Goodbye Uncle It's the summer of 1998, but it's cold and cloudy when the funeral service begins. Monks from the Buddhist temple have arrived to perform the service, wearing orange robes and carrying drums and cymbals to chase away your spirit. (I hated them for doing that by the way. I wished you stayed for a while). Everyone besides the monks are wearing white robes with hoods, the Asian color of mourning. I know, it looks like we're from the KKK. Bamboo mats have been placed on the driveway for us to pray and say our respects, but I am confused about this. I'm only seven after all. At my mother's and grandmother's request, I sit with your wife - my aunt - on the bamboo mat. Her back is hunched and the hood is over her head, just like mine is and we're both kneeling. As the monks say a prayer, I look over at her confused. Her lips are pulled as taunt as violin strings, tears are flowing slowly down her cheek. Balled up in her hand is a piece of tissue that she's been using to dab away her tears. I can't remember if she's been crying for days, or if she's finally decided to let her tears flow. Either way, I feel an overwhelming sense of sadness and I fall back onto my heels and stay silent. Later everyone leaves to go to the cemetery to bury you. I'm forced to stay home because I'm sick and my family doesn't want me to get worse. I can't remember if I'm relieved by this decision, or if I'm angry. I know I'm still confused. I think Wil got to go though, but I've never asked him how it went. Too scared to. Di Bach Suc says everyone turned their backs on you as your casket was lowered into ground. "Why did you do that?" "It's to let him know it's okay for him to go. He shouldn't be staying in the living world when he's dead. If we look at him as he's lowered in the ground, his spirit will stay here." At night everyone is home and the monks light up candles around the front yard to say good bye to you. It's funny how humans use light to say good bye, isn't it Uncle? I'm not even sure if you can understand me... Dad doesn't speak English that well and I'm wondering if yours is any better. If I could write in Chinese or Vietnamese, I'd probably do so. This helps though, writing out what I remember. The service continues well past my bedtime and I'm getting tired. Grandma notices though and tucks me into her bed. I'm sleeping on Grandpa's side when I dream about running along a chain link fence with a green tarp on the other side. I'm chasing you, sprinting as fast as my little legs will take me, but as I get close, you stop and step through the fence and you're gone. You died of cancer. I didn't know it was that until years later when I brought it up to Grandma. She said it was cancer, but never elaborated on what type. I'm assuming it had to be brain cancer, or perhaps lung cancer. You started losing a lot of weight. Your normally round face started turning gaunt and you had frequent nose bleeds. Grandma hated it when you stuck pieces of tissue up your nose to get the blood. Your right eye started closing up and I knew it was because of the sickness. And even though you were ill my family continued fighting with each other. I don't know why, and I wished it would stop. I think it was because of the piling medical bills, assimilating into a new country, having kids to provide, and watching one of their own dying. Maybe that's why they fought. Di Bach Suc says he saw you in your car the day of the funeral service. I still remember what it looked like, gray and sleek like a dolphin, and I know you loved that thing. You used to go up to the Sierra Nevadas to vacation and I remember seeing you tie chains to the tires. There's a picture of you in your snow gear and I think you knew how to ski judging by the ski equipment. Di Bach Suc told me things surrounding your death that my family wouldn't. He doesn't like talking about it either, but he's told me more about your passing than my immediate family would. He remembers seeing you in the hospital bed a day or two before you died. He said your eyes were glazed and when you looked at the family, they weren't sure if you actually saw them. A nurse outside said, "Why do they keep coming here? They know he's going to die soon and there's no hope for him." Someone who understands English tells everyone, and my entire family loses their shit. Di Bach Suc also said my family might not have chosen the full chemotherapy treatment, and opted to supplement it with Chinese medicine. I hate Chinese medicine. I'm sorry if you still think it's beneficial, but it's rooted on superstition and I can't help but wonder if you might still be here if my family trusted science based medicine. Your legacy still survives though in both me and your daughter. I sometimes forget I have your genes too, since you and Dad are twins. Marcella's grown into a beautiful woman and she looks a lot like you. Actually she looks a lot like the rest of the girls in the Ip family. She has glasses too just like me and Jackie. Can you believe that? I wish she had grown up with us instead of living in San Francisco. I make sure to talk to her on Facebook and she seems to be doing well in school. She cries about you though... She was one when you passed away and doesn't remember much. I wish I could give her my memories of you, maybe that would console her. I'll be better about seeing your graves during Tomb Sweeping Day. James - he's my fiancé - didn't want to go last year because it fell on his birthday, and that was also the day his step father died. Over the years it's grown more bearable for my family to see you, although sometimes Marcella and my aunt don't always come. I'll be sure to invite both of them to my wedding though, and I'll be able to see Marcella all grown up. ... I don't believe in Heaven. Or at least, I would like to but my practical side says it can't exist. Once you're gone, you're gone. But I can't stop holding onto to this hope that something has to exist when we pass. So I guess what I'm saying is I hope that wherever you are you're watching us and know that I miss you, I love you, and I really hope you're happy and not suffering anymore.