I’ve been off the grid for a few days. I took a trip with my sisters and we spread my mother’s ashes. It was a wonderful and terrible experience.
Because of an awful family history, my sisters and I have what most would find a strange relationship with one another: in some ways, we are extremely close; in others, we don’t know each other at all. For many many years, I had no contact at all with one of them, though I stayed in contact with the other. All three of us re-connected upon receiving news of my mother’s passing, and in some ways, it has been an opening of floodgates, a rediscovering of one another, and a re-building of our relationship.
When we finally reached the place we had chosen, we couldn’t find an appropriate spot to spread mom’s ashes, so we wandered together awhile, quiet. It was a strange quest. How does one demonstrate some semblance of tenderness and respect to one so hard to love? We did it the only way we could:
My sisters and I leaned on each other a lot. Shared pain is best borne together.
We found the right spot, finally, and Robin and I stood together with mom’s remains as Laurie stood back a bit. We quietly spread the ashes and watched the wind carry a bit of her away. No one spoke. We walked away together, and I read a poem, and then we left. No one knows where she rests but us, and not many care. I doubt I could ever find the spot again.
My sisters and I moved on: we spent several days together, in a weird state of knowing each other deeply, and getting to know each other again. We now have some wonderful treasures: some private jokes (“Chik-fil-A! I don’t eat at Chic-fil-A: I am on a budget!”), some new memories, and some special time spent together. We laughed a lot. (“Morning, sis, can I interest you in a truffle?) Laughter and love are a wonderful balm for grief:
(Laurie and I must have quoted our favorite YouTube Punkin-head a thousand times on this trip: “Worry about yourself. You DWIVE!”)
After all this time, my sisters and I have returned to each other, and started again. We are not just worrying about ourselves, but each other as well because we don’t want to see our family’s story end as my mother’s life did: in hidden silence. Not everyone is capable of loving their children, or anyone else, for that matter; our mother was such a person, and her life was a tragic testimony to what happens when a heart is turned to stone.
One’s family should be the vessel in which a person is able to find the nourishment to grow into their best self. My sisters and I had to break out of the vessel in which we were placed in order to grow, like so many other people do. One gets scarred that way, but one can also gain a strength, learn the value of true love, and hopefully, acquire some grace they can give to someone else, because therein lies the path to peace.
Grace, and peace, be unto each of you, and especially to my precious sisters.