Day 10: A Week For the Dead

7 days of ceremonies. A lifetime of memories.

Someone passed away in a building near mine. Stepping out onto the cobblestone path on my way to the university, huge discs lined the far wall of the courtyard. These tree-sized platters were crafted out of soft, white feathers and multicolored ornaments that hung on thin thread. About 15 were propped up on the side of the building.

Yuan Yuan explained that this was a kind of ceremony. She never said funeral, even though I am certain she knows that word. “One of the two Happy Events in a life. The first is marriage, and the second is death.”

The family and close friends to the deceased dress in white robes and kneel on a strip of read cloth, which forms two parallel lines. During this particular ceremony, the robed figures bowed their heads towards each other in memorial as others danced and dined.

“7 days for an adult,” Yuan Yuan informed me. “2 days for child.”

I tore my eyes away from the event to look up at my mother, silently asking why.

“An adult lives a full life. Their ceremony is filled with joy and happy recollection. When a child dies, it gets too sad. It is no longer a happy event for the parents. So it is done quickly.” Her smile dropped as she spoke, but her eyes remained fixed on the small shrine that had been placed by the apartment door. “At the end of the seven days of celebration, the body is cremated. For a child, it is done after two.”

Every night for the next week, a group will gather below my window to celebrate the life of this woman that I have never met. A happy event, but taxing on loved ones.

I figured that if twenty people could spend a week celebrating a friend, then I could dedicate a blog post. No, we never met, and we never will, but these people are incredible.

There’s no way to describe even the feeling of walking down a street here. Everything has depth, everything has history, everything is celebrated.

(Don’t forget to water my orchids, mom).


3 thoughts on “Day 10: A Week For the Dead

  1. Beautiful post. Lost in its deep meaning – I truly did forget that it is “Thirsty Thursday” for your orchids… They are soaking up their life sustaining ice cubes as I type. – mom


  2. That is the most beautiful post yet. You make us all feel differently about so many things. Thanks sweetie, Grandma D


  3. Another lovely, thoughtful essay, this one deep and spiritual. You do keep us readers on our toes as we see China’s wonders through your eyes. Thank you! Grandma Betsey


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