Lay Me To Rest

In light of recent events, I’ve unwillingly put a lot of thought into what becomes of me and my family, if I, too, had to untimingly part from the living realm.
No doubt sparked by my gloriously inappropriate mother asking, “What would you do if I died?”, and having just painfully dreamt that she actually did, I’ve decided to leave this here, an open letter – in my mental sanctuary, so that at no point, ever, will there be any question as to what is to be done, or any things left unsaid.
Formalities are always the first thing we have to get out of the way, so let’s do that.
I want a funeral. Having been newly exposed to the loss that is death in the past two years, I’ve come to thoroughly understand and appreciate the role of such a formality. A funeral gives one closure, even if not of cause, and it is undoubtedly a necessary step in the process of acceptance and healing. People cope and perceive loss in varying ways, and sometimes, are incapable of facing reality in the event of death until the stark pain of those, who cannot help but be anguished, smacks them right in the face. Seeing the grief of others triggers necessary grief for those suffering loss, and having been a person who throughout life has maintained that pain is beautifully cruel and must be felt at its harshest in order to for people to move forward healthily, I insist upon it.
For these reasons, I would like my casket to be left open. If you are going to see my death as a loss, see me in death, and grieve as you so rightfully deserve. Viewing a loved one’s lifeless, pale corspe is a brutal statement of reality. I want you to feel, if you’re going to feel, as much as you can, because you’ll only have that one opportunity to do so beside me. It may seem callous, but is for the best – for you.
Have my funeral in some remote location, if you can. Don’t have my funeral in a church. Despite a face-to-face encounter with a manifestation of a god, religious texts have always been lost on me. Don’t cheapen this – my funeral in a church would make me uncomfortable. Very uncomfortable. I mean this as no insult. I am simply not a Christian, and neither am I Tamil. I have spiritual beliefs, but they exist outside religious texts and practices. Erect a marque somewhere secluded and nice. Release some common white butterflies, and some papilio dardanus cenea ceneas. Let them suckle on whatever floral arrangements line the walls and the front, and let them rest on the arms of chairs. Let it be beautiful. My life has been a thing of beauty, because I see the beauty in everything and everyone – I hope that you see that in my passing too.
Wear white, please. Dark colours are absorbant, and give the impression of enclosing spaces. I, even as a person, am the very opposite. I exude my thoughts and feelings, and hopefully honest energy. If I could picture myself as a form, it would be an expansive one. So, wear white. White is expansive. White fills space. White is beautiful.
Down the centre pathway, if would be lovely if it were paved with coloured powder – like they use during Holi celebrations. If you walk away from my funeral multicolored and left with a bittersweet, yet remarkable memory, then I have left you with a message even in death. I want you to not care about your clothes and possessions – just your feelings and memories.
Do not preach or sing hymns at my funeral. Pay tributes. Grieve. Talk. Remember. Cry. Say goodbye. You can do all that you feel traditional or necessary at your house of mourning.
I am not going to say that many people would be heartbroken by my death, but I know that my family, most importantly, mean everything to me. My brother, estranged in his own special way, must know that even in distance and sometimes distaste, I have never forgotten being told to keep my eye on the ball as he tried to teach me cricket in the paved area beside our house in Woodstock. They say blood is thicker than water, but Brother we have both. Though not always easy, my respect for you has never waivered. Be there for your mother, because in my death, you’re all she has left, First-born. You’re her first true love – never doubt it, because even in your adulthood, she protects you.
My grandmother, dear me. You better not give up if I die before you. We’re all hanging on, hoping for the life of you that you live on, despite having people unforgivingly taken away from you. Granny, there isn’t a hall on earth big enough to facilitate those who will mourn you. They probably know about Aunty Mummy on Mars, your good heart is so renowned. I may not be the apple of your eye this year, and despite a shaky start, you’ve become more than just a grandmother because I’ve never needed grandmothering. I hope you see that I’ve tried to be your friend, and to be understanding of your eccentricities – whether it’s your OCD cleaning or love for YOU magazines. I’ll have had your back, for as long as I could have. Know that I am as proud of you as you are of me, for becoming the cheeky yet gentle woman you are today. I know it was hard.
J, you bigger me. I wish I could adequately tell you how much you mean to me. I always knew that we’d be good friends, even as a kid asking you about your Black Eyed Peas CD playing in your car and watching you gently observe and judge me for judging you. You can do no wrong, even when you do just about everything wrong. You’ve given me memories, comfort and a gloriously inappropriate, foot-in-mouthed shoulder. I can’t wait until you have kids. If I have kids before I pass, you better get close to them. Show them that no way is the right way and teach them to accept themselves and be self-aware. Tell them everything they should and probably already know, just as we did for each other.
T. Love yourself, because you can’t make people love you. We love you even when you try to push us away, and that’s the love that counts. You’re just damaged, not broken. Scars heal, you just have to stop picking at the scab. We’ll never give up on you. Don’t give up on yourself. Siblings fight, Cousin, and like I said, they forgive.
D, you are a giant, fun-loving teddybear and I wish I’d had more time with you, even now, still being alive. You are soft and emotive, and simple in family values and it’s wonderful. Your effort and attention has always meant solidarity, and whether it’s on Group 249999 or Cousins, you were instrumental in keeping us together. Stay strong. Stop elbowing girls in the face. I love you so much. Sit next to my mother at my funeral.
S. I hope you realise that you’re big brother, and not just to your brother. You’ve set many an example, whether or not you were trying. Don’t disappear. Don’t harden. Definitely have three more kids. When life calms and you’re stable in time, you’ll begin to see how proud you’ll have made your parents. Half a man is not a goal. As much of a man is a reality.
K. You are one of the biggest and most pleasant surprises to await me in this family. I have utmost respect for you, in your fatherhood and success. Your home is a reflection of such stature, and I have no hesitation in calling you a self-made man. Talk more. You’ve got a lot to offer, and you’ve a great laugh.
M. “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” You unsuspecting person, you. You’re so genuinely not-give-a-shit-ish, and fun without even trying. We’ve got some memories, you and I – from fake drowning in Bluff’s pool, to whatever the hell you were trying to achieve by rolling down that bank and making grass angels. Watching you open up has been a great thing to witness.
To my remaining uncles, I am eternally grateful for the role you have both played in my upbringing. Whether it was housing me through matric or single-handedly enabling my love for learning skills – albeit beadwork, DIY or writing, helping with my studies or offering me a microwave, you have both been the pleasantly easy-handed, appropriate father figures I didn’t even know I needed. Thank you for accepting and appreciating me as the oddity I am, and the same goes for your baby sister as she is. I hope you see through her coldness, because she’s always needed you three.
Mom. You know full well that I’d let ten angry coloured women strangle me before I let anything happen to you. Even as a child, in telling you about my father’s true nature, I always wanted to protect you. There is so much strength in that little, broken-boned frame. There is so much determination. Don’t ever forget who you are and what you’ve been through. Do not be stifled. Do not be broken, because your integrity is your most defining feature. Never belittle yourself. Your brothers may be self-made men, but you are also a self-made woman. The next time you sit in your office, Director, take comfort in that you’ve made it for yourself. You are no less respected. You are revered. Alienation is self-inflicted. Let go. Embrace you. I know that my death will destroy you, and for this reason, I hope I never die. But, if I do, I know you’ll do me justice. NO FLOWERS ON THE PAMPHLET.
When I die, tell my story, because know if you do, I’m sure as hell telling yours.

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