told where to walk to view the body. The family rolled paper tubes with silver and gold on it and threw them into a small fire furnace. This was to release his spirit into the great beyond.
As I walked up to the casket, he was unrecognizable. All the plumpness had evaporated into thin leather skin. The make up helped make him look like he was sleeping. But not really. He lay in a beautiful coffin in mahogany red and he was in an impeccable suit and tie. Of course the coffin was in the customary half open from the hips up and closed from the hips down. Much like a flat dutch door. An easel with a picture of him healthy and casual. He was always casual. This was the first time I saw him dressed up.
The eulogy was said by a Chinese officiant and a born again Christian man who my friend worked with. The words were of how he was always helping people, volunteered at 9/11, would go out of his way for his friends, and loved his wife and two small children. He worked at the same job for twenty seven years. The tears were endless. His father and mother, sisters and brother, nieces and nephews, wife, children, in laws, friends were openly sad. Me included.
I took notice that there were fifty three funeral arrangements. I have never seen so many flowers at a wake. How wonderful to be remembered in such a fond way.
We were closer when we were younger but over the years we would run into each other here and there and give updates about how our lives were going. I ran into him at the grocery store about a month before the stroke. I was meant to see him one last time without knowing I would never see him again.
I feel so lucky to know someone for such an incredible amount of years. And be a part of his life. Most people I meet come and go quickly and there is not enough time to be comfortable. With him I was comfortable.
After the eulogy most of the crowd walked into the lobby to eat some Chinese pastries with coffee and tea. We went from one board to another looking at his life from childhood to fatherhood.
It is my belief that when you die your spirit has to become acclimated to its new form so you stick around for a while. That has been my experience with loved ones who pass away. They stick around and then become less and less dense when they are ready.
As I looked at his pictures there he was in spirit right next to me. Smiling and happy and plump with life that he was so richly remembered. I know I will always remember him. And how in his short life he used goodness and kindness towards others in remarkable ways to make a difference.
I am inspired to do the same. Thank you for the reminder that life is very short and to do the best you can. Thanks for being in my life.
That is an incredible way to be remembered.
Amitoufo, buddy. RIP