Photos from funeral of Dita Subandriyo including family around casket, elder Subandriyo, the petal covered grave, Mary settling in for the duration, and the impromptu choir for the postlude.
25 August 2007 – Saturday
It was nice to sleep in my own bed and I really slept – until almost 6. Because we needed to leave soon after 7 for the Subandriyo funeral, we did not read from the Kitab Mormon. We will really need to read a lot on Sunday to get back on track.
I am writing this at just before 8 a.m. Although the funeral does not start until 11:00 people have been arriving here for hours because they have come from all across Java. By bus and train – often traveling from 12 to15 hours or more – they are arriving. Mary is practicing with the soloists and the choir until 9 when she will start playing the prelude program. For two hours there will be singing and she will play for most of it and all the funeral itself. It is actually an honor to be asked to do this.
As I was out taking some pictures of the tents and flowers, Elder Subandriyo came in on his motorcycle. He had to run home to get some music to play for the guests during the viewing and while Mary was practicing. I gave him our condolences and we shared a hug. Yesterday President Marchant mentioned that Elder S., because of his strong testimony, was doing well and knew that he would see his daughter again. But I would be surprised if, for at least some time, the radiant smile might be dimmed just a little.
I was greatly touched by the experience of attending the funerals today. The bodies were available for viewing at the front of the chapel and for hours people went by and looked and then met the families. The circumstances of their death, their caskets, the number of people who came to see them, and where they will be buried are far different, but they both shared the love of many members and of course they shared the promises of the gospel. Sister Subandriyo left a family of parents and three siblings. The brother left parents, an older brother, a wife and four children – one only 22 months old. One of the most touching parts for me was the family of the brother singing – there was only about 10 who sang but they sounded like a choir of angels. As they sang I noticed one of the young men in the choir could not help singing along. He looked and saw me watching and he put his hand over his heart and I indicated I understood completely.
Another high point was when Elder Subandriyo spoke. He talked about his daughter and the man who was a fellow ex-missionary of I would guess about the same age. He shared some advice he gave his daughter and the one that touched me was that if she was asked a question that she felt was contentious to try to avoid answering it, but ‘if you have to answer, answer with a soft voice.” I thought that was great counsel and something that I still have not learned to do.
After the funeral was over, the whole congregation came forward to see the bodies for one last time. While they were doing this Mary started playing postlude music. Sister Autin started to sing with her in English, she was soon joined by two of the sister missionaries, and then others joined in. I even joined in where I could. This went on for close to a half hour or until the caskets were finally closed and carried out. It added a nice touch to the funeral.
I should mention that Mary practiced with soloists and the choir for over and hour, then played prelude music, accompanied soloists and the choir for well over an hour before the funeral started, and played for almost all the songs that were sung during the funeral. So she certainly got her piano time in today.
We were only two cars behind the hearst and so we got to park somewhat near the grave site. There was a big canopy over the site but even with that it was boiling – especially for us in suits. Mary took one of the chairs so she did not have to stand. The grave was about 4 feet deep and there were a couple of boards to hold up the casket. The elders and her two brothers were pall bearers.
After a song, the grave was dedicated and a short talk. Then the sisters placed garlands of flowers over the casket before it was lowered into the grave with ropes. There is no vault so I would guess as the casket deteriorates the graves collapse. After the casket is lowered people throw handfuls of flower petals on it. Then the grave diggers start filling in the grave with their hoes. When it is filled and mounded, people file by and put more petals on the top so that when they are done there is a mound of petals. All in all it is a beautiful experience that I would have enjoyed more if the temperature was not quite so high. Sam mentioned that they held the funeral early so it would not be too hot. I can not imagine it being hotter.
We were lucky about where we parked so we could back out of the cemetery. The number of mourners and their vehicles meant that many had to park on the road. This of course caused a massive traffic jam which was made even worse by the vehicles in the cemetery coming out and blocking another lane. It probably backed up traffic for miles. I was just glad we did not have to experience this.
We came home and Mary immediately collapsed in bed. A few minutes later I came in to find her crying. She had not eaten any breakfast and so her body was rebelling for lack of food to a point where she was emotionally as well as physically exhausted. I got her a sandwich and some crackers and that solved the problem. She soon was able to fall asleep for a short but much needed nap.
After she woke we read from the Kitab Mormon – we had not read this morning. Then we ordered pizza. After it came I put on the penguin movie ‘Happy Feet.’ While Mary is watching that, I am trying to catch up some of this journal.
It is strange how exhausted we are tonight. I can somewhat understand Mary’s fatigue but I did nothing except a lot of sitting and standing. Perhaps it is emotional fatigue. What ever the cause, neither of us felt like reading more from the Kitab Mormon and by 9 we were both asleep.
How hard it must be to bury your child. To see so much of your hope – Elder Subandriyo had written a note to Dita that he had not sent saying that he was looking forward to her providing his first grandchild – and your dreams be covered with the red soil of Indonesia. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Her younger sister was not able to keep up her composer as well as her elder brothers and parents. She must have been very close to her sister – pictures of them together show two friends as well as sisters. Hopefully for all the family their great faith and testimony of the gospel will allow them to get through this by knowing that when they pass to the other side she will be there waiting to take them into her arms.