The afternoon we had another ash scattering outing. This time my mum, my brother and I went to take a shake of dad to my older brother’s grave.
The ritual has emptied a little with the repetition. Dad is not in this bag of dust so I have no tears to shed here. But we walk through the motions without quite knowing why.
The trip is heavy with anticipation but it’s a sort of New Years Eve – you never really not quite what what you’ll feel when the ball drops, the clock chimes. Emotion may flood ever you like a tidal wave or you might find yourself looking around wondering what all the fuss is about as the streamers fall.
Today turned out to be more of an ironic pastiche than a true tragic grave scene. We laughed at the ’emergency muster point’ sign, out in the middle of a bare grassy field – ready for the rising? We lurked self consciously till other mourners wandered on, scolded the dog as she tried to thieve furry toy tributes from babies’ graves and wondered what words to say to whisky-damp ashes on wet dirt. It doesn’t seem to matter when there is no one here to listen.
My brother took care not leave too much ash in one spot in case it looked like a vampire had been staked… Today we are mourning tongue in cheek.
Death is very much a part of the family lately, a familiar part of our routines, our conversations. The reaper may be grim but he’s come to be a bit like an awkward cousin – he says the wrong thing, makes everyone more than a little uncomfortable, but nonetheless deserves a place at the table.
Death is not a dark shadow, an icy chill. It is an empty space, a breath, an end and a beginning. Graves are graves. Ash is ash. What matters is long gone and that is all we came here to know. There is a peace in that. Life is elsewhere and what we love will not be left behind.
Yet, it seemed fitting to spend our day in a place where the dead outnumber the living. I wrote before about the droves falling off the earth – perhaps these green spaces are the airstrips they leap from, streaming for the sky.
Standing here I cannot help but think of the skeleton beneath my skin, my borrowed bones. My life seems just a blink against the long ages my bones will live after I have cracked, like a dry chrysalis, to free them. It seems my life is the exception, the Friday night dress up. My skeleton is playing dress up for just this short spell and it seems that I am the tiger suit…
When I think of these borrowed bones waiting to shrug me off back into their bare beauty, I can disown myself a little. I don’t know what I am pinned to, what hook holds here, but I am not this frame.. not this flesh.
Perhaps I am also waiting for the mother ship to call me home…