What Mourning Looks Like in Monterey Park

On a radiantly sunny afternoon in late January, I visited the parking lot of Star Ballroom Dance Studio in Monterey Park. It had been less than a week since a gunman killed 11 people there ranging in age from 57 to 76, many of them regulars who were there to celebrate Lunar New Year Eve. Eleven altars featuring portraits of the victims had been placed against the brick wall of the studio, along with traditional funeral wreaths draped in white sashes (“Exact Tax Inc.,” “Boys and Girls Club of the West San Gabriel Valley”). Buddhist monks clad in saffron robes chanted sutras in front of a table set with 11 plastic trays of rice and vegetables, and 11 bottles of water: sustenance for each person who died. The earthy-sweet scent of burning incense sticks filled the air. It all momentarily transported me to my grandparents’ funerals in Taiwan, my uncle’s funeral in Arizona. For so many of us with roots … Continue reading What Mourning Looks Like in Monterey Park