Wednesday, January 19, 2011

This entry was written by Linda Cassell about our last few days in the village.

We stayed in Piak and Ghing's village Sunday night. Ghing's sister has a piece of property with 4 cottages so all eleven of us were able to stay there. (Tony's parents arrived Sunday morning just after we left the crematorium and had picked up Soraya's ashes so now our little entourage was complete.)  

We went to the temple in Piak and Ghing's village where the monks performed one last ceremony. The sala, which was dedicated to Soraya sits on the temple ground. The piece of fabric signed by their Capoeira friends is stretched out inside the sala forming the ceiling.  The Bhutanese prayer flag signed by many Backroads friends in Berkeley flutters in the wind next to the sala.  

That night was an amazing evening that started with a huge meal consisting of many of Soraya's favorite foods and the dishes they had prepared for her and Emily their last night in the village a week ago.  And toasted her with Chang beer and a big bottle of Duty Free Jack Daniels.  We sent Soraya up into the sky with 33 sky lanterns with the final lantern showering us with fireworks and her ashes.  We all felt we could hear her laughing with delight.  We woke the next morning to a beautiful sunrise in the village. We all inhaled the soft quiet morning. 

After a delicious breakfast of eggs steamed in banana leaves prepared by Ghing's wife, we went for a bike ride.  It was another amazing and emotional day.  But had much lightness in it as well. The process of death here is so real yet so gentle.

We recreated one of Soraya's last day's. We all rode bikes from Piak's home (the Backroads Thai 'warehouse') to the temple where Soraya's ashes will stay until Tony brings them home.  After saying good morning to Soraya we rode to  the Ganesha Museum, which Soraya and Emily visited just last week. It was so great to have both sets of parents riding through the countryside. Especially Amina riding on the back of Tony's pink cruiser.  We all laughed and soaked in the fresh air, sunshine and vibrant green of the rice paddies. Simply wonderful. Then we slurped down big steaming bowls of duck noodle soup - one of Soraya's favorite meals. Tony's forehead dripped with sweat from all the chilies he added to his bowl!   

We don't know if we'll ever be able to fully capture this past week in words.  Being here, and experiencing what we experienced has been absolutely amazing.  It's been comforting, uplifting, incredibly sad, beautiful, a celebration, with every emotion being called upon.  We wish everyone could have been here because it has helped so much in accepting what has happened. The way Buddhism approaches death, and processes death, is so beautiful. It allows one to have a conversation with the deceased.  It's very private and powerful. We truly think Soraya is in a safe, good place.  And we feel that we all helped her on that journey.    


I apologize for adding so few pictures - the bandwidth here makes it difficult to get pictures up in a timely fashion, so I'm going to find somewhere else to post those so people can see more.  

Thanks for all the positive messages.  We hope that reading this has been helpful to some of you and that we have been able to communicate the beautiful, gracious, and courageous spirit of Soraya's parents, Tony, and her Thai family.  


Peter said...

Another big thanks to Linden and Emily for the blog as the words and pictures do really help us here in the States share in the loss and find comfort in the ceremony and joy in the support that you and the Thai community are able provide to Ted, Amina, and Tony and to each other. On Monday our family walked many miles on Limantour Beach in Pt Reyes National Seashore, a favorite place of SusSu's and her Opa -Ted's and my father. The setting sun lit up the bluffs in Drakes Bay as we said our blessing to SuSu and as walked back, multiple rays of light streamed below a fog bank, reminding us that SuSu has found her peace as we struggle to comprehend what has happened.

moe said...

Thank you so much for keeping us posted and help us accompany you in some way through these past few days.
I am one of many who will miss Soraya deeply. I knew her as a little girl when she was my student at the French School and again when she came back as a sub as a young women. We always had a special connection as she was a so wise for such a young women.
My heart goes out to all who loved her so much and especially to Tony, Amina and Ted.

Lorraine Bader said...

