Scattering His Ashes
If any woman was in love on her wedding day, it was me. I remember the joy and whole body consuming emotion when I had found a person that amazed me in every way. And, we were starting our life together. I remember kneeling across an alter looking into eyes that said more than words ever could. Love was infinite and eternal, and for the first time in my life I could really grasp what the infinite felt like. At our reception, I remember saying a few words. My marriage was conducted in a temple, a place that allows a limited number of people to preserve its holiness. Our ceremony was performed for eternity, not just till death. I explained to my friends who were unable to attend the wedding ceremony why we chose to get married in the temple and consequently limit who could attend. I said, "I wouldn't want Isaac for one day less than eternity." Those words raced through my mind after I lost Isaac. What did it mean that we married for eternity? Eternity minus sixty years? On my wedding day, I couldn't have foreseen that our time together would be so short or that life could be so fragile. It felt like the world was just beginning. I was no stranger to pain, but nothing in life prepares you for the day you scatter your husband's ashes.
A few years ago, Isaac told me that he wanted to be cremated and that he wanted his ashes scattered in the Rio Grande. I laughed at first, but he told me this on more than one occasion. The second time he told me, I promised that I'd do it but also informed him that I wouldn't scatter all of his ashes because I wanted to bury some of them with me.
A week ago, Isaac's family and I took a road trip down to Big Bend National Park so that we could walk down to the Rio Grande to scatter his ashes like he'd requested. It was a warm and beautiful day. I had a headache the day before. I could feel that the headache was from the stress and weight of this impending event. When I opened the urn to obtain the ashes, I could feel the gravity of what we were about to do. His ashes looked different than I had expected. It felt depressing to see that my husband's body was now reduced to dust (not that it is much better to be buried six feet under). There was no room for any amount of denial or escaping the loss. His ashes were physical proof that what exists now is minuscule compared to what existed before.
We found a spot that allowed us to walk right up to the river. It was a spot that Isaac and I had actually visited before. One time Isaac and I had driven his mom to the border so she could go visit her family in Mexico. Since we were down there, we decided to drive through Big Bend before heading back. We stopped at this place where several Westerns were filmed, and it just happened to be the place that we stumbled upon years later as we searched for a place to scatter his ashes. It was the perfect place to scatter a cowboy's ashes. It felt special that it had also been a place that Isaac and I had visited before. Each person in the family was able to scatter some of his ashes. Some friends had sent some roses, and Isaac's mom had made some little boats for the kids to send down the river. It was beautiful. I imagine it was just the way Isaac had pictured it.
Some people have asked me why he chose the Rio Grande and I'm not entirely sure why. Isaac loved Mexico and he also loved the USA. I imagine that he wanted to be in the two places he considered home. I'm amazed when I look back and realize how much Isaac told me about his wishes if he died. I'm grateful that I'm able to honor his life and his property the way he hoped. I'll always wonder what he felt or thought that made him share so much about death. Sometimes I feel sad because I think he knew he'd die young and I imagine that would feel so heavy. Other times I feel happy for him because I know he spent his time on earth doing the things he valued most. I can't imagine Isaac having any regrets. He always followed his heart. I'm so greatful for his example. He taught me how to slow down (though I don't always do it). He taught me that I can find beauty in any place if I'm willing to see it. I imagine he'll continue to teach me as I reflect on his life and our memories.