Thursday, August 6, 2015

Scattering Jess's Ashes, yes again.

Jess's Ashes
So this post is not for those who are primarily interested in my artwork, it's mostly to commemorate my daughter's life, and the milestones I face and experience in navigating her journey into wholeness in her Universal life and the continuation of my journey here in my Earthtime without her. My blog is about many facets of the things I experience, and my apologies to any who may wish to skip these parts.

It's kind of funny, and sort of a challenge, that when we were in the funeral home in Portland, choosing the container for the ashes we would scatter on the beautiful hike, the true tribute to my daugher, I had no idea of the volume of ashes of a human body and I made a sort of mistake in choosing a container that was too small. I didn't know til they turned the ashes over to us that I would have "leftovers."

After we scattered her ashes in the beautiful, proper ceremony with all her Lovies, we had to bring some back on the plane, labeled with a steel tag with a number on it, in a very official looking totally sealed up white box. I thought it would kill me when we went through security and instead of my daughter going through the process (which had made me cry when we brought her home to heal) they took the box out and spent an e t e r n i t y scanning it. Oh LORD. I had also purchased two little containers to transfer her "leftover" ashes into, a private little ceremony I had by myself late one night in my studio after we got home.

So I've known for several months that I would need to scatter these "leftover" ashes here in PA, and have contemplated various places--wanting to put them in places that Jess loved and felt safe in. I didn't know when I would do this. I wasn't looking forward to it. I knew it would bring pain. But it would also bring release, freedom, and a kind of peace.

Yesterday was a day of good work, learning new technologies for bead pattern making, and I felt good, but what I've discovered through this process is that a little time must be spent each night honoring and acknowledging my daughter, which I usually do by writing in my journal. Well that night I went a bit to the dark places--realizing that I am waiting in the night for something that will never happen. She will never call again. I will never see her again. She will not visit. I could not save her. I was bouncing into the acceptance phase of the dang chart they provide so you can monitor your coming to terms with this kind of loss.

I thought about the phone conversations we had had and wondered what I should have said or done. A huge piece of me and my life was missing. It hurt so much. I wanted to run away but there was nowhere to go to outrun this.

And that was when I felt quite certainly that it was time to scatter the rest of her ashes. So I called my sweet sister at about 6:30 in the morning, miraculously, she was awake, and said she would come to be with me. Then I went in the bedroom to my husband, who was also miraculously just waking up, and, standing by the side of the bed, flopped myself across his body, which is a position we often take when we're talking and he's sleepy and I'm not, and I asked him if he would take me to do this and he, in all his wonderful kindness said "Okay."

My sis arrived at about 9 a.m. I haven't seen 9 a.m. in all the months since Jess died because it's hard to sleep--well not so hard to sleep but just awful waking up to reality. (Blog post coming about how I've learned to make waking up a good thing.) So by 9, I had somehow taken a shower, my hubby had fed the pups and let them out, and he'd eaten some toast while I drank coffee. We were ready to go.

Special Territory
We drove to a place here in PA where my hubby and I have spent a lot of time, and my daughter also spent a lot of time. It's out in beautiful Nature, and you can see for miles around. It's very special territory. We've had picnics there, buried beloved pets there, made love under the trees there, and skinny dipped in the sacred waters there. I knew Jess also loved to swim there, so this was one of the places I chose to scatter her ashes.

Mourning Moon
It is a beautiful place, and today the moon was in the sky in the morning--beautiful white against robin's egg blue.

There is water in this beautiful place. And Jess loved it. In this photo I tried to capture the very last of the ripples that Jess's ashes caused when we scattered them, just like the beautiful ripples she made in everyone's lives whom she touched. I loved watching them flow so gently and peacefully across the water.

Jessica's Ripples
We buried the little cardboard container that I had tapped goodnight so many times--it was one of those with a photo of a sunset going all the way around it. We picked a spot under a huge old oak tree, and both Rob and I dug the hole. At first the roots were protesting a bit, and we didn't want to harm them, so I went over and pulled back a flap of the turf, and when I tucked the little sunset container (now empty) into the hole, it sort of popped in under the turf like it was perfectly happy to be there. Something about that felt so right. We said our prayers and started walking back to the car.

