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.
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.
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.