Dear Still Water Friends,
My Mother’s Ashes
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I’m writing this email knowing that words will be inadequate to fully describe the richness of my experience. But it’s a start.
Lastmonth, my father, my brother, my sister, and I poured my mother’s ashesinto the Gulf of Mexico. Mom passed away in Florida early last yearafter an intense battle with cancer. She was cremated and her ashes layin a bag inside a little white box in my father’s closet until April 1.
On that day we motored out into the Gulf on my father’sfriend’s boat. Most of the way, the little white box was on the seatnext to me, my hand lightly resting on the top. I felt close to mymother in a way that I can’t ever remember feeling. At times I sensedthat she would smile at the thought of her youngest child, her preciouslittle boy, accompanying her on this particular journey. Once I felt asense of urgency, a panicky tugging in my chest: “We’re almost there.There’s very little time left. I will need to say goodbye very soon.”And a deepening gratitude for the life she gave me. And a sharp regretfor things I did and didn’t do, times I didn’t call, things I didn’tsay before she died. And more that escapes me right now. During thetime it took us to go from the shore to our stopping place in the Gulf,I felt like I lived a lifetime. I was utterly present to every emotion,every feeling, and every thought, each moment holding riches.
Westopped at a channel marker near Sanibel Island. As four egrets watchedsilently from atop the marker, my father spoke briefly about mymother’s life. Then I opened the bag and handed it to him, and hepoured her ashes into the deep, blue water. The ashes held togetherlike a gray cloud, and moved very slowly down into the water and awayfrom us.
My father’s hand wasn’t very steady and some of the ashfell from the bag onto the deck of the boat. I scooped it up with myhands to put it in the water. It was coarse and gray, with little bitsof bone. I felt every grain, and allowed myself to know in a deep and clear way that this had been my mother’s body.
When Iwas done, I took a small hose from a compartment on the boat and veryslowly washed her ashes off my hands and into the water. It feltacutely like a final goodbye, and I cried. I drank in everymicro-moment of the sadness, grief, and gratitude that flowed throughmy body.
I am not exactly sure why I chose to write thisemail, except maybe to begin speaking the truth of my experience. Ihope that it will provoke you to explore your own mystical experienceswith life and death, and when you do, I invite you to practice beingpresent to every moment of it.