Sharing my mourning journey as my family learns to live a new normal after the death of my 19 y.o. son in an auto accident on 10/12/08.

Archive for the ‘spreading ashes’ Category

Honoring Last Wishes- Another Look 2013

To give more insight into the idea of honoring requests and giving my new readers a fuller picture of my dad who was/is so instrumental on my mourning journey I offer again the post below.

The last few months I feel like I’ve been in a whirlwind. Traveling back and forth to Ohio when my Dad was ill, preparing for his memorial service after his death, honoring what would have been Jordan’s commencement with purple ribbons, and then Memorial Day weekend honoring Daddy’s final wish of spreading his ashes in his hometown in West Virginia. The part of West Virginia where my parents and their parents lived is fit for any postcard. The summer mountains are filled with lush green trees and roll on and on for as far as the eye can see. The area where Daddy lived was a mining town and everyone called it “#9” because that was the number of the mine that the men worked in and they lived in company owned housing and shopped at the company store.

It took us an hour to get there from our hotel and as we drove winding on too small roads that seemed to at any bend curve right into a mountain, Mark the kids and I all wondered, “Are we there yet?” Finally my brother-in-law who was leading the way pulled over on a patch of gravel off the side of the road.

“There’s the creek with the waterfall, exactly like Daddy said. It’s right here.”

My hand covered my mouth as I wept thinking back to our very last conversation when I asked him if he was sure the creek was still there and he replied, “Shoot girl, of course it’s still there.” The creek was there and he was right, Mama knew how to get there. My great-uncle who had driven with my cousin said as he got out of the car, “I thought I’d seen all of West Virginia, but I’ve never been out here.”

The area was overgrown and I looked up from the creek to all the trees and tall grass, trying to imagine what it looked like when it was dotted with small houses. What dotted the area now were yellow and black butterflies everywhere.Their presence was as if to say, “You’re in the right place. We’re here to make sure it’s special for you.” None of us had every seen so many butterflies in one place. I joked, “Daddy wanted to make sure we didn’t miss the place.” After we’d all had a chance to look around and take pictures of the waterfall and creek and the mountains as the backdrop it was time to do the task that had brought us to the spot. Mark carefully pulled the metal container from the back of the car.

I asked, “Do you have something to cut the plastic bag?” Remembering our struggle when we tried to spread Jordan’s ashes and didn’t have anything to cut the zip tie that held the bag closed.

Mark nodded and continued over to the creek just under the waterfall. Mama asked for a word of prayer and we all gathered, holding hands and my Uncle prayed for us and for the task we were undertaking. As we dropped hands I looked over to see Lindsay and Kendall crying and put an arm around each one of them holding them close. The bag was opened and Mark began to pour the ashes and we all watched as the ashes mingled and churned with the water cascading from the waterfall before drifting downstream.

I called out, “Daddy thank you for being so wise and letting us know what your final wishes were. We are so proud to honor them.”

Mark poured a bit more in and then I reached into my pocket and removed the small container that held some of Jordan’s ashes. With a high arc I flung them into the water. “Thank you Daddy for letting Jordan be with you.”

The only sounds were weeping. My mother wailed as she watched the remains of the man she’d loved since high school drift down the creek he’d played in as a boy. Suddenly we were all together hugging and crying as the sunshine warmed our backs. Mama began to quiet down and we all stepped back a little to give her space. I went back to the waterfall and just watched the water no longer clear but muddied with the ashes. As I walked back to the car, I searched the ground for rocks that weren’t broken pieces of gravel and found a coral colored rock and one stone with specks of glittering green. I put them in my pocket thinking of all the rock Daddy had skipped in that same creek.

Our day wasn’t done, Mama wanted to spread some of Daddy’s ashes around the graves of her parents and that of his oldest sister. We loaded back into the car for the next sojourn. As we pulled away from the creek Mark suddenly stopped the car.

“Look at that sign. Take a picture of it.”

