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.

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