Monday, September 24, 2012

Taiwan Travelogue: Day 1 - It Can't Rain All Of The Time.

There was silence as my mom, dad, brother, Diana and I walked into late grandmothers condo in Taipei. We greeted our aunts, uncles and cousins quietly and then stood there. One of my aunts, broke the silences "come on, talk to each other." With that the room relaxed, smiles came to people's faces and we began to talk.

After a settling in we did a prayer ceremony and presented a meal of my grandmothers favorite foods in front of a picture if her. We stayed in the condo for a little longer to let her spirit enjoy the food.

Then we went to the hospital where my grandmothers body was being kept and did another prayer ceremony. Again, there was a muted energy. It was like we all wanted to laugh and enjoy each others company but we felt a need to hold together a feeling of reference. While the prayers were serious before and after different people reconnected, shared stories and laughed.

Afterwards lunch at one of our families favorite restaurants the smiles came were no longer held back and the laughter was let loose. It was liked we all stopped trying so hard to act "proper" and revel in the joy of sharing an incredible meal with each other and being together for the first time in over a decade.

After lunch, my mom finally seemed to exhale. She had been in Taipei for almost a week before Diana and I had arrived.  In the grief of her mom passing hadn't really eaten well. I don't if it was the food or the family that caused to her to finally eat but that lunch was the first real meal she had in Taiwan.

After lunch, we split up and my immediate family hit the hotel bar and then the mall.  Diana has small feet which makes shoe shopping in America difficult, but in Taiwan she has more average sized feet so instead of there being a couples of shoes that fit in a store like in America, everything in the store fit Diana.

We got back together as a family for a magnificent traditional Chinese dinner all twenty-one of us sat around a huge table experiencing a meal, full of toasts, amazing food and lots of laughter.

What are you suppose to do when you grieve? How do you act around your loved ones? I'm not sure any of us knew. We were all trying to do the right thing. In the middle of dinner it all started make sense. Grieving for the death of grandmother was about living in the moment, being present and enjoying life.

Today was a reminder of why we grieve. There is no joy, no comfort that is like spending time with family. When someone in a family leaves, we need to be serious and respectful, but we also need to live life to honor the joy that person continues to bring to our lives.

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