Mum died last August, and until yesterday her ashes were in our home, just sitting out of the way. She wanted to be scattered at the Quoile river in Downpatrick.
Around a dozen friends and family gathered, and we took turns pouring Mum’s ashes into the river, tossing purple flowers in for good measure. Mum had a green thumb, and she liked purple. The weather was decent – cloudy, but the rain held off. Across the water a heron stood in the shallows, minding its own business. Mum loved birds.
Ashes in a cheap plastic urn from Roselawn. A few kilograms of dust is the last of a person. One of Mum’s friends said ‘Kerry, you were only a small thing, but you were a force to be reckoned with.’ I’ll remember that. As I tipped the very last of Mum into the water, I whispered goodbye, and she was gone. Mum is now back to the earth, and there’s a big empty plastic jar in my car boot.
After the impromptu ceremony, a few of us ate and drank a lot.
Now it’s the day after, and as my hangover recedes, I feel a little lost for something to do. Scattering Mum’s ashes played on my mind recently, and now that it’s done, I feel… I dunno… Maybe a little lighter, but also like I should be doing something.
I was thinking the other day how crazy the time was, leading up to Mum’s death. She was sick, and I was starting a new business. I look back and it’s mostly a blur. Back then I made a deal with myself – when it was all over, I was going to take a month off, to do some things purely for me. But that hasn’t happened, and I doubt it will any time soon. Stuff needs doing.
The cliché is true: you have to keep going. Your choices are narrow. You either cling to the past, and let people down, or you let go and live. Letting go is hard. In fact I’m finding difficulty ending this piece, because it means I’ll have to move on. A big part of me wants to stay here with Mum, but there’s a voice telling me to close this chapter and allow myself some distance from it. The voice is right.