Most things are the same, the service is the same except the English speakers aren’t speaking again except me. We have moved from the temple to the cemetery. Last night at the temple she wasn’t there only a picture of her, today her body is here. I couldn’t find her SWE pin but Stephanie was able to find a large B-2 pin. I asked is he was willing to lose this to the ages and she said yes. So when I went up to say good to my wife I pinned it on her dress, I also put in the fake money from the 99 Ranch, her frog travel pillow, a B-2 toy, her get well cards from her Northrop family. Thankfully Veena was with me to help me get through this.
After the service we moved into the crematorium and we said goodbye for the last time. Yolanda put her arm around me and made sure I would be ok. I may feel alone, but I know I’m not.
This is that beginning of the end for my wife. Tonight we celebrate her live and help her start her path into the afterlife. We are at Wat Thai of Los Angeles. It is a pretty simple service for a Thai Buddhist, just like she would have wanted. She was never one for fancy things.
Most of the service is in Thai and the prayers are chanted in Sanskrit. So I have no idea what is going on. This is a good thing for me since they omit me from any of the ceremony, which is fine.
The main part in English is our cousin Ann she talks about my wife’s life and then she repeats her entire speech in Thai for the Thai speakers. After she finishes Yolanda, one of my wife’s coworkers talks about my wife in a way most of us didn’t know.
Then it is my time to thank everyone for coming and to offer the food the family has prepared for the guests. I start off with thanking all the people from Northrop Grumman. Then I make a joke asking for a job when I’m done. I think where ever she is she is smiling at that. (I hope)
Tomorrow is another day except that day is the day I need to say goodbye
Most stories have a happy beginning. Mine did back in 1994 I was a young kid in high school and I met someone who quickly became a good friend and then we started dating the same day OJ ran. She put up with me while I was in the navy for 4 years and we moved in together when I got out and we went to college together. We had our rough patches but at the end of the day we were together. We eventually got married because I needed insurance and she needed a tax cut.
After some time I couldn’t find a teaching job in Southern California she pushed me to go back to school and start studying programming. She thought that I could do well at it. She was right, she always was right. At the SWE national conference in Houston I met Dr. Bev Watford of Virginia Tech and she talked me into applying and I did. I was accepted and I found myself moving across the country to go back to school while my wife would stay in Los Angeles.
My first semester at Tech my mom passed away from cancer. She had been fighting for four years but she was too tired to fight on and she gave up. I don’t blame her I doubt I would be strong enough to fight that long.
After my mom died I went back to Blacksburg and my wife was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. It has spread to her lungs. She told me to stay at school because “if something happens to me, you need to be able to take care of yourself.” She was right. It stayed in the back of my mind that I thought I had more time with her, but I was wrong. On January 5, 2016 she stopped breathing, she died in the hospital bed as I stood next to her.
I am alone. Not really, her cousin who was more like a sister to her was there. As soon as I called her mom her entire family came. I told my dad and all the feeling he had from my mom and my wife hit him. I told him to stay home I know he wanted to be there for his youngest son, but he needed to take care of himself at that moment.
Any time anyone asked me about our relationship, I simply said, she is my best friend… even now she still is.