After losing Nelle, we quickly made plans to scatter her ashes.
My grandfather passed away in 2011. He lived with Parkinson’s disease for nearly 20 years. His ashes are spread beneath a glorious oak tree on my aunt and uncle’s land in the coulee where I grew up. I was reminded recently that he died in early May of that year – now 5 years ago.
It was therefore fitting and perfect that we took our daughter’s ashes to be with my grandfather. I wanted Ger and I to be alone as we scattered them. Just a month after losing her, I was in so much pain that I needed to have that moment to myself, to completely succumb to grieving. We declined having anyone join us.
Now we are on the eve of taking Iris’s ashes to the same tree. Overwhelmed at heading into the experience a second time, rushing to complete the journey did not seem necessary. Memorial Day weekend we will take her to her resting place. An aptly and ironically named weekend for such an occasion.
Over the past few weeks, I have contemplated, with a breaking heart, that my girls do not get a memorial. Funerals are tributes to lives well spent, and a time to recount the memories of a loved one. We have nothing to remember of my girls. No one will gather to honor their lives. No pictures, stories, or eulogies. Years from now, we will be the only ones who remember. This time, I had a stronger desire to gather people around me, but harshly realized that the moment will mean little to them.
So it will be a private moment, again, when we take our second daughter to her resting place. It was Fall last time, with leaves beginning to shiver from the cold. Now it is spring and the world is in bloom. Anticipation makes me feel heavy.
All I want to be
is a thousand blackbirds
bursting from a tree,
seeding the sky.
-Jim Harrison & Ted Kooser, from BRAIDED CREEK (2003)