Thursday, 11 March 2010

Ashes, pieces, dust

I did it.

It was a vile week of grey skies and perpetual rain that seemed never to stop. I had to make an appointment and when the day came the skies cleared and were bursting with blue and white. I like to think you had a hand in that. I was nervous and it felt strange going back to the cemetery. The place where I said goodbye to you. I sat in a stuffy room and waited. There were displays of fancy urns and leaflets about all the different things you can do with dust. Scatter it in remembrance gardens, make it into diamonds and wear it, keep it encased in silver or gold. I suddenly felt a bit self conscious about the Tesco bag I was taking you back in. I could have at least bought a Waitrose one, was I being disrespectful? I knew you would tell me to stop being daft - dust is dust "Take me out in a bin bag" you said. I felt a bit better.

I hated the room and, unfairly, the woman that scrutinised my signature and said they didn't match. "I haven't been a Stevenson long", I said , " I haven't really practised my signature". She released you to me. I waited till I got outside before I let the tears fall. I walked across the road and onto Wanstead Flats, I cut through some trees, silver, brittle sunlight streaming through the branches and found myself atop a little hill looking down at a beautiful lake filled with ducks and geese. I crouched in the still sodden ground and took you out. You were heavy. I want to see you. You are coarser than I thought and there is a lot more of you than I imagined. You are grey and if there is one thing you were never; it is grey. This is not you but it's the closest I have been to you physically for 4 and a half months and it's comforting. There are people milling around, feeding ducks, enjoying the sunshine and each other's company. I am crouching in mud on a small hill muttering to a box of dust. I think it's time to move on.

I feel better. I'm so glad I came to get you. It was the right thing to do. I stride across the flats. I swing you along with my steps - I think you might enjoy the ride. I'm actually starting to enjoy having you by my side. I decide to go to Tesco's and get some shopping and a coffee. I put you in a trolley and chuckle to myself. You would have thought this was hilarious. I sit with you next to me on chair in the coffee shop and whisper my mischievous thoughts to you. When ever I go to the village of Leytonstone I bump into someone I know and I really want to now and pretend I'm taking you out for a little excursion as if the most normal thing in the world. I know you would love this joke. But I have no one to practice it on which is slightly disappointing but probably for the best.

I brought you home in a bag with wine and prosecco to toast your homecoming. It's not you. I know that and I have never been into the reverence of the pieces left behind. I have been to my father's grave three times in 18 years as these things mean nothing to me. People live on in the memories and the love in your heart. But it's nice having your pieces here for a while. Cassidy and Kitty are curious but underwhelmed. I invited Cassidy to come to pick you up but he declined as he said it would be boring unless he got to see the incinerator. He is your son in more ways than the slenderness of his frame and the depth of his mind.

Your pieces are home

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