My Uncle Bombin is being buried on Halloween morning. Not a great message for a holiday that’s supposed to be filled with costumes and trick or treating. Rather than prepping the Captain Blackheart costume I bought, I’m rummaging through my closet to find a black dress that spells out M-O-U-R-N-I-N-G.
When a person dies in a Filipino family, it’s not a one day ordeal. It’s a week long feast where all the Old Asian People come out from the woodwork, ignoring the resentments they have toward each other. The day after the person dies, we start praying the rosary. This conspicuous jewelry with a cross in the middle is quite important. We don’t pray to Jesus, but we pray to Mary to help the soul of the person who died get into heaven.* Prayer lasts around twenty to thirty minutes depending how slowly or quickly the five prayer leaders speak. When I was younger, I thought saying the rosary was boring because it was repetitive, but now I think it’s soothing and meditative.
Then after the rosary comes the FOOD! This part is my favorite because I like to eat, much to the chagrin of my old world, critical, mother who often likes to say I’m gaining weight. This week my family has brought Turon (basically sweet egg rolls with fruit in them), Pansit (Filipino version of Chinese noodles), Valenciana (Filipino version of the Spanish rice dish Paella), and Arroz Caldo (Filipino chicken porridge). Then there were other fast food staples such as pizza (the various chains such as Dominos©, Little Caesar©) and El Pollo Loco©.
Along with the food comes the social gathering and catching up. My family and I make rounds kissing each other on the cheeks and attempting to explain what we’re doing with our life.
Tomorrow will be bittersweet. It was hard to watch my Uncle Bombin’s last days because he was the shell of the fun loving, hard drinking, uncle I knew. At least he’s at peace now. The comforting part is I get to reminisce with his sons, and the rest of my extended family.
*To be clear, we are NOT worshiping Mary, but asking her to help our loved one.