ashes to ashes . . .
My father died at the age of 89 in February 2008. My mother died at the age of 89 in November 2008. By that time, they were no longer married. And had lived apart for quite some time before they died. Nevertheless, my mother was there when a Tibetan monk was chanting Prayers for the Dead for my Dad. He had his eyes closed towards the end. My mother walked up to his bedside and his eyes flew open. She looked at him and nodded. He seemed to nod back, closed his eyes and died.
My mother died painlessly in November the same year after being diagnosed with abdominal cancer in August. She had little to say as well. Both of them were cremated according to their wishes. That year, we had ashes from both of them that we took home. For awhile, I held onto them, not knowing where, exactly, to release them into the world. After awhile, I thought that it was not a good idea to keep them wrapped up, and that in order to release their spirits wholly, our little packets of dust needed to be dispersed in a kind fashion.
I finally decided to go to a nearby beach on the Atlantic coast of New England. It was twilight, my favorite time of day. Nobody else was there and it was low tide. I walked to the water’s edge and said goodbye as I released each packet of ashes. They swirled in the cold sea water, the dust settling as I carefully shook out the bags. I felt that it had been an okay kind of ceremony. As I turned around to walk back to my car, I took a few steps and looked down on the rocky beach. Not two minutes after I had finished releasing the ashes than there appeared two small rocks that stood out, one next to the other. One had a white straight line through it, and the other, a white circle. I felt that this symbolized my father (the straight line) and my mother (the circle.) I picked them up, feeling that it was an affirmation from them, or from the powers that be.
In about four more feet up the beach, I looked down again and saw a large flat rock with a wave indentation on it. It looked to me like an I-Ching hexagram, or a symbol of Yin and Yang. It felt to me like the Universe was giving me comfort that this release of my parents’s ashes was appropriate and well-received, in some way–or maybe it was just their way of saying a last goodbye.