Monday, October 04, 2010
Dear Dad, your birthday, goodbye
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!