Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ashes

I picked up Jaeger's ashes and brought them home. I thought I would be okay with it. Wrong. As soon as I got in my car, by myself, with her ashes, the "noise(#4)" started.
I started thinking about how I went to the mortuary, by myself, to pick up Caleb's ashes. People had offered to do it for me and my husband said we could go together but we would have to wait until his day off....then we would have to get a sitter or ask my mom to watch the kids while we went and I didn't want to do that because I didn't want to have to put on "the brave face" when we got back...so one day I just drove over by myself to pick them up. I brought the "urn" we had chosen and the smaller "urn" that I wanted to put a few of the ashes in that we would not scatter. When I got there, I was told that there wasn't anyone there who could do the "ash transfer" and could I come back later?? Fuck. It had taken just about every ounce of emotional courage I could muster to drive over there at all and now I had to do it all over again. It took me a couple of days to go back. When I finally did, they gave me the "gift bag (#8)". I drove home that day, with my shiny white gift bag sitting next to me on the front seat...my dead baby's ashes tucked away inside, his little i.d. bracelet from the hospital, right on top. That's how I brought my baby's ashes home. I didn't even tell anyone I had done it. My husband finally noticed that the urn was on the table with all of the sympathy cards a few days later. "Oh honey", he said lifting it up, "I would have taken you."
"It doesn't matter," I told him. "It's done now.".
I did the same thing when I went to pick up Jaeger. Didn't tell anyone I was going. Just went and picked her up, it made sense to me. I mean if I could pick up my son's ashes alone, why not my cat?
But I didn't plan on the noise. It started with the, "I just did this, just a few months ago, I drove around with my son's ashes in my car. " No one driving past me would have ever known that for that one drive, my car was a hearse, and I was a funeral procession. I didn't get to have the police motorcycle escort, I didn't have a sticker in my windshield that said "FUNERAL", people didn't have to stop their lives for even a moment and wonder who died and did they have a long life, or offer up a prayer or thoughts for the dead while I drove past. To the outside world I was just another car driving by...they had no idea that inside my car was a mom and her dead baby, and that I was bringing him home.
Standing on my front porch, holding ashes. Caleb's then, Jaeger's now. "Welcome home." I think. My hands start to shake. I can't find my key because I don't want to put the ashes down. So I am just standing on my porch, holding his ashes and then the tears come. I am helpless.
("NOISE"/Chorus)
I do not know how to do any of this.
I don't want to do any of this.
I don't want my son in a tiny silver box.

I don't want to have to think about where to scatter his ashes.
I don't want to know that for the rest of my life there is no escaping this
reality of my dead baby.

I don't want to mourn him for the rest of my life.
I don't want to miss him for the rest of my life.
For the rest of my life he will always be
My dead baby. My dead child. My dead son.


I put Jaeger's ashes in the box that hold my other cat, Hennessy's, ashes. It felt good to put them together. They were happy together, they both lived long lives and it was the natural order of things. It was sad to lose them both but it was something I expected and now I know they are both together again, forever. There is a certain amount of peace in that for me.
I still have Caleb's ashes on my dresser. All of them. They sit next to the cards I made at the mortuary, with his tiny foot and hand prints. I made 10 of them so everyone in my family would have one. I still have all of those too. Everyday I walk by my dresser and I see his ashes and think, there he is...still waiting for me to put him to rest. Everyday, I can't.

("NOISE"/Chorus)

There will be no peace, even if I can figure out what to do with his ashes. The NOISE won't stop. The words may change slightly, but they will still say the same thing. My baby is dead. There is no natural order in all of this. Parents aren't supposed to bury their children. Parents aren't supposed to live their lives without their children. How do you find peace throwing your child's ashes into the wind or into the ocean? A tiny baby, burned into millions of tiny ashes and then scattered about where ever the winds may blow? I fear it would only make me feels as though he is just that much farther away from me...how is that peaceful? Leaving him on my dresser feels worse. That I have not finished, that I have abandoned him and his little life because I haven't figured out how to say good-bye. I owe him at least that, a proper good bye. How do you say good bye when you never even got to say hello?

