Thursday, January 18, 2007

Pocket Memories

I live in a part of the country where I have exactly one heavy winter coat and I wear it about three times a year at the most, which is about as often as it is below freezing here.

As I slipped my hand inside my pocket this morning, I felt something oddly shaped and plastic. Wondering what it could be, I pulled it out and discovered it was a small bottle of celebration bubbles with a tiny pink flower on the top.

I instantly knew where I had worn this coat last. It wasn't to a wedding or a graduation but to a celebration of life. Fiance's grandfather died last year. I didn't know him very well, but he was a very neat fellow who lived about one of the most interesting stories of a life I've ever heard. There had been a more traditional celebration of life about a month prior to the one I wore the coat to, and at this one we would be scattering his ashes in a small stream that ran by where he had lived.

That was my first trip to the commune where he and his wife and friends lived, even though I'd heard a lot about it. Right after the gate we passed a large field after which we started to see the mounds. Everyone there lived in a mound that sat below the ground and was covered inside by plaster, and each one had its own unique touches like highly artistic hobbit holes. Dogs ran free, and everyone was truly, genuinely, effervescently friendly.

We joined the community in walking down to the stream which rested at the bottom of a steep hill. At the top of the hill was a small table on which sat the tiny bottles of bubbles, dried leaves, and Sharpie markers. Each person took some bubbles to blow into the air and wrote something on a leaf to place in the stream with him once his ashes were sent to float downstream and out into the world. As the leaves, the bubbles, and the ashes were all set free, I think most everyone truly felt that they were free to cherish the memories of him with as little pain as possible.

I had never been to any service like this nor have I since, but as I pocketed my pink bubbles I couldn't help but think that this was the way to go.

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