About two weeks ago, Marty and I were invited to attend a memorial service for our friend, John, and witness his ashes being scattered in Long Island Sound. About fifty close friends and relatives arrived at the home of the deceased around 3:30 p.m. so that we could be at the beach at high tide, around 4:00.
People wrapped themselves in coats and scarves, in anticipation of cold winds coming off the sound, and we walked a short distance to the beach from the home.
It was a cool fall afternoon without other beach lovers in the vicinity. The children in the group didn’t hesitate to splash in the water and draw figures in the sand.
John’s son, Christian, donned a pair of short pants and carried a large plastic bag containing his father’s ashes. John was a big man and there were seven pounds of ashes. Christian spoke briefly about his Dad, and about how he always waited for the tide to be high to enjoy a swim. There were tears in his voice as well as in his eyes.
Christian waded into the sound just above his knees. We watched as he fed the voracious waves small amounts of his father’s remains until they were all devoured. A very emotional experience!
Even without the accoutrements of a formal funeral, saying good-bye to a parent is traumatic. You become part of the older generation when your parent is gone. Every family must choose the form of closure that is right for them. Yet by disbursing the ashes of a loved one, you in effect, return the person to nature.
We quietly walked back to the house. A gracious reception awaited us.