Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Time to Scatter Stones

The first part: Goodbye again

You are gone, yet not, and I hold on. How can I let you go? Time and space contort as I reach through the veil to caress your cheek. My arm drops down your side and I take your hand in mine and, for a moment, you squeeze back. Then I look down and am holding only whisper.

A lover says goodbye many times.

The second part: A prayer

My Dear Beloved,

During our earthly communion we briefly wandered a path. But along the way you were called to return to the Infinity. I now stand at a place where we once wandered. I hold this place in my heart in remembrance of a shared dream of a life together; a dream from which we awoke suddenly. And today, at this appointed time, I declare this place sacred.

I take holy waters from this lake to purify my mind that it may be clear and quiet; an empty vessel for wisdom that will never be full.

I take holy waters from this lake to purify my body that it may be strong and firm yet gentle and yielding.

I take holy waters to purify my soul that I may be willing as the Infinite leads it towards the unknowable truth.

I do this to prepare myself to return you to the waters, the winds, and the earth.

Oh Infinite and Unknowable,
I now command to You ashes from my beloved Amy whose life-force You so swiftly reclaimed to rejoin. I do this to honor Amy and her memory of this place of still waters and rolling hills, peaceful meadows and quiet woods. I do this to honor Amy and her memory of a time we held together and our memory of a time that never came. That she is in union with You in spirit and now in union with You in body, I ask of You, for her, eternal peace.

Amen.

The third part: You become the lake

You become the lake and in time the fish and the yellow lilies that break through the water’s surface to embrace the sun. I gaze into the still waters at twilight and see your smile and a tear in your eye. How was it we became this? A gentle breeze answers in the trees.

Stillness.

Sparrows flitter home, branch-by-branch, chirping to each other about their day. A lonely frog calls out to an unknown lover.

Stillness.

In the fading light the lily pads arrange themselves in geometric patterns like magic carpets floating on mercury. I see you resting on one. We embrace, I join you, and we make love one last time.

Silence.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Deciding to Spread Out


For me, some decisions take a while. I hold them up to the light, turn them around, set them back down. Then pick them back up, shake them, sniff them, lick them.  Some decisions take no thought at all.  Snap. It is so. Then there are others that, well, are some of both.

What to do with Amy’s remains? Her ashes. This is one of those deep breath, audible sigh kind of decisions. Heavy. The heaviness required me to set it down for a long time.  About two years in fact. And then, earlier this week, as I was packing for a weekend workshop at a retreat center in upstate New York, it all hit me all at once:
1. We were to attend a couples retreat at that same place two years ago this week.
2. It was four years ago (Four? Only four? Really?) we attended a weekend retreat about this same time of the year.
3. It was a most meaningful place where we were together and that she never got to return to. I get to return by myself. 
4. I’m taking her along.

The time it takes you to read those four thoughts above is infinitely longer than the actual time they took sparking through my synapses. It was one of those moments. After a couple years of not knowing, not even pondering lately, really. All of a sudden I knew. Clarity.

Then the heaviness returned. I started to think. Thinking. Thinking it through. And this started the internal conversation:

I can’t take all her ashes, just some. It’s too important to my boys, and her mom and others to have her near. And there may be other places they'd want her to be. I have no time to really talk this through with them. I just have to do it. It feels right, doesn’t it? Don’t get all wussy now, you have GOT to do this and you know it. But what about the logistics? I have to open up the box she is in, unwrap the plastic bag that they put her in and remove some of her. What if I drop the bag, or spill some? How do I clean it up? No way I’m vacuuming. What if I get some on me? Maybe that would be good, actually. What do I put her in, I mean, I’m not taking all of her, am I? I need to put her in some other container. I wonder what part of Amy will be in there? Just shut up, would you? Now you’re getting weird. Just take the whole box and a plastic container from the kitchen. You don’t have time to deal with this now while you are packing but you’ll figure it out when you get there. Sigh. Yeah, yeah. Okay. Just shut the fuck up.


And that’s what I did. I brought the whole box with me and last night, on my bed, in a single dorm room at this retreat center, I carefully and reverently scooped out about ¼ cup of Amy’s remains in to a plastic container. After breakfast I walked, in a steady rain, to the edge of a pond we had canoed on five years ago, said a prayer, and tossed her ashes onto the water. I cried, a little, but it felt right. And now I see how important it is to have a place I can think of, besides a shelf in our living room, where she is. Free to float and melt back into the waters. To rejoin the fish and the frogs and the lily pads. Which is how I think of it. A returning. Rejoining The Essential. The Interconnected. Someday we’ll all return to there.

Which is better than a box.