Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another.

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bones of Our Dead

Journal entry 30

Evelyn’s bones sit by my left hand, cremated and ground up, held in the urn that we used for her father. I only have one urn so Stan had to move to a muslin bag and now rests in the drawer. Our cat Vashti is curled up in a pine box on the shelf. I compare my collection of bones. Stan’s are darker than Evelyn’s; our cat’s are whiter.

Evelyn’s physical remains bring comfort, as if part of her spirit has stayed with them, keeping her close, like sitting on a grave in a cemetery invites the dead near. Bones cut through illusions. The longer I sit with them, the more I accept the hard truth that our loved ones die.

I hold Ev’s fragments in my hand like the venerated relics of a dead saint. I have not known a more compassionate person, remembering her trips out in the evening to comfort someone who lost a job or whose son was losing his way, long telephone calls late at night helping students with problems, and sitting with Giff as he was dying of AIDS, even though doing so tore her heart apart. The last dozen years she cared for others while struggling with her own physical problems. I watched her light candles on the mantel to bring presence to those who felt abandoned. 

Tonight as dusk settles over the earth, I build a bonfire like the peasants in the Middle Ages, and burn the bones of old dreams to dispel the evil spirits that cling to them. The burning embers push light into the darkness and light my way into the unknown.

Bones — the weight and shape of love, what we come to in the end.

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