In my mind, I am still standing on my front porch, holding his ashes. I can't put him down to look for the key, it doesn't matter if I ever open the door anyway...and I am shaking because I know for the rest of my life I will always be holding his ashes.

9 comments:

Missing said...

You are so right. We are not supposed to bury our children, they are supposed to bury us. THAT is the natural order of things.

I don't know what to say about the noise...I am a little sad I cannot hear it anymore. I know it must be still there, I can almost feel it. But I cannot hear or make out any words.

As for ashes, I still have jessica's right here in our living room on the shelf. She's here with us and I don't really have any plans of scattering her in the wind. Who knows, maybe one day I will, maybe one day I won't.

CLC said...

A similar chorus is always playing in my head. It's not right that you should have to decide what to do with the ashes. I think I would keep them too, just so you know that Caleb is near.

c. said...

That's so interesting, your perspective on Caleb's ashes because there is no other place I want C@llum to be than with us. His ashes sit beside my bed on the nightstand. The thought of scattering them anywhere breaks my heart; he's so far from me already. In my mind, I see those ashes as being the only tangible link to my little boy.

You will figure out the best way to scatter Caleb's cremains. Don't pressure yourself to have it done right away. This experience is so difficult as it is; you don't need these self-imposed time-limits or pressures.

And the noise. It's like white noise, isn't it? It becomes deafening after listening to it for so long. I hope it won't always be there.

Happy to hear you brought Jaeger home to be with Hennessy. XO.

charmedgirl said...

oh god...the ashes. i don't believe in burials but at least it's tidy? i don't think that's the right word at all; at least there is a prescribed beginning and end.

i never in a million years thought i would feel protective over her ashes. they sit now in an ugly gray plastic bag on my nighttable, and i think i should buy an urn. then i think i should scatter them. then i don't know what to think. i'm on the porch, too.

niobe said...

This is such a sad, sad post. For so many reasons.

Coggy said...

I can't let J's ashes go. I just can't. I thought we would scatter them but I know at least for now that's not possible.
For me I think having the ashes here is comforting, it would upset me to think of him buried somewhere. That his body was there under ground. I think that would send me insane.
I did post a while ago that I wanted his ashes mixed with mine when I died. I want to make him part of me again. That still feels like the right thing to do.
Sometimes that noise becomes very loud for me. sometimes I find myself shouting it. I just say over and over that I don't want to do this. I don't want this to be my life. Futile I know but I can't stop it.

Amy said...

Kalaky,
I have just been inducted into your blog, via another.

I am so sorry that you have to have your son in ashes as do I. It sucks and there is no other word I can think of for it. I have my sons ashes in a necklace I wear all the time and some that sit on my headboard.

After reading some of your older posts I would very much like to see pictures of your baby. I think it is important that you share with someone and I would love to see them. I don't care if they're pretty or not! I just want you to know I am not one of the creepy people. They are the only pictures you will ever have and should be shared! If you don't want to I understand but you can email them to me at tractorpoor at aol dot com.

You are in my thoughts and I will check in on you frequently!

Rosalind said...

This is a very sad post..We buried Micah and I don't regret that decision. She's buried with CN's grandmother...although I often wonder what I would've done with her ashes if we had chosen cremation.. and I always end up with the same thought..she would've stayed here with us.

It's nice that you brought Jaeger and Hennessy back together. I find their story very cute... I just read some of your past post and I too love cats

Julia said...

I think each of us finds what is comforting. We buried A, but as Jewish law generally forbids cremation, it wasn't much of a choice. But since that is the context in which we have always considered what happens to the body, it was comforting to us.
I am sorry peace about this decision eludes you. That seems like an additional and extra cruel burden.