For Christmas, my dad gifted me with a beautiful silver box, sealed, personalized, and full of my mother’s ashes. Each of us children received such a present and the unexpected feeling of holding something so precious and real, but uncomfortable all at the same time. I know my feelings about the soul, and how I so surely sensed it leaving at the time of my mother’s death, but still it seemed so much like I was holding her again all these years later. Because in that box, were bits of bone I’m sure, and pieces of DNA and pulverized detritus of her. And it’s that body gone and the space it took in this world that freaks me so. I’m absolutely mesmerized by how we live and how we die and the rippingness of it all.
Anyway, several months after my mom passed away, our family came together to disperse her ashes as she wished, in sea waves, with birds circling in blue and dipping to wind music, and I thought that was it. The last of my mom. In the physical sense, you know? So it came as a bit of a surprise to know my dad’s had something of “her” still, even after 14 years.
It reminds me of an episode from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (I know), when Buffy’s mom died unexpectedly, and Buffy had to call 911. On the phone, she told the dispatcher that someone had to come get “the body.” And then her face froze with the shock of having to refer to her mother that way. As a “thing” almost and no longer a person. For an hour or so, Buffy sat with “the body,” and waited. Soon enough, people came to collect and Buffy watched with relief and desperation as the lifeless figure was absconded with, and taken forever. That is, until her sister tried to reanimate the body with an ancient spell and bring a half-alive mom back from the ground, dirt clumped to bloody heels and all, and this is where the analogy kind of falls apart, except I’ve often thought, “What IF I could bring my mom back?”
What this all means to me and its circumspectness is no great revelation to anyone who has read my blog for any length of time, but my question is: What do I do with this box? Because it’s as if my mom came back.
Given my enduring ambivalence about having my mom taken so early and my obsession with the darkness of death and how I don’t face reality easily, it’s hard to imagine propping the box up on a dresser and seeing it every day. But it’s what I’m driven to do.
Or put it in a drawer? Hidden but there?
I welcome all ideas. Except ones involving re-animation.