“Let’s pretend, let’s pretend this really didn’t happen.” I muttered with hope. But it did.
Does the show really have to go on?
The memorial was sincere and pointedly appropriate. This day was to pay respect tomorrow is to say goodbye.
The next morning we pensively drove to her favorite ocean beach Peter’s Pond; just a few of us were invited, her confidents, her family. Even though it was mid spring the heavy scent of honey-suckle lingered along the dirt path. We disembarked; I walked slowly dragging my feet in the sand unearthing my sadness with each stone I upturned. Her sister was already waiting for us sitting on a beach blanket embracing her sister’s vestiges and staring at a poster picture of our beautiful girl. What a rock star she was, dressed in her favorite faded Foreigner tee shirt posing with her ever sultry mouth. We were all there. We sat on the blanket speechless for some time observing the endless briny sea. The beach was eerily empty for a holiday, peaceful and perfect. It was time to say good-bye.
Her sister opened the box and with some effort pulled out the baggie within. She carefully untied it making sure none spilled and handed a clamshell she had found on the beach to each one of us. Each time she dug deeper scooping ashes, my heart pulsed and quivered. I watched this ritual as the crushing emotion began to clog my chest. The thickness of guilt and sadness began to take hold. My hands trembled as I accepted my shell. We separated and were allowed to do what we all felt we needed to do. I don’t know what the others did. I walked alone to the edge of the water and knelt in the wet sand.
I prayed to myself as the gentle waves lapped at my knees. The ocean was calm, as though it obeyed my will and bowed in respect to my moment of silence and reflection. “Are we just ash and bone and grit in the end?” I said as I fought through the tears. “I’ll never forget you. I’ll love you forever.” I whispered. I paused and found the courage to let my anguish flow freely like the liquid in front of me.
I placed the shell in the water and ceremoniously set it adrift. In that drowning shell I saw my deceased mother, my friend, all my fears I’d been harboring for so long drifting away. I watched until my friend was consumed by the tiniest wave. She was gone. An abysmal numbness consumed me. Unexpectedly, a gentle-placed touch on my shoulder brought me back; a touch signifying that we are still here and we are loved. I wanted the reassurance of his touch to linger, but so many things we want never last. My eyes began to swell with tears, as they often did, but I was not inconsolable. In the past grief and conflict overwhelmed me. A new vow, I pledged to myself to be in the here and now, not let the consumption of despair consume me ever again. I was no longer shaking. I was so fearful to release her, but now I know why she wanted to be buried here. I know why she had to come home. She was coming home for us. Her ashes, scattered beautifully as she was, consummated the celebration of her life by impressing her existence in the sea and sands the earth and the sun. She was at peace now. At peace, happy, and the one thing she wanted most of all to be part of this beautiful place. We withdrew to the blanket salty eyed and subdued, staring out, onto the misty horizon watching the plover’s play.
Upon leaving, I reached into my pants pocket and sensed the jingle shells I had brought from her memorial the day before. I had penned her name, Trenny, into the iridescent pink, yellow and orange shells. I dropped one by one unto the sandy slope till none were left. I turned around and witnessed a glorious shimmering path. Perhaps, one day I will find one.
“Love and fear,” she said were the only two forces that mattered in this life and she was only going to see things through the eyes of love. I think she might be right.