Blog Written & Illustrated by Tawn Le

Posts tagged death
Re-Imagining My Life After Dad's Death

It’s been quite a crazy and wonderful journey for me on this Adult Gap Year. By the time you read this, I’d be nearing my 8-month mark. If you’re new and haven’t followed my story, here’s a brief outline of how things transpired within the last few months.

Recap of my Gap Year

  • July 2018 | Left in NYC

  • August 2018 | Solo Travelled Europe (Post 1/2 and Post 2/2)

  • September 2018 | Back to Texas - Dad hospitalized due to medication side effects

  • October 2018 | Travelled around Texas & Mexico City

  • November 2018 | Went to Vietnam to Visit Family then Crazy Rich Asian’d Singapore with Friends

  • December 2018 | NYC to Rest, Reflect, & Prepare for Part 2 (Non-Travel Edition) of my Adult Gap Year

  • January 2019 | Travelled to South Africa

  • February 2019 | Back to Texas & with my Dad Before He Passed

  • March 2019 | Started Reiki Practice and became a Practitioner at MINKA Brooklyn & Re-Imagining the Future

Re-Imagining with Fresh Perspectives

Before leaving Amazon, I didn’t know how everything would eventually unfold for me, and I’m grateful for how each experience and story eventually prepared and led me forward. This year has taught me to really lean in to what I’m already doing, and to trust that it’s the right thing. It’s helped me to trust my own instinct and intuition in terms of not having all the answers but having enough emotional clarity to continue.

Do I worry and get anxiety sometimes? Of course, it’s a natural response of protection and self-preservation, but like many things in my life, I’m now a bit better at how I observe, understand, manage, and adapt if need be.

Being with my Dad in the last moments of his life made me realize how quick and impactful life can be. The last few days before we knew he would pass, I asked him if he was ready to go, and he answered with a firm nod. He was ready and even knew the exact day he would transition.

I’m grateful that I spent the last few days sleeping in the hospital room with him, seeing him smile in satisfaction after carefully feeding him ice-chips, turning YouTube Buddhist mantras up on full volume, and cleaning & moisturizing his face on Lunar New Year with a special towelette I picked out for the big day.

As I got ready to head back to NYC the day after New Year, I prayed to our ancestors. I asked that if it was truly his time to go, to help him transition, and if it wasn’t, then to help him through his recovery. After the prayers were done, I drove to the hospital to say goodbye without knowing it would be the last one.

When I landed in NYC, and turned on my phone, my Mom’s text message appeared: Your Father has died! Your Father has died!

I couldn’t cry. I went into shock, then quickly into logistics mode to figure out how to get back to Dallas because that’s just how I deal with things at first.

I’m grateful for having siblings like my brother and sister - from the moment we all got back, we immediately started all funeral planning and execution. We were a team (lol, we also used Asana as our project management tool), and we were executing things the way Dad wanted, and I hope he’s proud. Being there together gave us time to focus and honor his life while at the same time set him up for the next part of his life.

My Dad’s Funeral was a reminder of how he lived. While he lived a pretty solitude life within the last few decades, what he’s done for people in terms of liberation will last for lifetimes to come. The outpouring of love from all over the world was a reflection of his life, and I felt so honored to be his daughter and be able to witness someone who lived purposefully with an anchored belief in human freedom.

About a month afterwards, I eventually returned to NYC, and started to work on small projects that I created for myself. My NYC family has welcomed me back with open arms, and I’m excited to move on with life and do things that I’m passionate and excited about. All the goals that I’ve set for myself at the beginning of the year are well on its way.

It’s been pretty scary, I’m not going to lie. There are days where I’m manically working on so many things because I’m scared that I will eventually have to return to the corporate world to make money. But at the end of the day, it’s my own ego and pride that I need to work through because NYC is the hub of so many different jobs - who gives a shit what I do as long as I’m not hurting myself and/or others AND I have time to work on things that I love and enjoy.

One thing that I’ve learned from Dad’s passing is that life’s too short, do what makes you feel alive, and do it with purpose & intention.

