What is left now, after my mother’s funeral and then followed by the cremation of her body is just fragments of reality and memory of her.
The following day, we went back to the crematorium to collect her bones and ashes. We have decided to keep some of the bones and scatter the rest down a river, in an orang asli village in a forest, named, Janda Baik (good widow).
My mother would have objected to keeping any dead person’s belongings or parts of their remains in the home of the living. We didn’t mind that ourselves. Infact, we find that keeping a small portion of her bones, which had been through an inferno, helps us remember her better. The portions in the bottle, is my mother’s new reality. Our memory of her past and her ‘presence’ in our house, create moments of awareness which gives access to a connection with her even tough she had gone.
My sister and her husband had also taken another small part of our motherâ€™s bones back to thier home as a treasured memory of our mother.
These broken pieces of her skull represent both the reality of our mother’s past and her present state of being, whatever form it may take. Memories, thoughts and perceptions will slowly fade in time; but how long will items like the burnt skull segments last in a bottle? How will my sonÂ remember his grandmother in 50 years time? What sort of memory will my son have of me and his mother when we are both gone?
Is this what life is all about, just fragments of reality and memory, in the end?
The food and drinks that was offered up to me, on the offering table, at the foot of my coffin, during the funeral wake at my house, was both intimate and magical; they connected me (wherever I may be and in whatever appropriate form I am in) with my family.
It was intimate because food and drinks are consumed and taken into our bodies, the fabric of our being – they become us and we become them. The act of offering it up to me to imbibe was an act of faith on my children’s part, and that’s the magical touch.
Their intention, although focused on the food as is understood in the physical world, has transformed it into some sort of power that could be received in other worlds as whatever it is that is wanted. So, in some way, our world mixes into their worlds and helps and sustains them.
In the last few years of my last life, I shared a house with my son and his family. We did not often sit down to eat the family meals together at home. Somehow, we each had our own taste and our taste was not shared by the others in the family as often as we would have like. What I miss most, from where I am now, is not being able to eat some meals with my son and his family. Perhaps in my next life, this issue about sharing food with people in the material world may be different – more intimate?
However, from where I am and in the form that I am in, the food and drinks that are offered to me reach me in a transformed state. This mysterious quality goes a long way to satisfy both the needs of the dead and the living. Let’s eat.