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Member since: Mon Apr 24, 2006, 07:56 PM
Number of posts: 2,603

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I touched my husband's ashes last night.

I had not opened the urn in the eight months since he died. I couldn’t face the stark reality of his beloved body’s reduction to a few pounds of powdered carbon. Somehow, I convinced myself last night when I couldn’t sleep that maybe I was ready to take that step. For one thing, I have been making plans for a scattering ceremony in August; I knew I needed to see and touch his ashes privately before I would be able to see and touch them publicly. I broke down last August when the funeral director handed the box to me. The realization that George’s entire physical being now fit into a 6” x 6” x 6” cube almost knocked me off my feet. I had to sit down fast to keep from falling. When I carried the box home and placed it safely on the mantel, I couldn’t imagine how I would ever be able to open and examine the contents.

And now I have seen and touched and smelled George’s cremains, and I got through it--although my tears fell like rain drops into the open plastic bag. I had read that human ashes are heavy, like course sand. His ashes were heavy, and gray/white. I picked some up and let it run through my fingers. I imagined his spirit talking me through this experience, reminding me that even in this radically changed form, his body still was beloved to me. I felt myself caressing his ashes with my fingers--and picking up small pieces of bone that had escaped the fire. I remember thinking: “George was larger than life. How is it possible that I am holding his ashes and fragments of his bones in my hand?” Even as I cried, I marveled at the strangeness.

I leaned down and smelled the not unpleasant scent of the ashes and felt a familiar wave of love and longing wash over me. I found that there was nothing scary or creepy or even devastating about seeing and touching George’s ashes. I have already been devastated by his loss from my life, and there is nothing worse that this or any other part of the process can do to me. Touching his ashes was sobering, but not devastating.

As I put the plastic bag back into the urn and tightened the screws that held the lid securely in place, I thanked my sweet George for loving me until he died (and beyond, if my prayers and wishes are true). In life, he was a lover of women, and gave his heart freely. I was not the first or only love that he had known in his life, but I was the last. His ashes are on my mantel, and mine alone. I will return them to our Mother Earth in August, but for now, they sit on my mantel. I no longer fear them. They are as beloved to me as every particle and every manifestation of him has ever been or will ever be. It is still him, even now.
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