I hurriedly got the camera and snapped the picture.After I read the sign I whispered, “and Daddy too.”

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While Sam Cooke Sang

Many of you have found my blog through my piece on the Huffington Post and to you all I say thank you and welcome. I feel the need to repost a few posts about my dad so that those new to my blog can have a true sense of who he was. I say was because Daddy died on Easter Sunday, 2011 after a brief battle with metastasized lung cancer. Below is the piece I wrote about saying goodbye.

I have been away from my blog for a while as I’ve been in Ohio with my family during my father’s illness. Sadly, I have to tell you that my father passed away on April 24th, 2011. I was able to be in Ohio with him before he died. We sat and talked and he told me what he wanted for his memorial service, who he wanted to speak and of course a saxophone playing. Daddy loved jazz and the saxophone was his favorite instrument. He had 10’s of thousands of songs that he catalogued on his computer. His jazz library could rival any formal library in the world.

As we talked I had one question for my dad.

“Daddy I know you want your ashes spread in West Virginia.”

“Yeah, your mama knows what I want. There’s a creek where I used to play when I was a little boy and that’s where I want the ashes.”

“Is the creek still there?”

With his typical eye roll, “Oh shoot girl, yes it’s still there.”

“Well I was just wondering if it would be okay to have some of Jordan’s ashes mixed with yours when we spread them.”

“Of course you can, even if it’s just a teaspoonful. You know Jordan is my boy. Now you notice I said is, not was.”

“I know Daddy.”

Daddy handing Jordan(age 2) a rock when they both got restless at church and went outside.

“Shoot, that boy and I threw rocks together when he was little down in West Virginia. Of course he can be with me.”

“Thank you Daddy.”

We sat quietly for a while after talking and I looked over and Daddy had fallen asleep.

Later that day he was moved from the hospital to an inpatient hospice facility. Our hope was that he would be able to come home in a few days after they  transferred him to oral medications. Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated rapidly and by Friday he wasn’t talking anymore but didn’t seem to be in much pain. When my mom and I walked into his room on Friday as part of our new routine I asked him what music he wanted to hear.I rolled out the usuals, Stanley Turrentine, Gene Ammons, Jimmy Smith. He shook his head “no” until I came to Sam Cooke.He wasn’t in the mood for jazz, but for gospel.
I stood rubbing his shoulder as he seemed a bit restless and then he reached out for my hand. I took his hand and told my mother to hold his other. All the while Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers played, “Nearer To Thee,” in the background. After a few minutes of standing at his bedside holding his hands he gently pulled his hands away. Mama and I went to sit down. I looked over at my exhausted mother and saw that she had drifted off to sleep. Daddy would close his eyes for a few minutes and then open them again, putting his hands behind his head and then trying to turn in bed. He was too weak to turn and shook his head “no” when I asked if he wanted help. I looked over at him as he lay with his eyes closed and suddenly he opened his eyes and with perfect clarity winked at me which brought me to the edge of my seat. I smiled back, so familiar with that wink and knowing this time all the words that it conveyed, “I’m alright”, “Take care of yourself” ,”Take care of your Mama”, “Goodbye.”

That was the last time Daddy opened his eyes and his gift of a wink was the perfect goodbye. He was an amazing man who taught me so much about life and not fearing death. Sleep well my wonderful father. You have earned your rest.

June 7, 1936-April 24, 2011

While Sam Cooke Sang

I have been away from my blog for a while as I’ve been in Ohio with my family during my father’s illness. Sadly, I have to tell you that my father passed away on April 24th, 2011. I was able to be in Ohio with him before he died. We sat and talked and he told me what he wanted for his memorial service, who he wanted to speak and of course a saxophone playing. Daddy loved jazz and the saxophone was his favorite instrument. He had 10’s of thousands of songs that he catalogued on his computer. His jazz library could rival any formal library in the world.

As we talked I had one question for my dad.

