I have been to countless American funerals through the years... No issues whatsoever. I think something inside of me is either broken, or not tuned in correctly anymore.
I had the honor today to attend a very close Thai friend's mother's funeral. I knew of his mom and had met her a couple of times, but we were not close. I do however, love him like a brother. The fact of the matter is, I am a little fucked in the head from working in Afghanistan for 6 years. It has a tendency to do that to people. You get used to living in your little cage and you know what to look for in order to spot something that is out of place. Of course people shoot at you and you get the occasional suicide bomber on base or ground attack yadda yadda yadda. I have been back in the city now for a little over a year and still cannot unscrew some of the little things (Another blog another time)
So I'm standing outside of the building at Wat Chai and up walks my friend. I literally watched his eyes going from being ok to being filled with instant sorrow the second that he saw me. We were very close before and have not seen each other for about 4 months. He also did not know that I knew what was going on. So up he walks, no words were spoken just that long embrace of two people who understand and are on the same emotional level at that moment in time. We finish the hug and he keeps saying thank you.
After about 15 to 20 minutes of catching up, they do the ceremony for the wake where you go in and over the pool of water is the deceased's hand and you pour a water on the hand to say your goodbyes is what I took away from it. I didn't feel like I belonged. I wasn't completely sure what was going on with me but I knew if I went inside of that room I would fall apart and I had a feeling that his family would look at me weird (what the hell is the Farang crying about). So as everyone went inside, outside I stayed. When your best Thai friend (who doesn't speak a lick of English) looks at you and says "Paul, please" with his outstretched hand, what can you do. I went inside and let myself fall apart.
To my surprise however, when I walked out into the light from the building I was not met with awkward glances... I was met with looks of acceptance and understanding. Nobody knew me, the only white person at the funeral from before except my friend, yet everyone looked at me with the eyes of family. I have never felt more respected in my entire life, honestly. It was the most spiritual and amazing experience. I could not bring myself to go back to the second ceremony today. One day of that kind of sadness over someone that I barely knew is enough.
I did however promise that I would attend the burning tomorrow... I'm sure that will kick me right in the feels too..