Monday, October 04, 2010

Dear Dad, your birthday, goodbye

Dear Dad,

Yesterday, on your birthday, we all went out on Nick's boat one last time.

We headed down by the lovely marsh where we'd gone a couple years ago, after taking Nick's boat out for Father's Day. Or was it Mother's Day? Now I can't remember. It was quite warm; it must've been June.

In any case, that day was gorgeous, and we all have good memories of it, and you'd wanted us to let you go in the water, so this seemed like a nice, peaceful spot.

Pat said a few words. We asked her to, and I knew she would make your goodbye beautiful. And then Lucy wanted to speak, which surprised me, but which was perfect, really.

I didn't have any out-loud words, and Mom didn't either.

And then we took turns scooping your ashes and letting you go.

I don't know why I was surprised how dark grey they were, or how heavy, but I was. I was also surprised at the size of the bag - I expected it to be bigger.

We don't reduce to very much, do we? I think it's better that way.

As I said, we took turns leaning out over the back of the boat. Many of your ashes caught the breeze, and you were beautiful, in silvery swirls, floating out towards the horizon, like flocks of tiny, distant birds in flight.

The ones that didn't, the ones I released too quickly, billowed in clouds in the dark brown water, and sank heavily. I felt careless, letting you sink, rather than making sure you flew. What if you get stuck?

But Nick said some of you will stay, and some of you will get taken by the current, and you'll head back to the four corners of the earth.

I was hoping for a warm, sunny day - the kind you like best - but fall had arrived and the light was thin, through dampening clouds, and it was windy, with a chill in the air. The threat of rain hovered, but held off.

While I'd have felt better letting you go in blazing yellow sun and heat, and you hated being cold, it's true that you were so energized on boats. You'd sail through the worst storms, arriving elated, while your companions were less than so. So the day fit.

Also, we're not sure of the legality of ashes in the Potomac, and we know you'd enjoy that aspect of the adventure as well.

I miss you, Dad. I didn't want to say goodbye last year, and I didn't want to say goodbye yesterday. It was hard. Terribly, exhaustingly hard.

But truly, I hope you are at peace. We all do.

As Pat said yesterday, quoting Hamlet, Good night sweet prince: And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!




  1. Lisa, this is beautiful. I hope that your pain shared is pain lessened. Many blessings to you and your family.

  2. Thanks, KB. I appreciate it.

  3. Wow. That was so perfectly said. I lost my Oma this past spring, and I feel as though I can relate. She was my everything. Thanks for this. It made me think of her in a beautiful way today.

  4. *hugs*

    I was thinking of you, yesterday. Still am, of course.

  5. Beautifully written, Lisa.
    Big hugs to you and your family.

  6. Your words are beautiful Lisa, just as the love you have for your Dad. My heart goes out to you and your family.

  7. So wonderful...I've been struggling with some ugh-type grief stuff and as always, you make me feel not so alone. :) Thinking about you all.

  8. That was a beautiful post Lisa. It brought tears to my eyes. “Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.” — Herman Hesse

    hugs to you and your family.

  9. what a sweet post. hugs to you.

  10. So beautiful and fitting.

  11. This post made me ponder. I have both my parents ashes. I think I am afraid of the finality of that ceremony. I commend you for going forth with it even though your wound is still so raw and painful. Hugs to you and all that sail with you on this journey. Peace to your dad and your sweet mom and hugs to you my Internet friend.

  12. There are no words, but beautiful post.

  13. Big hug to you, lady.

    We released my father's ashes on a river in southern Colorado. We'd vacationed there when I was a child, and he loved it more than anywhere we'd ever been.

    It was a very warm fall day, still, kind of muggy, but when I threw his ashes across the emerald water, then witnessed the sparkle you describe so beautifully, a cool breeze blew down the canyon.

    I believe it was Dad, bidding us farewell, and thanking us for carrying out his wishes to be cast upon that lovely water. The goosebumps were certainly not from the cold, and the sense of peace that came over me for the first time since his passing made me once again begin to breathe for real.

    I hope that you too can find some peace in this, Lisa.

  14. Simply beautiful. And you made me cry, damnnit.

  15. Shelly - I'm glad to hear that. Thank you.

    Jessica - Thank you, my dear friend.

    Hillary - Ah, thanks, Hillary. Hugs to you.

    HKW - Thank you, sweet friend. I appreciate it.

    Tiff - I'm glad to hear that. I always like things that make me feel less alone. And grief alone is so hard.

    Kate - That's a lovely quote. Thank you so much.

    megabrooke -


    Laura - Hugs hugs. Thank you.

    Lisa - Thank you. Hugs back.

    Lynn - The finality hit me much harder than I expected. I expected more relief - for us and for him. Hugs to you, too. Thank you.

    Just Plain Tired - Thank you very much.

    Stevie - That sounds beautiful, and a lovely goodbye. I believe he was there, bidding farewell. Thank you for sharing, and for the good wishes.

    J - Oh, I'm sorry. That's hard.

  16. Please remember that the loss is sharp in the beginning. As time goes on it is less so. But it is never less profound. Remember the journey and not the end. Best,

  17. Absolutely beautiful. Gigantic hugs to you and yours.

  18. My father would have been 67 this coming Saturday. I'm very certain that I will be thinking of him, of this post, and of you and your father as I go about my day. Much love to you, Sweetpea.

  19. Lovely post,

    Hugs to you all - big ones


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