Earlier this week I attended a funeral — virtually. With the global pandemic that is currently spreading, large gatherings are not permitted, this includes weddings, birthdays, and especially funerals.
My grandmother passed away last weekend. She lived in Vancouver, where my father grew up. She immigrated to Vancouver with my grandfather in the early 60s from Hong Kong. My grandparents had five children, my father being the youngest. I am the youngest of 11 grandkids. The last one to be accepted into University, her greatest goal and her proudest accomplishment. I’m glad she was alive to see that.
If this was a normal year, we would fly out to attend, to be there for my family, and to comfort my grandfather; but these are unprecedented times. There are very few domestic flights, and we would need to self isolate for two weeks when we landed, before we could see any of my relatives.
My grandmothers funeral was permitted to have 15 people attend. A gathering of 15 people is considered quite a large number during these times. Especially at a time when police are pulling people over and ID’ing them to make sure they reside in the same household, to prevent further socialization. Everyone who attended the funeral was required to wear a mask and the church pews were organized so that every other row had one person sitting on the left end and the other person sitting on the right end.
This image was jarring to watch, especially while sitting on my couch at home. Living rooms were made for groups of people to gather, hang out, and watch movies and shows together; not funerals. Sitting in my living room, made the funeral seem so distant and cold. I felt like an outsider looking in, like I was watching something I shouldn’t be watching. The image of my cousins in masks, standing around my grandmas coffin, was something out of an apocalyptic movie. It almost didn’t feel real.
I am lucky that my grandmother even got a funeral, at a time when bodies are being stored in refrigerator trucks in New York. Lucky that my grandmother had tons of family and friends that live streamed into her funeral even if they weren’t allowed to be there, or unable to attend. At a time when most of us aren’t so lucky, I’m glad my grandma got to be a little lucky amongst a lot of chaos.