Thank you for creating the blog so that we could have an idea of what was happening. Since I learned of Soraya's passing from Linden, I have been keeping her, Tony and her parents in my heart and prayers. I met Soaya only once, walking by our house with Tony, and was touched by her friendliness and beautiful smile.
Linden and Emily, you have been such wonderful friends and support to Tony and the family. I admire all of you for your courage and spirit.

Dolores said...

I was so saddened to learn of Soraya's death - she was a dear friend of my daughter Jenny who also died almost 4 years ago - at that time Soraya wrote of beautiful memories with Jen that I still treasure. I too believe their spirit lives on and now picture them together again laughing and cycling in a wonderful sunny place. My most heartfelt condolences to Soraya's parents and family - losing a child is a pain like no other. May God bless you.
Dolores Forster

Karen Vorster said...

I deeply appreciate being part of Soraya's amazing extended family and sharing in this transcending experience. Oh Soraya we will miss you! Thank you Ted and Amina for bringing us Soraya and being such incredible parents. Thank you Tony for sharing such a beautiful and powerful partnership with Soraya; and Thank You Soraya for being you! You brought happiness and a sense of delight to the world around you that we can always carry with us. Tony, as you commence with your life ahead of you, remember you are surrounded by amazing friendships and family that want to help your heart heal. I wish you laughter, love, good health and fulfillment on the journey ahead. Ted and Amina, you shared with us a shining star. Let's revel in the memories of her sparkling personality. I hope experiencing Soraya's world as you have over these past days opens new doors of friendship and new found joy as well as comfort and peace.

kittymcd said...

I have put off writing anything here because I haven’t been able to, and I haven’t wanted to… I just don’t get it. I don’t understand. I can bang my head against the wall all I want, shed tears upon tears, laugh hysterically at funny memories, and yet I don’t think I’ll ever to come to grips with this. I miss you SoSoMatli- we all miss you. All this time I thought you were crazy (in the best possible way), and I’m beginning to realize that you were the smartest one of all. The thing about Soraya is that she was always herself. She was a star that shone so bright, and I know she will continue to be… I just wish I could feel her and see her. I still hear her. “Let’s go for a hike and then we’ll start prep day. After we get coffee treats. After we stop at the art fair. Why do have to have prep day today?! BORING! Geez!”. She was never timid, she wore her heart on her sleeve and you didn’t have to know her well to feel her spark. If you got to work with her, you became joined at the hip. She could easily talk about anything, from the history of Vietnam to the mountains of Chamonix, to the best facial moisturizer for bags under your eyes, to poop. And she was so complimentary, always talking you up in front of guests- or just to you- to the point where it was almost embarrassing… but underneath, we all knew who the star really was: Soraya.

Planning a day off with her was just as funnily maddening as planning logistics of a Backroads trip, and yet she always nailed it. It didn’t matter whether you were working or not-- a day with Soraya was always a fun-filled adventure, with multiple and changeable plans and several food & coffee/tea stops, perhaps finished off with spicy Thai food and drinks. To so many outlandish stories, you would hear the comment, “Only Soraya!”. And it’s so true. Only her. I can still see her sitting on the edge of the bed, ready to go and so excited when she saw the slightest indication that I was waking up- so we could go tackle the day. Only Soraya. While Soraya literally could jump into each day, I found myself hitting snooze again and again, begging for 5 more minutes of sleep. Now I’m scratching my head, wanting to learn how to approach each day like her. I remember her in our tent on a camping trip, as we were settling into our sleeping bags, finding snack after snack in her duffle (when we aren’t supposed to keep anything with a scent inside the tent because of bears), along with all sorts of shampoo and face cream, and being overjoyed at finding a sachet of Douglas fir needles that made her “whole bag smell like Christmas!”. Only Soraya.

Right after Jenny died, she was at a hiring event in Tuscany and she wrote me that it felt like people just thought Jenny had gone on a long trip, so she thought that would be a better way to talk about her: just tell everyone Jenny had gone to Djibouti to teach English. Well SoSo, I hope you and Jenny are hamming it up in Djibouti together. I can’t even imagine the havoc you’ll wreak, and I know Djibouti will be so much better for it.
~"Kittra MaGoo"