Now there were about sixteen of us gathered in that rocky place. Because all of my mother’s living grandchildren were standing there in some odd formation, seemingly together, yet apart, I keenly felt the absence of my deceased daughter Mimi and Lina’s daughter Jesse, also prematurely deceased. Then Lina, recovering from recent knee surgery, was driven on to the beach in a jeep and deposited close to the boulders. She carried a bunch of beautiful coral-colored roses and distributed a rose to each of us. “Here,” she said as she gave me a rose while managing to avoid looking at me.
Francesca and Hannah climbed down on the boulders getting as near as possible to the waters edge with an earthen pot Hannah, a ceramicist, had made for the purpose. There the cousins cast the ashes into the water. Silently, we each took a turn dispersing the rose we held.
Just at that sacred moment, two harbor seals bobbed up a short distance from the nearby swans, almost as if to satisfy their curiosity. A murmur went through the group. “How fitting for her,” I heard someone behind me say. I was unable to discern who it was; my emotions were flooding me. But they were right. As the roses floated on the water, the swans gracefully paddled and the seals cavorted. It was a totally fitting goodbye.
I am not sure but I believe some of the cousins momentarily clasped each other as we all slowly disengaged. Recovering from my intense weeping, I took great comfort in the presence of my baby grandson Benji who had initially been cuddled next to his mother on a large boulder, and was now comfortably asleep in the baby sling over his Uncle Michael’s shoulder. Michael’s face was struggling with barely suppressed tears as we held each other in a hug next to the sleeping child. Francesca came up to pat me soothingly as her tears slowly coursed down her beautiful face. She held a deep love for her Nana.
I unsuccessfully tried to lightly kiss Lina and Arnie goodbye as they climbed back into the jeep. As with their son Robert, whom I had moments earlier attempted to hug in the emotion of the moment, there was no reciprocation. The car door slammed and they drove away.
It is now fifteen years since that bleak day. I have not seen my sister since.
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