Thank you to everyone who sent us and all of Viet’s family your thoughts, prayers, and support last week. Viet arrived in time to say goodbye to his father. Surrounded by all of his immediate family, his dad left this world peacefully last Tuesday evening.
I’ve thought a lot over the past few days about what to share here. It may seem funny that I would be thinking of such a thing during this time of mourning, but I have always tried to share my sorrows, challenges, and joys in this space. This though is so much more, so different, so bigger than me and anything that I could ever write here.
I’ve spent the last week exactly where I needed to be–completely disconnected from the world– honoring the life of a great man.
I don’t know how I can even begin to share with you in a way that feels worthy enough or powerful enough to honor his memory.
Although the past week has been one of the hardest I’ve experienced, with it has come the reminder of all the love around us. I feel so much love. Love for my husband’s father. Love for my mother-in-law. Love for all my sister and brother-in-laws. For our nieces and nephews. This is a great and precious life, and family is at the heart of it.
I’m also feeling so lucky to be married to my husband and to have joined his loving, loyal family. I feel so grateful to have known his father, and so grateful to his father for raising him to be the brave and incredible man that he is.
But even that tells you nothing of Viet’s father, and the best way that I can think of to honor him is to share with you Viet’s eulogy.
— Delivered on Saturday, September 21st —
“On Tuesday, September 17th, at 10:18pm, my father passed away.
His heart beat for the last time, and he was suddenly gone to us.
Over the last few days, we’ve been praying for him, lifting him up to God.
But before we lay his body to rest,
I’d like to take a few minutes to remember him.
i remember the last time i spoke with him.
the two of us sitting in our living room.
“how’s work” he asked
“it’s okay. it’s been pretty busy”
“it’s good that you’re keeping busy”
“how’s your garden?” i asked him.
“the squash is starting to grow. and i’ve just planted the (su hao) for
our conversations often trailed off like this. everything we ever needed
to say to each other, we already had, almost telepathically.
but i sat there with him for another 15-20 minutes. silent.
in his presence, in that calm,
i knew that everything was right.
i remember his face, his eyes — so expressive.
he was a man of few words but could speak volumes without ever saying
i remember the few times that face ever showed a hint of anger
— and also how quickly it melted away —
to leave only kindness once again.
i remember cold mornings when he would wipe off the frosted car
windshield with his sleeve,
and how he would sit on his hand while driving us to school to try to warm
i remember every evening —
him locking the garage door with scraps of 2×4’s to keep our home safe.
i remember him at the dining table —
each day after everybody else had already finished eating.
him sitting by himself, with a simple meal of rice, a piece of fish, a bit
i remember him in the evenings — before his nightly prayers.
sitting quietly in the family room by himself —
in the soft light of the family fish tank.
not doing anything. just sitting.
after a long day of work,
doing everything that had been called of him,
he had earned his peace.
i remember his garden.
those who knew my father knew of his garden.
his garden full of fruits and vegetables:
persimmon, bananas, lettuces, squash, peppers, (su hao).
i remember him working his garden.
in his slippers. and his hat.
he would till the soil with a shovel for hours
so that his crops would have a rich, nurturing home.
i remember him hanging up lattices and trellises.
and up these trellises – vines would stretch to form a canopy above our home.
and from these vines would spring his squash, his (muop),
and cucumbers – that our family would have with nearly every meal.
it was a very impressive garden.
but as impressive as it was, he did not flaunt or showcase it.
people who know him
know my father does not have a single boastful bone in his body.
and with as much work as he devoted to his garden,
his fruits, his vegetables — were available to anybody who asked
he never hesitated to give them away
without ever pausing to wait for a word of thanks.
he was a man who understood, he knew –
that a person’s worth was not what he had –
what he could buy or possess.
but what he made with his own hands –
what he brought into this world –
to share with others.
that life is not what you reap,
but what you sow.
i visited my father’s garden the morning after he passed.
the ground was soft, wet.
the su hao was healthy.
there was a big squash hanging from the vined canopy.
and in one section of the garden,
a row of fresh saplings had just broken through the soil.
he had taken great care, and his garden stood a testament to his work.
and like his garden,
to his family he devoted the same quiet dedicated service.
he did not dictate or demand. never raised his voice in anger.
neither pulled from above. nor pushed from below.
he merely made sure there was always light.
and that the path was clear to grow towards it.
to his children — he tended gently, daily, tirelessly.
tilling the soil.
hanging the trellises.
life is what you sow.
and by any measure of a life, he lived a great one.
his words, his kindness, his quiet strength —
has touched every person here.
and in his seven children –
with their families and fourteen grandchildren –
he leaves behind a rich testament, a bountiful yield for years, generations
so today, after his 86 years of faithful service, we lay my father to rest.
he has done his work, everything that was called of him, and has earned his
This man that I married. I love this man so much. I am so proud of him. He is so filled with character, and he carries so much of his father within him. He lives in him. I hope some day our children read this so they will have a glimpse of their grandfather and the great life he sowed.
Thanks in advance for your patience and support as we slowly find our way in the coming days and weeks. I’m not sure exactly how things will be around here at NML, but I promise to be around as much as I can even if it’s not in the ways that I planned.
Thanks again for all the love. There are no words.