“Daddy I know you want your ashes spread in West Virginia.”

“Yeah, your mama knows what I want. There’s a creek where I used to play when I was a little boy and that’s where I want the ashes.”

“Is the creek still there?”

With his typical eye roll, “Oh shoot girl, yes it’s still there.”

“Well I was just wondering if it would be okay to have some of Jordan’s ashes mixed with yours when we spread them.”

“Of course you can, even if it’s just a teaspoonful. You know Jordan is my boy. Now you notice I said is, not was.”

“I know Daddy.”

Daddy handing Jordan(age 2) a rock when they both got restless at church and went outside.

“Shoot, that boy and I threw rocks together when he was little down in West Virginia. Of course he can be with me.”

“Thank you Daddy.”

We sat quietly for a while after talking and I looked over and Daddy had fallen asleep.

Later that day he was moved from the hospital to an inpatient hospice facility. Our hope was that he would be able to come home in a few days after they  transferred him to oral medications. Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated rapidly and by Friday he wasn’t talking anymore but didn’t seem to be in much pain. When my mom and I walked into his room on Friday as part of our new routine I asked him what music he wanted to hear.I rolled out the usuals, Stanley Turrentine, Gene Ammons, Jimmy Smith. He shook his head “no” until I came to Sam Cooke.He wasn’t in the mood for jazz, but for gospel.
I stood rubbing his shoulder as he seemed a bit restless and then he reached out for my hand. I took his hand and told my mother to hold his other. All the while Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers played, “Nearer To Thee,” in the background. After a few minutes of standing at his bedside holding his hands he gently pulled his hands away. Mama and I went to sit down. I looked over at my exhausted mother and saw that she had drifted off to sleep. Daddy would close his eyes for a few minutes and then open them again, putting his hands behind his head and then trying to turn in bed. He was too weak to turn and shook his head “no” when I asked if he wanted help. I looked over at him as he lay with his eyes closed and suddenly he opened his eyes and with perfect clarity winked at me which brought me to the edge of my seat. I smiled back, so familiar with that wink and knowing this time all the words that it conveyed, “I’m alright”, “Take care of yourself” ,”Take care of your Mama”, “Goodbye.”

That was the last time Daddy opened his eyes and his gift of a wink was the perfect goodbye. He was an amazing man who taught me so much about life and not fearing death. Sleep well my wonderful father. You have earned your rest.

June 7, 1936-April 24, 2011

Sweet Honey In The Rock To End The Day

To all of you still visiting my blog I say thank you. Writing has been difficult for me lately. Grief doesn’t follow any specific path and I’m learning to lean into what is happening so that as my friend Tom tells me I can, “Feel what I’m feeling.”

I was fortunate to hear Sweet Honey in the Rock perform this past weekend. If they’re ever in your town make sure to see them. One of their songs put writing in my heart again. Your comments are welcomed and needed. Thanks

My morning started with the thought, “Why did they get to keep their sons and I didn’t.” I sat up straight in bed knowing that no more rest would come. All that day the, “Why them and not me,” feeling latched on invading most of my thoughts. I wanted Jordan. It was snowing out and I wanted to call him, hearing his sleepy voice as I described what home looked like in a blanket of snow.

“Are you warm enough? Are you wearing your heavy coat?”

“Yes Mom, I’m fine.”

That’s the conversation I wanted but there’s no number to call anymore. I stayed in my pajamas most of the day, which is such a rarity for me that my kids asked if I was sick. I told them, “No, I’m just looking at this snowy day and trying to feel cozy.” I knew later in the evening I’d get dressed because Mark and I were going to a concert but the day was spent wrapped in warmth wondering when the hurt of longing would lessen.

