Ashes to ashes, dust to dust (proverb): From ashes we rise, and to ashes, we will return; life will one day come to an end
Someone asked me recently, what we did with the ashes of My Baby and Summer. I’m not sure anyone knows this, but we still have them.
All I ever wanted, was to bring my babies home. I wrote about this with respect to My Baby, here.
When we found out we had to go into hospital with Summer, it was a Tuesday evening. They said we could be admitted then, or come back in the morning. I decided to come back. I wanted one more night at home. And when I was in the shower the next day, I cried and I apologised to Summer, out loud, for not being able to bring her home.
When she died, I contemplated bringing Summer back with us. The hospital probably would have let us temporarily, but we decided not to, as Summer needed to be sent to Great Ormond Street for genetic testing etc and it seemed like a time-dependent thing.
With My Baby, I intended to scatter ‘her’ in our back garden, on her due date. I mentioned here our intention to scatter the ashes, but when it came to it, it was raining and grim and not at all what we wanted. After that, we never discussed it. Even with Summer. (I’m actually pretty sure James doesn’t even know where their ashes currently are – top right drawer, in the dresser, in our bedroom).
When we collected Summer, work on our house extension was underway and our garden has been a complete mess ever since. I always thought I’d scatter their ashes, at home, with us. But now we’re having the garden completely renovated, it’s nearly done… and I don’t think I can do it.
In all bruthfulness, I think I want to scatter their ashes in ‘happier’ times, when our family situation is less in the air, more complete. I think I want our imaginary tangible child there with us (is it weird to make a sibling scatter ashes? Probably, but they won’t know what they’re doing. It’s fine, I guess, as long as they don’t try to eat the stuff).
Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust
In my culture, Indians are not supposed to bring their family member’s ashes home. Who knows why, “bad luck” probably (as if a person recently turned to ash, isn’t bad luck enough). My dad didn’t come home, my mum collected him from the crematorium and kept him in my little brother’s backpack in the front garden, my mum didn’t sleep at all that night. I know she still regrets not bringing him inside.
Some people keep ashes forever, but for Indians, it’s not the done thing. I know I’m not “supposed” to have them inside, let alone in my bedroom, but I don’t mind. They weren’t “supposed” to die so soon either.
One of the reasons why I am able to hold on to them though, is also because of my culture. Personally, I am strangely ‘comfortable’ or ‘at peace’ with them. Hindus are often made aware, that there is a difference between the body and the soul, the vessel and the life-force. We saw the life-force leave Summer and her body left behind. So although I can still carry her body, I carry her spirit very differently. I just know that she’s gone. I actually find it more upsetting carrying around a bag of rice that I weighed out to measure Summer’s exact birth weight, than her box of ashes. But that’s just me and I think I’m probably abnormal, so I sincerely hope that these comments don’t offend anyone. (Long story, but I didn’t even scatter my own dad’s ashes, we couldn’t afford for us all to do it, perhaps that’s why I’m less “attached”).
Saying all that, I still can’t bring myself to part with them. They are not ‘just’ ashes. I have never wanted to scatter them far away, and what if we move house?!
James and I have discussed our own deaths, we’d both like to be cremated and our ashes to be mixed and scattered together (we don’t care where, just as long as they’re together). So yep, if one of us dies first, the other has to hold onto the ashes and wait. But if we get our ideal, we’ll go together, or within 6 months (I joke with James that if neither of us die of a broken heart within 6 months, well, we’ve done the other a disservice!). Saying this, maybe we’ll wait. Maybe we can wait and Summer and My Baby’s ashes can be mixed with ours too, truly returning home, one day. I really like that thought. I hadn’t even considered it until now.
N.B. Many people may think this discussion morbid, but I think it’s sensible. Why not discuss your final wishes? It makes it a lot easier and kinder on those who remain, knowing they’re doing (and not guessing at) what you wanted. I often think about my death or funeral (nothing fun please, just a lot of speeches and a lot of misery, haha), I guess that’s what happens when your dad dies when you’re 11. As an aside, my mum’s a hoot, she wants a full-on party and her ashes to be put in a firework – you know, to literally go out with a bang. I kinda love that, my dad died on Bonfire night, so her plan feels quite fitting.
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