Happiness amidst the sadness - Earth's sweet messages
We were nurtured by sweet Earth's profusion of happy flowers along the trail back to our car. My husband went to the edge of the forest and picked a handful of gloriously sweet, sunshine warm blackberries and we had a little feast of them. Somehow that seemed so right as well.

Then we were off to our second destination for the other container of ashes to scatter. This container was made of ceramic pottery, with pictures of little black cats walking among abstract blues and greens. I had chosen it because Jess had had to send her beloved cat Jack across the Rainbow Bridge just after she returned home--he had cancer and it couldn't be cured. So I knew that Jack would be the first to meet her on her new journey, hence the little container.

Along our walk we were accompanied by a beautiful hawk, perhaps the same one who was with us on Mother's Day earlier this year.

This journey today wasn't about "dumping ashes," it was about acknowledging places Jess loved while she was here. So for the second acknowledgment we went to a way up high place--the Campbell Trail at Rothrock State Forest. Rob and I had gone there one New Year's Eve--the first one after all our kids left home, to welcome the new chapter of our lives. All of our kids know this place, they've all been there at one time or another. It's a beautiful view.

The view from the little parking lot next to the Campbell Trail

When I first got out of the car I noticed someone had been celebrating something--there was all kinds of glittery stuff mixed in with the gravel of the parking lot. All those sparkles felt like a good sign. You can't really see it from my photo, but they were sooo sparkling in the sunshine.

Glittery welcome
We started our little hike across the ridge of the mountain to the beautiful clearing where Rob and I had gone on our wedding day with the kids to make a cairn. We built it of six rocks, one for each person in our family, a commemoration of our union.

Beautiful pathways flanked by ferns
We walked and walked, thinking to ourselves, "We are so not 20 or even 43," since the last time we hiked this trail was about 13 years ago. It's just beautiful and I was so happy to be surrounded by fragrant forest, soft breezes, absolutely perfect weather.

The developed side of the valley
We hiked to the clearing on top of the ridge where on one side we could see the valley, with its farms and development, and the beautiful more undeveloped land on the other side.

Ah, sweet freedom in undeveloped land.
I chose this side to scatter the rest of my sweet daughter's ashes. They flew on the wind and landed across puffy ferns and sparkling white rocks. And then my little container was empty.

All done.
We sat and smoked a cigarette, centering ourselves for the hike back. We soaked up the vibes of others who have been here celebrating life and love.

Little firepit where I'm sure good times have taken place.
The beautiful view.
And then we hiked back. I tried to capture a photo of two hawks that circled above us--just one while we were scattering Jess's ashes, and two after we were finished, but my phone camera didn't do a very good job.

Nonetheless, it was perfect.

On the way back I was contemplating what the heck I would do with the little ceramic container and I decided to commemorate this milestone day by collecting some of Nature's bounty to put inside it, partly because Jess and I always used to bring home a rock or some bark or a stick or something when we hiked--both of us did this throughout our lives, and I didn't know she did this until I took care of her home, and discovered her containers of rocks and things. I brought some home and put them with my own, and they're lovely to have around. So on this day, I collected 9 acorns, some twisty bark, a couple of shiny limestone rocks and a few weathered sticks, and that's what I put into the little ceramic container. Somehow cotton puffs for the bathroom just didn't seem right....

These ceremonies today had little to do with Jess herself, and much to do with a milestone event in the moving on of our lives. She's whole and huge and empowered and I feel her peace and joy underlying everything. It resides inside me, and all around me.

It is only my little ego that cries.

So we came home and Rob had a firefly glass of JD whiskey, which we purchased for Josh's visit a few weeks ago, and I had a blue polka dot shot glass of cognac, and we took a nap in our bedroom with the pups, with the curtains blowing and the sunshine sparkling on the leaves outside. And I wiped my tears with one of my grandmothers handkerchiefs.

It was a good, milestone day in moving forward and letting go. Now when I see the little ceramic black cat container, I lift the lid and inside I see the bounties of Nature, and I know that it IS all right.

Love you Jess, always.



  1. Love this. Love you. Namaste, Jen.

  2. Thank you sweet girl. Love you too. Namaste.