The night was icy and the snow had the crunch of cold. As we walked to the car bracing against the wind, Mark and I joked, “This better be the best concert we’ve ever been to.” Sweet Honey in the Rock was singing at a local college and I was excited to see them. Since college I’d missed going to their concerts for a variety of reasons but I was determined to hear them sing. They sing a mixture of folk, gospel, spirituals, jazz, blues and all of it with their voices as the only instruments. My college friend Melissa was the first to rave about their concerts. Everyone who saw them told me that you leave their concerts transformed.

As we settled into our seats a woman we’d met at the reception before the concert sat next to Mark. She was an administrator at the University and we talked at the variety of guests that came to perform. While making small talk she asked, “How many kids do you have?” Mark told her, “We have 4. Twin girls who are 11, a son who is 18 and our oldest boy was 19 when he was killed in a car accident.” I studied my program as he talked knowing the story by heart but still flinching when he said, “killed.” I briefly looked up and made eye contact with our row mate as her eyes offered condolences and then went back to the program. The lights dimmed and the concert began.

After a lively upbeat intro song called “Denko,” one of the singers introduced the song they were about to sing saying, “All of us have plans for what we want to happen after we die. Sometimes those plans are followed, sometimes they’re not.” She then went on to sing, “When I Die,” with the rest of the group repeating in perfect harmony the phrase, “When I Die,” as her, “music.” As the song started, Mark reached over and rested his hand on my knee. I could tell by his touch that he worried about the hard start to my day and if this was a song I could bear to hear. I squeezed his hand, closed my eyes and chose to be a part of the song.

Jordan’s voice was in my head as I sat up straighter swaying to the refrain, “When I Die, When I Die.”

“When I die, I want to be cremated.” That was Jordan’s desire expressed to Mark and me. We filed it away in the far recesses of our hearts because we didn’t think we’d need to carry them out. Gratitude filled me because we’d listened to Jordan and carried out his wishes. Then a perfect voice sang out, “When I die let my spirit breathe, let it soar like an eagle to the highest tree,” and I touched my throat as I imagined Jordan’s spirit soaring higher than it ever could on this earth. I opened my eyes briefly then quickly closed them back tight. I needed to experience this song without distraction. It meant hearing it and feeling it without worrying about what others around me were doing or how I looked to them.

“When I die, when I die,” the song continued and I thought of Jordan’s ashes and our need to spread them far and wide to signify the world traveler he would have been. I feel guilty that it is taking us so long to spread his ashes. It has been two years and we’re only starting to plan the journeys for Jordan’s ashes. The words to the song entered my body interrupting all guilty thoughts, “Well, well when I die you can cast me out into the ocean wide.  Let my spirit cry, let it enter the tears that make the ocean deep and wide.” Eyes still closed I saw Mark and I standing on a beach releasing Jordan’s ashes into the sea saying goodbye and safe travels one last time. The tears started to fall and I did nothing to stop them. The song held a truth that freed me from one of my burdens. I whispered to myself, “What do you believe? What do you believe? Then the answer came, “Jordan is safe. You don’t have to worry about him anymore. Jordan is safe.”

I leaned back into the song and rocked as I heard the next refrain,

“Oh, oh, oh when I die, toss me out into the winds of time

Let my ashes roam, blow here blow there

I know I’m gonna find my true home”

Tears streamed down my face as the song washed over me. The truth was there begging to be accepted. “When I Die.” The when for Jordan was an answered question. There is nothing I can do about the when. I listened to voices covering and comforting me and asked my heart to accept that Jordan is safe. In the long nights when sleep won’t come and all I want is to have my boy home, I can take comfort if I choose to believe Jordan is safe. I don’t have to worry about him any more. Many questions linger but that one can be put to rest if I allow it.

The fact that he is gone and he’s here is settling in and slowly finding it’s rightful spot within me. I feel him in the bright red cardinal that perches outside my window, peering in looking straight at me as I call him Jordan by name. Jordan’s spirit is in the coincidences of his name appearing or being overheard when I miss him most. He is in the emails, texts and notes from his friends reaching out to me when I ache for him. A beautiful song opened a small part of my heart to that truth. My sorrow hasn’t evaporated and my heart is not burden free. But there is a feeling of relief akin to joy to be able to put one of my worries to rest. Jordan is safe. No more harm can come to him.

