The Funeral

our doves

Let me start with the day before the funeral.

This was the first time I was to see the body of my brother, David’s sweet wife Reina Arce Leddy since she passed away suddenly on July 2, 2009.  She was only 45 years old.

A private family viewing was scheduled at the Guam Memorial Park Chapel followed by a public viewing. This was done because of the public figure that Reina was on the island of Guam as the President of the Guam Chamber of Commerce. We held this the day before her funeral.

I accompanied my brother and his sister –in-law Joanne to the chapel.  Soon afterwards, the other family members arrived.  A short service was held and her casket was opened. We all wept openly. My brother, David, heartbroken, reached out to his wife in that casket and lovingly touched her and kissed her.   She was taken from us so fast when she was so young and vibrant.   I cannot write more about this sacred time with her except that it was poignant and a very special time for the family.

Later that evening we went to the nightly mass and rosary held at the Santa Teresita Church in the village of Mangilao.

On the day of the funeral, we went back to the Memorial Park. My brother Phillip and I joined six other male relatives of Reina to be pall bearers. A short service was held and then I had the privilege of carrying my sweet sister in law’s casket to the hearse.  It was white with gold fixtures, some adorned with images of the Last Supper.

We then followed the procession of cars behind the hearse with the police escort organized by my brother in law, Angelo Bueno (husband of my sister Michelle).  The hearse took a route that passed and paused briefly by Reina and David’s home.  They both designed that house together.

We then arrived at the Church and then we,the pallbearers,escorted the casket into its place before the altar.

Then there were a series of prayers  given and music pieces played while hundreds upon hundreds of people paid their last respects. It was non-stop from 9:00 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Greeting all these wonderful people from all walks of life who Reina has touched was humbling. She was a prominent leader in Guam. However, what stood out to me was how she personally touched these individuals.  The touching stories that were shared from people like the First Lady of Guam, the General of the Air Force Base and several Business Leaders were so beautiful. The young people who she touched with her music gave such nice praise for her . Her classmates who came to pay their respects from high school class Alma mater and the University of Guam shared similar sentiments.

The Church was filled with nearly a hundred flower arrangements, fitting tributes to this lady who was described as a “gentle woman of love.”

We received notice that she received recognition in the Congressional Record, A Resolution from the Guam Legislature and other accolades.

Before the mass was to commence, the casket and the final viewing of the family was held.  This was difficult again as tears were shed. Saying goodbye to such a loved sister was so hard.  We knew she was an angel.

My brother David, as his Eulogy to his sweetheart, sang the song, “Through the Eyes of Love.”  This was the theme song to their wedding.  Their marriage of 23 years personified what a marriage should be , two hearts joined together in as perfect union.  Now, in death, we saw this love expressed so deeply through my brother’s song.    The church was quiet except for a few tears; there was this sweet reverence for this moment for these two lovers…David and Reina.

The casket was closed and the Mass commenced.  The Catholic Archbishop of Guam personally conducted the service.  There was much music.  Various nieces and nephews participated in the presentation of the gifts. My brother Tim and Reina’s sister, Joanne gave the readings.  Reina’s niece Clarissa gave the Responsorial Psalm.  My mom and Reina’s mom participated in the offertory.

The sermon given by the parish priest was beautiful and he described Reina’s playing of the piano every 10:30 a.m. mass as being one of  the parishioners’ favorite parts of the service.  He said that she brought people to God through her music.

That was her gift bringing people together.  Even in her death she brought our family together. I returned to Guam after 18 years and my siblings and I were together for the first time in a long time.

After mass we escorted the casket out of the church to the hearse.   The funeral procession made its way to the gravesite under sunny skies. We arrived.  There were a lot of flowers there. Although most of the flowers were donated to the church.

The First Lady of Guam was at the site with her staff passing out water, fans and umbrellas.  Then we placed the casket on top of the belts that would lower it into the grave.  There was a final gravesite ceremony.

Then we placed flowers on the casket.  Slowly it was lowered and then the site was covered. Our Reina was buried.  Then, my brother, Reina’s mom and my mother participated in a ceremony where David let go of a Dove which flew into the sky, then my mom and Reina’s mom unloosed a basket where seven doves flew out and followed.

In our minds, our dear Reina, David’s sweetheart and wife,  soared into the eternities.

2 thoughts on “The Funeral

  1. Oh Jp, my heart is with you. I’m glad you got to Guam and your entire family was around you. I love you little bro, M. P.S. Your writing is very descriptive and in this case heart breaking.

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