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In the midst of a storm. 

We scattered Dad’s ashes today. We have some saved for one more area, but most of them went in his most beloved places around the ranch. 

How blessed Dad was that he had so many favourite spots all so close to his house. We live in a beautiful area and I have a lifetime of memories of walking over a hill or just glancing west and saying look at that view. Isn’t it amazing here?  

He’d told us a few places he wanted to be scattered and today we went out and tried to honour his wishes. 

Of course after days of 30C weather and a beautiful, sunny day; when we went out there were storm clouds blowing all around us and thunder crashing to the north and the west. But, in the midst of the storm where we stood together it was calm enough to do what we needed. 

There in the midst of the storm we quietly and lovingly said our prayers and sang our goodbyes and sent out our love to Dad. 

How lucky we are that we have each other. Blessed that we had Dad, blessed to have each other to walk through this with, blessed to have this beautiful area to walk our goodbye. I’m not doing so well with the goodbyes, but I’m  thankful I have these people to do the goodbyes with. The love and the shared memories will bind us together. 

I was thinking as we were doing this that its no wonder I and millions of people before me have stopped and dedicated life to figuring out the meaning of life, why are we here? Where do we go? What becomes of us? Because if all we are is just reduced to those ashes then it’s hard to see the point of it all. 

I am grateful for my faith because I believe that there is something after life. The curious and impatient human part of me would really appreciate knowing what that is. Again, a time when being able to call Dad up on the heaven phone would be useful. He could answer all those questions for me.  Is he still Dad and watching over us? Does he still know he’s Dad? Does he remember life here? 

Those are my questions, but I think I would also like to know for him – is he happy? Am I on the right path to discovering my spiritual truth? Was it scary? 

At the end of the day, for me, it all just comes back to faith. I have to believe that Dad is more than those ashes. That the part of Dad that made him Dad is still an energy being somehow and somewhere. Something that shines as brightly as Dad’s soul did can’t just cease to exist. 

The happiness moment was celebrating Dad’s life and remembering walking and talking with him in the areas we chose today. I miss him so deeply but I’m so thankful to have known him and to have had his unconditional love and strong guidance. 

One of Dad’s favourite places along the ridge. We walked there together many times.   

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Where are you?

We have had many discussions about where to “put” Dad. Again, one more interesting thing about cremation versus burial. With burial you know you have a plot (hopefully), you have a date and time, and you go in there. Much more ambiguous with cremation. There are so many different options as to what to do (or not do) with the ashes once you have them. We are still in the “not do” phase, but eventually we will do something.

Right now Dad’s ashes are in his room and I have made an interesting personal discovery about that. I firmly believed that I didn’t care where his ashes went. I knew where he wanted them, knew where we’d talked about scattering them, knew that Jacob in particular wanted a place to go and “remember Grandpa”. But I felt that for me it didn’t really matter where the ashes themselves were. I believe Dad is with me wherever I go, I feel him when I’m out walking, in the garden, or sitting on the deck. What did it matter where the ashes actually were?

Yet, I’ve noticed something. Every time I go into his room to grab something I stop, turn towards where the urn is and have a little conversation with him. Nothing heavy, but how are you doing today? I miss you, I hope you’re doing ok. And then it usually goes a little off kilter Is this as weird for you as it is for me? I can’t believe I’m standing here talking to you in that little box, yet here I am. And even though I really should be self conscious, I keep on babbling away about what’s going on in my life.

So, maybe it does matter where his ashes are? I was pretty surprised by this revelation. Even when I became consciously aware of doing it I couldn’t make myself stop. Just as I wouldn’t have walked through a room he was sitting in when he was alive and not have said something, I can’t walk through the room where he is now without having a little conversation. Weird as it is, it feels completely natural and it makes me feel happy instead of sad. It actually makes me much sadder to talk (or write) about it than it does to actually do it.

It’s been a whole month since he died. The longest month of my life. It feels like forever since it happened and yet….. it’s only been this one month. How can that be? How can I miss him so much my throat hurts, still not believe he’s really gone – how can all this time of such heartache only add up to one month?

Dad, I miss you. I feel your love still surrounding all of us, but what I wouldn’t give to walk out to the garden and find you crouched over some flower happily taking a photo.

Happiness moment today: I had to go to the library and download some things for my course. In general I don’t mind being unplugged at home (no internet), but once in a while it’s a bit of work to get the things I need. I decided instead of being productive and working I would watch old music videos like this one, and this one (because who wasn’t pounding it out on the dance floor to this beat?), and this one (OMG these guys are hilarious in concert – I’ve never seen a group of grown men have so much fun), and this one (that one especially because he was such a badass and then cried the entire time he was on Celebrity Apprentice). Songs I used to listen to in my early 20s when I never would have guessed I would end up searching for happiness 20 years later. Back then my happiness was easy and obvious. Ride my horse, hang with my friends, be fierce in knowing what I wanted. That me needs to spend some time with present me and remind me of how much easier and fun things used to be. It was a fun couple of hours spent tapping my toes.

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Ashes to ashes 

We picked up Dad’s ashes today. I am discovering that there are a lot of things about cremation I hadn’t thought through. But here we are, and we will hold hands and walk together through this part as well. 

I spent some time trying to figure out where to put the ashes in the car. Do I buckle them into the front seat? That felt weird. I decided on the trunk. Weird but hopefully safer. I felt kind of bad putting the ashes in the trunk of the car, and worried I’d get in an accident….. I’ve watched way too many bad sitcoms making fun of cremation mishaps I suppose. We made it home safely I’m happy to announce and I avoided any of those awkward moments. 

Even though I was completely pro-cremation and had been certain it was what I would want for myself, the reality of it is turning out to be much more emotionally difficult than I would have thought. I understand we are not of the body. I understand that the Dad part of Dad left the building way back at the hospice. However, the reality that the body now is also gone seems to be a little much. Like he was just erased or something. 

I don’t know, I suppose I will work that through in my heart at some point. It does interfere with my heart’s strong denial that Dad is anywhere but out for a walk, or out in the garden. Alive. 

Dad’s ashes had to stay at my place for the afternoon. It wasn’t until after supper that I packed up my laundry and the ashes and headed over to Mom’s place. I was standing in my yard – laundry on one hip, urn balanced on the other side – looking behind the barn where they were chasing cows, and then looked up at the sky and said just so you know Dad, this tops the list of the weirdest things I have done. Then I walked over to the house talking to him the whole way. It was weird and nice all at once. 

Today my happiness moments were served to me three ways: physical, emotional, and spiritual. 

When we came home from school I lay down on the couch to rest for a minute and ended up studying my eyelids for an hour and a half. Not only have we had an exhaustingly emotional few weeks, but I don’t  have blinds on our windows yet and it’s only dark from 11pm to 4:30am. Not enough sleep time. The nap brought me physical happiness. 

After supper I went for a walk along the ridge. It’s where Dad used to love to walk. Not only did I feel closer to him, but I had some awesome walking companions. My emotional happiness: 

   

The view from the ridge. 

 

When I got back from my walk Jenna had done some chalk art expressing her feelings about her Grandpa’s death. It gave me spiritual happiness.   

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