“When I die, let these bones take root, let the seed that been planted let ‘em come up bearing fruit”

Bringing Jordan Home

Jordan's candle

Two weeks ago on Mark’s birthday as I shuffled through the mail to get the cards sent by family and friends to put on the table with the gifts for Mark to open, I saw the letter from the funeral home addressed to Mark. I knew what it said without having to open it. We had yet to pick up Jordan’s remains from the funeral home and I knew the letter was telling us it was time to come and pick them up. Tonight was not the time for Mark to see this particular piece of mail. I placed it underneath a pile of catalogs to make sure Mark wouldn’t see it. This was a piece of mail I would make sure he didn’t open or even see on his birthday. I retrieved the cards and proceeded with our typical birthday rituals. Before I went to bed that night I found the letter and opened it knowing I would wonder about it all night if I didn’t open and read it. As I had known, the letter did say it was time to pick up Jordan’s remains. I went to bed that night sleeping off and on but spending most of my time telling myself it was time, we needed to bring Jordan home.

The next morning as Mark dressed for work I told him about the letter from the funeral home. He told me he would call them and handle the arrangements for setting up a time to pick up Jordan’s remains. Later that day Mark confirmed with the funeral home that we would pick up Jordan’s ashes the week after Thanksgiving. I had a week and a half to prepare myself to do what I hadn’t been able to do for over a year. Having Jordan cremated had been one of the easier decisions we had to make after Jordan died, because he’d made it for us. On one of our Thanksgiving drives to Ohio when Jordan was in high school, I was telling Mark my father’s desire to have his ashes spread in the hills of West Virginia near a lake where he played as a child. Jordan chimed into the conversation and said that his desire when he died was to be cremated as well. He appreciated the eco-friendly aspects of cremation and liked the idea that his ashes could be in a place or places that he wanted them to be. We never dreamed that Jordan’s request would have to be honored by us, his parents.

This year all the way to Ohio and the entire time we were there I kept thinking of Tuesday, the day Mark had arranged for us to pick up the remains. I didn’t know if I could go, but I didn’t want Mark to go alone. Tuesday came and Mark came home from work early. We sat in our family room and I told him I wasn’t ready to go to the funeral home that day. I explained to him that bringing Jordan’s ashes home meant all the tricks I’d been using to have moments of denial were being stripped away. His remains, the real proof of our loss would be in our possession.  I asked him, “Why does it have to be today?” All he answered was that he had arranged this time and was ready to go and bring Jordan home. He explained to me that if I couldn’t go, it was okay he would go by himself. I immediately objected to that scenario and asked, “Can’t you get someone to go with you if I can’t go?” Mark looked at me with tears in his eyes and explained why picking up Jordan’s remains and bringing them home was something he felt was our responsibility.

He reminded me of Jordan’s birth and retold me his birth story of the day Jordan was born:

When Jordan was born, there was a part of that experience that was just between you and Jordan. I have always honored and respected that bond and that aspect of nature. When I left the hospital after Jordan’s birth it was about 5:30 in the morning. I remember going to Denny’s to eat breakfast and telling the waitress that I was a new father and I had a son. Before I went home to rest for a while, I bought a newspaper to have as a keepsake of the day Jordan was born. I always loved that newspaper cover because it had the picture of the shuttle Columbia being launched the day before. I just remember thinking what a perfect cover for the day my son is born. The sky is the limit for him. When I brought you and Jordan home from the hospital I did it with love and the responsibility that comes with being a husband and a father. Now it’s time to bring our boy home again. I brought my little family home when he was born. I’m going to bring my son home now. I have to.

Image of the newspaper Mark bought on the day Jordan was born.

