Guanyu wasn’t happy with being ignored so she only stayed for some time so people wouldn’t talk about her and then already left. Jing Yi didn’t even notice. He just continued holding the vigil, not speaking for a long time.
In this manner, several days passed. Soon, it was time for the funeral procession.
Jing Yi actually didn’t remember too much about how things had been when his father died since his mother had mostly handled things on her own and only made him join in for the things she deemed he needed to be a part of. And after that, he had left the capital city and only returned there a long time later.
Since then, he had hardly paid his respects at his father’s actual grave and rather done so in front of the memorial tablet his mother kept at home. In fact, he had only visited that grave for the first time after the funeral when he came back to the capital with Qiu Ling a decade ago. Still, now that his mother had to be buried, he had decided that she would be happiest if she could be buried next to his father.
That spot was quite a bit outside of the capital city because his mother had felt that his father wouldn’t be comfortable in a place that didn’t remind him of his true home. She wanted him to be somewhere that would remind him of his own village. With the trees nearby and maybe some fields, just things that had meant a lot to him when they were younger.
Jing Yi was sure that his mother held exactly the same sentiments. Even though she had always stayed in the city for him, he was sure that she very much would’ve liked to return to the village after she already lost his father.
He hadn’t been able to give her that but he could make sure that the two of them would be together at a place they would like at least in death. That was the least he should do.
He had already prepared everything for that so now, only the procession and the actual burial needed to take place. When it was about time, Jing Yi closed his eyes for a while and took a few deep breaths. Qiu Ling stood next to him waiting for when he was ready. Finally, the two of them stepped outside and the procession left from the house.
The Zhong family wasn’t big and even though Madam Zhong had worked in the teahouse for many years and gotten to know quite a few people, most of those had a status that made it impossible for them to join in. Thus, in the end, it was only Jing Yi and Qiu Ling, as well as Jing Yi’s uncle and aunt with Guanyu, and a few servants from his uncle’s house and the teahouse that followed in the wake of her coffin.
The procession left the capital city, some quiet sobs being able to be heard every now and then. On foot and with the coffin being carried in the front, it took them more than an hour to reach the place where his father was buried.
Jing Yi looked at the grave and the plaque behind it that were already erected there, feeling a pang of grief. He had really lost them both. Only now did it truly hit him.
He took a shaky breath. Just then, his hand was suddenly grasped from the side. He turned around and found Qiu Ling smiling at him slightly.
“It’s alright. I know you miss her.”
Jing Yi’s eyes unwittingly teared up and he nodded. Yes, he missed her. He missed her terribly. He couldn’t help but wish that they could have had just a year more or maybe even a day so he would be able to spend just a bit more time with her. But he also knew that it wouldn’t change anything. He would still be just as heartbroken over losing her like this.
Qiu Ling didn’t say anything else and the two of them just watched as the attendants put the coffin on the ground.
The servants that had followed them as guests paid their respects and then left to leave the family alone. Jing Yi took a deep breath. Now, it was time to lower the coffin into the ground. He stood next to the grave pit and watched the attendants loop the ropes around the lower side of the casket, finally lifting it up, carrying it over to the pit, and slowly lowering it down.
When he heard the coffin’s impact on the ground of the pit, he couldn’t help but feel faint. He leaned against Qiu Ling, closing his eyes for yet another moment. Jing Yi pulled himself together and then went up to present the two pieces of cloth as gifts. Taking another deep breath, he stepped back, once again holding onto Qiu Ling’s hand while he watched as the grave was slowly filled.
Seeing the coffin slowly fade from sight, there was once again that oppressive feeling in his chest. He could barely keep calm when it came time to worship the gods and store the grave goods. Tears gathered in his eyes when the inscription stones were lowered afterward and the grave finally filled completely.
It was done. She had really been buried. From now on, he could only visit her grave if he ever missed her.
Jing Yi turned to the side and burrowed into Qiu Ling’s arms, unable to take it any longer. He knew he shouldn’t be like this. As the presiding mourner, he should keep his bearing. But … he just couldn’t do it. He missed her too much.
Although he also loved his aunt and uncle, he was still quite distant from them. Losing his mother made him feel as if all ties he had had to this world were suddenly gone.