For World Poetry Day, this post not only celebrates this day but marks an unfortunately sad occasion in my life that surrounds the date that I want to share with you: seven days after Mother’s Day, five days before my mum’s birthday, almost a month before the anniversary of her passing and less than a month before Qingming Festival (清明节 – literally “pure brightness festival” but known as “Tomb-Sweeping Festival”, “Chinese Memorial Day” and “Ancestor’s Day”). This small collection of poems includes two poems I previously wrote specifically for her funeral and the burial of her ashes, respectively, while two new ones mark the aforementioned dates, including one more specific to Qingming. I hope you like them.
亲爱的妈妈 (Dearest Mother)
亲爱的妈妈，你进了天堂， Qīn’ài de māma, nǐ jìnle tiāntáng, Dearest mother, you’ve now gone to heaven, 希望你能安息，我们永世不忘。 Xīwàng nǐ néng ānxī, wǒmen yǒngshì bùwàng. Hope you can now rest in peace, we will never forget you. 母范长存，音容宛在， Mǔfàn chángcún, yīnróng wǎnzài, Your legacy as a mother will always live on, your voice and beauty will always be around, 徒然的祈愿，知你不回来。 Túrán de qíyuàn, zhī nǐ bù huílái. I pray in vain, but know you’re not coming back. 你从天堂俯视，没日没夜， Nǐ cóng tiāntáng fǔshì, méirì méiyè, I know you’re looking down from heaven, all day and all night, 我们今日相聚，向遗体告别。 Wǒmen jīnrì xiāngjù, xiàng yítǐ gàobié. We gather here today, to say our final goodbyes. 一个贤妻良母，仁厚和美丽， Yīge xiánqī liángmû, rénhòu hé mêilì, You were a good wife and loving mother, honest, kind-hearted and beautiful, 亲爱的妈妈，我们都永远爱你。 Qīn’ài de māma, wǒmen dōu yǒngyuân ài nǐ. Dearest mother, we will always love you.
Eight months later
Eight months have gone but it hasn’t got any easier,
We still miss you every day.
We wish you were still here with us,
And today we’ve come together again to say goodbye and pray.
Finally you can be completely at rest,
Spending forever with your own mum and dad.
For that reason we can be happy for you,
Even if your absence from our lives makes us sad.
We know God is taking good care of you,
Just as you took good care of us.
You helped us a lot and taught us so much,
Everything you did and more was a big plus.
I wish I could hear your voice once more again,
Sometimes I want to call or message you but I know you won't reply.
I too often took your presence for granted,
But I did care and now the time to rectify that has gone by.
You were taken from us way too soon,
But it has made us cherish life so much more.
We know you’ll be still looking after us from above,
Until the day we are reunited at Heaven’s door.
You meant a lot to so many people throughout your lifetime,
A wonderful wife, mother, grandma, sister, auntie, daughter and friend.
Everybody you met liked you instantly,
Your kindness and generosity knew no end.
There is so much I wish I’d been able to say,
Such as thank you for everything and I love you.
You were a loving, caring and protective mum,
And someone we could all look up to.
Although we now enter our first Christmas and a new year without you,
We know your spirit will continue to be near.
We will raise a glass and think of you,
Wishing you could truly be here.
Letter to mum
Dear mum, I’m just writing to say, That I hope you’re still doing okay. It’s nearly a year since you’ve been gone, And we still sorely miss you nearly a year on. Not a day goes by without thinking of you, We often light a candle and say a little prayer too. This time of the year will always be hard, When I can’t be creative with a present and card. We hope you have used the joss paper offerings we made, You can buy new clothes to wear and pendants of jade. You’re happy and comfortable up there I’d like to think, Especially if you’ve got enough of your Aloe Vera drink. It’s sad to think there’s some things you’ll never get to see, Like my new house or your granddaughters going to uni. But we know you’ll always be looking down on us, Still showering us with love and making a big fuss.
© Choon Young Tan/陈俊扬, 2020-2021