I didn’t push anymore after Mark explained how bringing Jordan’s remains home was so intertwined with his role as a father. I just asked him to give me one more day to ready myself so that I could go with him. To prepare myself I needed to have an idea of what the container would be like and what if any process we would have to follow. I called the funeral home and told them we wouldn’t be coming that day but would be there the next day. The lady assured me that was fine; we could come any day that week that worked for us. I then asked if we needed to call before we came. She said no. I stumbled a bit as I took a breath and tried to formulate the most burning question I had.  Through many “um’s” I finally told her that to prepare myself I needed her to describe in what type of container we would be picking up our son’s remains. She very gently and patiently explained that the remains were separated into four plastic bags as we’d requested and would be in a cardboard box. A cardboard box was how we would find our boy.

We had requested the ashes be separated into four bags because we planned to bury part of Jordan’s ashes in the memorial garden in our backyard, so that a part of him would always be home with us. The other bags would go with us as we travelled to places Jordan had planned to go on his adventures. We will take his remains and spread them at the places he dreamed of going but didn’t live to see.

On Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009 exactly 414 days since we were last at the funeral home when we had the family viewing of Jordan’s body before the cremation, Mark and I went to the funeral home again. The funeral home is 5 minutes from our house, but I’ve managed to avoid driving past it for over a year. We parked in front of the funeral home at a meter, not in the parking lot as we’d done the first time we were there. The parking lot was where we parked when we came to view Jordan’s body. This time we put money in a meter to take care of the final task with the funeral home. As we walked up the sidewalk Mark reached for my hand, but they were buried deep in my pockets. I was fixated, watching an elderly Asian women pulling bread from her pockets to feed the sparrows that lined the bushes along the sidewalk. Her method of feeding looked more like stalking. I kept watching her slipping up behind birds and stealthily dropping crumbs to the ground. She then spotted a squirrel and came up behind it trying to sneak up on it so she could give it breadcrumbs too. I watched her as we walked and then too soon we were at the door of the funeral home. I had to face forward and look at the door. The sign clearly read, “ring bell.” Mark pulled on one door, then the other door. I pointed to the sign, “We have to ring the bell.” He said, “Oh, I didn’t even see it.”

The funeral director came to the door and welcomed us in with a, cordial and gentle, yet professional manner. He shook our hands and told us to have a seat. We sat for a few minutes and I watched the housekeeper vacuum the room used for services. Suddenly the funeral director was back with an evergreen colored shopping bag, the funeral home name and logo on the side. It was the same green shopping bags they used to give us the extra programs, photo displays and the guest book from the memorial service. He gave Mark a paper to sign, and then explained that the best type of container to put the ashes in would be one with a wide opening. As he spoke I wondered if the container we had chosen was going to work. I didn’t think it would, but I didn’t have the strength to speak. We were then on our way.

It had taken us 414 days to come back to the funeral home and only five minutes to pick up the remains of our son. As we walked to the car with Mark carrying the bag, I saw the elderly Asian woman across the street, hand still in her pocket crumbling bread and then stealthily dropping crumbs into the bushes where birds flocked. I wanted to think about this woman and whether this routine was something she did every day. I started to make up a life story and a routine for her as we walked to the car. I watched her as she walked down the street to her next feeding spot. Thinking about her meant not thinking about the bag Mark was placing in the backseat. Mark held the bag and I looked away, not ready to look inside the bag to see the cardboard box; a box no different from any box that had been shipped to our home carrying items ordered from catalogs. There was the irony, how could the same kind of box that I had opened and used so many times before now hold the remains of one of my most precious loves. I couldn’t look in the bag.