And that’s where I’m at in my journey, friends. My world is once again re-imagined, and it’s pretty damn cool.

Eulogy to my Dad - Luc Trong Le

This past weekend my Dad’s funeral took place in Arlington, Texas and I had the honor of being able to deliver a eulogy for my Dad. I’ll probably write a bit more later in my blog about me processing things, but I just wanted to share a little bit about my Dad and also the gift that he gave to me through the eulogy I wrote.

An understanding of life, mindfully and truly living, and an appreciation and excitement for the end of our lives were the gifts that I was able to receive and I hope that I can be able to share that to y’all as I continue on my journey.


Kính chào Thầy và Sư Cô chùa tự viện Liên Hoa, các ông bà, các bác, va anh chị em vói các bác trong Hội Sĩ Quan Hải Quân Đệ Nhị Hổ Cáp Khoá 20

Tên con là Le Thi Hiếu Thinh Trưởng Nữ. Con có vài lời cám ơn đã đến đây viếng thăm Ba con lần cuối. Cho con xin phép chuyển qua tiếng Anh nói rõ hơn.


Good morning.

To Thầy and Sư Cô from the Lien Hoa Buddhist Temple, my family, The Vietnamese Navy Officer Class 20, 2nd Scorpion, and friends here today: from the bottom of my heart and my family’s heart, thank you for being here to remember my Dad.

My name is Thinh Le, or Tawn as friends call me, and I’m my father’s middle child and I’d like to say a few words about my Dad, or as we called him, Ba.

Stern, disciplined, principled, observant, rebellious, and kind are a few words that described Ba.

He always taught us to be good human beings first, above all else, and displayed this in many ways throughout his life and always led by example.

While the softer and loving side of Ba showed up near the end of his time, Ba’s actions throughout life always stemmed from a mindful act of love regardless of the circumstances. And this is something that is reflective in the strong partner he chose, my Mother.

Ba saw a lot during his lifetime, including the civil and political unrest in Vietnam leading up to the Vietnam War, the lost of country, his long imprisonment in post-war Re-Education Camps, his plight to escape Vietnam, the loss of his first child at sea, and finally his journey in navigating the United States as an immigrant and refugee.

Ba didn’t see his life the way I saw it, or the way many people saw it.  For him, he lived a life of constant struggle and solitude.

But for many others like myself, he lived a life where he overcame adversity with actions anchored in his belief of human liberation, actions that gave people freedom, and actions that gave people the opportunity to live as they truly wished and as they truly are.

Ba risked his life and gave others the chance to experience freedom and liberation, and that is something rare.

He was responsible for planning escape routes that saved many Vietnamese people after the Fall of Saigon, and I’m forever grateful that he gave my siblings and I a chance to live and be free.

A place where we can live in our own truth and a place where the pursuit of imagination is not only endless but possible.

He didn’t know it then, but I’m sure he knows it today when he looks back at his life, that he, Le Trong Luc, led a purposeful life. One where each of Ba’s action was carefully thought through and the results from those actions continue to ripple beautifully to others for lifetimes to come even if he’s gone.

The Buddha once said:

Life is a journey.
Death is a return to earth.
The universe is like an inn.
The passing years are like dust.
Regard this phantom world
As a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream,
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp – a phantom – and a dream
. *

*Vairacchedika 32.

Today, not only do we remember Ba’s journey in his life, his death is a gentle and kind reminder that we all must truly live in the present and in the most compassionate way we can.  Each time we live, we connect, and we can create a gentle ripple that can can carry on lifetimes.

I ask that as you leave today, take a moment to reflect on the beautiful ripples that you may have experienced from Ba and from all of those in your life.

And then ask yourself if you’ve mindfully tended to your true loving actions and released a gentle and serene ripple from yourself onto others... because life is all about the little ripples we experience and give.

Like I said to Ba before he passed. While I am sad that he is no longer physically here, I am truly happy of his return to Mother Earth and back into the ocean of life.

Thank you.

Eulogy - Photo: Louis DeLuca

Eulogy - Photo: Louis DeLuca

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