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Archive for May, 2010

Swirling ashes and flowers at the oceans edge

 

Last weekend, I flew to Hawaii for a few days to join friends for classic Hawaiian weaving – I wove bracelets.  I was also there to release Mike’s ashes into the ocean.  He always wanted retire to Hawaii.  We decided to gather Sunday morning – about 16 of us.  I am so grateful for all that came together as I needed everyone’s help to make this ceremony happen.   

I had never opened the bag holding the box of ashes after I picked it up a week and a half after Mike had split.  It sat in the closet till I packed the bag with the box in my suitcase for the flight to the Big island.  Only just before the ceremony did I take the box out of the bag . . . and discovered that the box was a heavy metal box – sealed shut, with no way to open it.  I asked for a plain box.  Who knew?  Two men in our group both tried to open it and called it a safe, not a box.  The handyman at the resort was called to bring his tools. As he was figuring out how to open the box, he asked, “Did he really like this place?”  Yes, actually he did.  Success – the box was finally pried open.   

This being the No Faults Tour weekend with my friends . . . the ceremony began a little later than originally planned – and, it was perfect.  Including trying to get Mike out of the box.  One suggested a tide pool at the ocean’s edge was a good place on this balmy, windy day.  Another provided a basket to put the bag of ashes in.  A special friend wore a sarong in Mike’s honor, as Mike would have worn one if he had been here.  Another was wearing a look-alike to Mike’s favorite sarong.  She had bought it at the market just a few days before – colors she didn’t usually wear but it had called to her!  Aloha, Mike.  

We all filed down to the tide pool and gathered in a half circle.   I said a few words about Mike – about the joy and love that connected us to Mike and to each other.  I hadn’t been to this resort since our honeymoon.  Now Mike and I were both here again.  We prayed and sang the chant – There is only one of us, in your eyes it’s me I see, there is only one of us, you are my reflection, there is only one.  I stood barefoot in the water and with Amazing Grace being played on the harmonica, I poured Mike’s ashes slowly into the water as the waves rolled in and out.  The fine silver grey powder mixed and swirled with the water – stirring and flowing into a larger and larger area at the edge of the ocean. We broke our leis and tossed the flowers into the water – a mix of peach, pink, purple and white floating above the moving misty water.  The mist didn’t go out to sea as much as dissolve and merge with the water and drift down into the sand at the waters edge.   I guess he’s not leaving the beach.  We gathered back on the sand and many expressed how beautiful the ceremony was.  One said that this is how he wants to go – so simple and so moving.   

When I was pouring the fine ashes into the water, I flashed on how this is what Andy Goldsworthy has done . . . grinding up natural elements and pouring the colored powder down a river or stream.  Here I was making art – the ephemeral art of life – watching and remembering sweet Mike.

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It seems like the first year is the most difficult.  There have so many firsts without Mike.  Halloween.  Thanksgiving.  His Birthday – that  day felt really empty. Christmas.  New Year’s.  Valentine’s Day.  I thought about him a lot.  He made a big deal of Valentine’s Day.  He surprised me each year with a special gift and card. I’d never had a man be so thoughtful and loving with this holiday.  Easter.  Our wedding anniversary – I wrote April 6th for two days in a row until I realized why.  I had forgotten our anniversary a couple times before.  I was always happy he remembered it.  Much harder was April 21st –  six months since Mike departed this life experience.  Every time I thought of this, tears sprung to my eyes. It seemed like it had been so recently and yet, so long ago.  I couldn’t really write about it till now. 

This timeframe feels like a milestone in accepting the reality that Mike’s not here.  I keep reflecting on Joan Didion’s book, The Year of Magical Thinking.  It took a year for her to really accept – or begin to accept – that her husband was gone.  More holidays and remembrances to come.  Memorial Day.  Fourth of July – last year we were at Dillon Beach, as usual.  My girlfriend and I and our daughters have been going every year for ten years.  It was so wonderful to have Mike there, too.  We all had so much fun.  I know I will miss him being there this year.

At first, it felt uncomfortable driving Mike’s Mini Cooper.  It smells like Mike, my daughter said.  It did.  I felt like I was surrounded by him.  He loved his Mini.  Years ago, I read that items that are well loved, hold that love energy  and you can feel that attraction, that love.  I have experienced this with rings  – my mother’s, my grandmothers’, and Mike’s mother’s – and  with the Mini.  I’m driving it more now.  The scent is beginning to fade, or perhaps, I’m getting more used to it.

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