Today we opened the house from 12 - 2 so friends and neighbors could drop by, eat a little something, and remember Randy. I should have done a better job of notifying everyone. As Jarrell famously writes in "Skunk Hour," My mind's not right.
Good to see friends. Hard to embrace some for the first time since they heard the news. Glad I managed to clean and de-clutter the downstairs: though such things are unimportant to me, they mattered to Randy.
I baked my applesauce cake again. S, P and J prepared everything else. The time went quickly. It was good to see neighbors catching up. We dumped coats in my apartment and had food set up on P & J's side of the house--more room--but it was good to duck back home a few times for quieter conversations.
Then it was over, and we four shifted gear to head out and finish the last task: releasing his remains in the forest while the daylight was good.
The snow lay only in patches here and there, which relieved me because I hadn't known what to expect. It's always so much colder in the higher ground. A few slippery spots, a hurried trek through deep woods that seemed at times completely unfamiliar, and then I knew where I was again and we turned off to gather at Randy's tree.
Emptying the urn was harder than I'd expected. It's only been two weeks since he died. When I lost David, just coming up on twenty years ago, I kept his remains for two years before finally letting them go into the garden, as he'd requested. But today is the solstice, and tonight the new moon, and as hard as it was to follow through when the moment finally came, I knew the timing was right and that waiting would serve no good purpose.
His favorite tree. Clumps of moss bright green through the snow. Bright, frigid water flashing in the creek. The silent woods surrounding us. We four friends, honoring his wish to be released in this beautiful, tranquil spot.
And then it was done. I climbed down to the creek and filled the urn with icy water, splashed it on the gray-dusted snow.
And now a part of him becomes the tree.
Back home, the quiet after everything. The feeling that none of this is real, that I've only somehow gone through a wrong door, that it's all a mistake. But such kindnesses from friends and neighbors, their labor to speak words that will matter, tell me it's real, it happened. I somehow hold myself above the current of grief, believing I have to, as if sheer will enacts a kind of levitation. Only in unguarded moments now do I slip, tumble into it, such bright and piercing grief.
Ellen McGrath Smith: Scatter, Feed
2 months ago