Mark came around to the driver’s side and we were both in the car with the doors closed. I sat staring straight ahead not able to speak. Mark asked me if I wanted to go home and I shook my head no. I told him I just needed a few minutes. I asked, “Can we just sit here a few minutes so I can get myself together?” He nodded yes and placed his hand on my leg. I looked out the window at the funeral home and then the tears came. No words came out only moans, sobs and tears. I cried for all that we’d lost and the pain that accompanied every step and transition we had to make in accepting the death of our son. We had the ashes of our son in the car with us. We were taking him home. We had avoided this step for over a year because it signified a truth and finality that I couldn’t fully embrace. I still want my boy to come home. The bag in the backseat says unequivocally that he won’t, he can’t. I didn’t want to face this moment. I wanted to continue to find a way to undue time and fix October 12th, 2008. The bag in the backseat, which held Jordan’s remains, was taking us down a different path. A path that held a future of days, celebrations, and memories that Jordan wouldn’t ever experience. I wept until no more tears came. I took a breath, looked at Mark and told him I was ready to go.

We pulled away from the curb; I exhaled and told Mark I wasn’t ready to go home yet. We decided to go to lunch. Even as I said the words, “Let’s go to lunch”, I felt insane. What were we doing acting normal and doing something as mundane as having lunch when the shopping bag was in the backseat? The whole lunch was such an out of body experience. I knew that we were postponing going home and putting Jordan’s remains in the place we had decided on because taking a little more time meant that we didn’t have to face the truth that the bag held. I watched myself go to a local Greek restaurant, make small talk with my husband and eat lunch. I ate food after going to the funeral home to pick up my son’s remains. It was surreal watching myself have this typical experience meshed with the unimaginably painful sojourn we’d just crossed. I’d been placed in a world that felt undone.

Finally, it was time to go home. When we pulled into the driveway, Mark hurriedly got out of the car and bounded up the stairs. He forgot the shopping bag. As he unlocked the back door to our house I called out to him, “The bag is still here. I looked at the bag and hurriedly said, that’s okay I’ll get it.” The automatic side door slid open and I picked up the bag, still not looking into it. Not looking into it didn’t matter anymore; the weight of the bag surprised me. I hadn’t known what to expect, but I wasn’t imagining that the bag would be so heavy. Mark quickly took the bag from me and I said out loud, “It’s heavier than I thought it would be.” All he said was, “I know.” Mark took the bag and put it in the living room. We had allowed ourselves time to get Jordan’s ashes, place them in our home and deal with our initial feelings before the kids came home from school. We decided that they aren’t ready to know that his ashes are home. For now Mark and I own this information and the emotions it brings for our children and us.

Somehow the hour got late and we still hadn’t transferred Jordan’s remains to the container we had chosen. I looked at Mark and said, “Merrick will be home in about an hour we need to take care of it.” We both wearily got up from our seats in the family room and with the same dignity and somberness we’d shown at the viewing of Jordan’s body opened the box. Mark had retrieved the container we were going to use, and I dusted it off even though it was already clean. We sat side by side, I on the corner of the couch, he in the chair next to the couch and he pulled out a plastic bag of ashes. As soon as I saw the bag I knew we’d have to get a new container, the opening of the one we had was too small. Mark attempted to put the bag in but it didn’t fit.

As I looked at the bag suddenly all the memories I had of my child flooded back and blurred together. How could this be?  The baby I brought home from the hospital swaddled in blankets was now ashes contained in a plastic bag. Mark put the bag back into the box, and I began to scream. I screamed and I screamed. I screamed and the words, “No”, and “I want my boy”, and “He’s my baby, he’s my baby” echoed through our house. I pounded the walls, I wailed, I wanted to leave. I screamed until I was hoarse and my throat was raw. Mark got me to sit and held me as I moaned and sobbed. We had been given our beautiful baby boy to bring home to love, nurture and raise. Now we sat looking at a box of ashes that used to be our vibrant, firstborn son.

Our boy is gone. We will take care of his remains and do our best to honor his memory by spreading his ashes and making some of his wishes and dreams come true. No matter where his ashes travel, he’ll always be my baby. I won’t ever stop longing for him.