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.