Yesterday afternoon I went to a funeral. I wasn’t sure if I should go or not. It was the wife of a former boss at work. I had never met his wife, nor his family, but he had always been fair (if at times gruff). I always guessed (right) that there was a warm heart beneath the rough exterior. And it seemed like the right thing to do.
It was a beautiful, simple and moving ceremony. I wished I had known her. She was a Japanese lady married to an Aussie, and I could only imagine how difficult the early days of relocating to distant Canberra must have been for her. I empathized as someone who themselves struggles with some aspects of being in a cross-cultural relationship, yet who has not needed to make such large compromises. Even living in Taiwan, the telephone and internet ensured I was never far from contacting loved ones.
Yet theirs was by all accounts a happy union, and he (and the rest of the family) will feel the void for some time to come.
I felt a bit like an impostor, crashing in on a very private moment. I found it hard to hold back tears. It seemed undignified to show grief when I was not a close friend or family member. But being there among people who grieved from a place of love touched me deeply.
After such a reflective moment, I was somewhat in a daze. I drove back towards work as if on autopilot. Somehow, it didn’t seem quite right after experiencing such depth of emotion to go straight into the hurried environment of blinking voicemail messages and emails. So on the way back, I took a detour to Canberra’s small yet serene Nara Park, and just sat in the autumn glory and contemplated the beauty and impermanence of life for a short while.
I wish I was a better photographer and could do justice the purity of the autumnal afternoon light glowing through the golden leaves. It was truly a magic moment: solemn, yet filled with the heavy grandeur of that majestic afternoon. Yet the falling leaves signaled that winter was near. Even from my simple photos snapped from my smartphone, you can see a hint of the spiritual moment in time that I experienced as I sat in this sacred place.
I felt so much joy in experiencing this beauty (isn’t Canberra so vibrant and alive in Autumn?). Yet I felt the solemn weight of acceptance that life (just like the seasons) is always in a constant state of change, of cycles of life and death, and of love and sorrow. Nothing stays the same, and I silently counted my blessings for my abundance, including my wonderful family.