This will be my last post on Don’s memorial Website. However, the Website itself will remain live. You will still be able to come on it and view the past posts, photos, and comments. But, one year has passed, and now it is time to look to the future, instead of hanging on to what I cannot change. Acceptance of death happens on our own time and it can happen even years from now. But it can only happen, if we allow it. So rather than looking backwards, I choose now to look ahead; though always with Don near my heart. To those who contact me via this Website, I’ll still be here and I will always reply to you. I just won’t post any more stories or photos going forward. There is nothing left to say. The memories will speak for themselves.
Sherry (Don’s sister) looks towards her brother’s grave. “Death is final. From one year to eternity, it is permanent. No amount of hours, days, weeks, or months of wishing and pleading while on the side of my brother’s grave will change the fact that he is physically gone. But as long as I live, he too will live, through me.”
-Sherry Viray (Don’s sister)
* * * * *
Don’s one year death anniversary has come and passed. On the afternoon of Friday, April 19, 2013, we remembered and honored Don with a grave site vigil. Sherry (Don’s sister) conducted the vigil, which had a letter reading, plus a couple of poems that were written for him were also read, a few words for Don were shared by the attendees, and it ended with a balloon release ceremony with our messages to Don tapped on. A song was also supposed to be sung, but sometimes emotions can get to the best of us. The vigil was a casual, solemn moment of reflection of Don life and eventual death.
True to form, half of Don’s family members came at the usual “Hawaii time” – an hour late. But thankfully there were those that showed up on time and were able to participate in the actual vigil. We were blessed to see that aside from our family there were also friends and members of Don’s unit/company that showed up.
After the vigil most of us stayed to “talk stories,” until we were kicked out of the cemetery when it closed. And those that stayed behind were treated to red velvet, white-chocolate cookies and taro-based mochi rice cake, which finally arrived with the late relatives. They were all eaten, by the way.
Maybe I wasn’t completely in the right frame of mind, but I thought I took a lot of photos. Turns out, I was just the photographer for other people’s cameras. And in the end, I only had a few taken on my own camera. I’m sorry to the many others whose photo I did not take. We thank you for attending. Here are the few photos that I did take with my own camera.
The Hawaiian flower wreath we bought for Don’s one year death anniversary. Don’s urn, containing a later found body part (we received most of him in the Spring, but received this one in the Summer). We wanted all of Don to be in one place for his vigil. So, we brought it along to his grave site. Leo (Don’s dad) looks at Don’s grave and urn.
Katherine (Don’s friend), Joy (Don’s girlfriend), Jaclyn (Don’s friend’s wife), and Irish (Don’s previous girlfriend).
This photo was taken a few weeks prior, but Samuel (in white) was also at the Don’s one year death anniversary vigil. He was one of many guests whose photos were not taken during the event. Sherry (Don’s sister) appears here, too.
The eldest member of Don’s family in Hawaii sits next to the grave of her grandson. The photo of Don seen here was placed inside the frame given to us by Anna Workman, the mother of Chris (another American hero that died with Don)
The poem Sherry (Don’s sister) complied for the balloon release:
“We are gathered here today
in a very special way.
We’re sending our
messages to Heaven.
To Don, who we’ve lost.
Letting him know he’s still in our hearts,
even though our paths will never again cross.
So now the time has come,
to release this balloon to the sky,
and up to our departed loved one,
waiting and watching from up high.”
* * * * *
The Grave Site the Day After the Vigil:
Many people brought flowers and leis. Someone even left Don a bottle of Blue Moon beer. So the day after the vigil, we cleaned up the grave site a little, and put flowers in vases, but took home the potted plants as they will assuredly be thrown away by cemetery caretakers.
To the person or people who laid two extra large American flags next to his headstone, we thank you for honoring our American hero. However, we want to tell you that the flags will be thrown away by cemetery caretakers, eventually. It’s against their many rules as it is way too big. But we’ve tried to blend them in with the other flowers so that they are not too conspicuous and hopefully, they’ll still be up for as long as possible.
Less than one percent of the United States total population serves in the military, and less than one percent of that one percent actually dies in the combat theater. We are the unlucky few – the survivors – of a terrible loss. Now we must learn to live with it.
Thank you for all the support.
Don will always be here, at his final resting place.
He’s waiting for you to visit him.
If you want to say something to Don or just want to leave a few words for his family, then please do leave a comment. This Website will remain live for as long as possible. You can comment as many times as you want as well as read the other comments people left behind. After which, we will print all the comments, and keep it with Don’s other memorabilia forever. Also note that the first post with 110 comments is full and can not accept anymore; please comment on the other posts.
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