When I was ten, I went to my first funeral. It was my grandfather's. He died peacefully in his sleep, in his own warm bed, in his home. I remember his body, he was stiff to the touch; the warm flesh that was once there was cold. I remember he looked very handsome, he honestly looked like he was sleeping. That's a beautiful way to go, peacefully, asleep; little to no pain. I remember thinking, "Well if everyone goes like that, then that must be okay!" I was very naïve then.
You all know some of my story, my mother died tragically when I was seventeen, she had a massive heart attack on top of a blood clot that wasn't caught in time. She didn't die at home. She died in the hospital. I refused to go to the hospital. Why you may ask? The thought of seeing my mother's dead body made me sick to my stomach, I didn't want to remember her that way. At that time, I didn't think she died peacefully, she wasn't in her warm bed, she wasn't home, she was at that goddamn hospital. I hate hospitals. I've always despised them. They always smelt like death and despair.
There's different things you can do with a loved ones remains, you can bury them, spend thousands of dollars to make them become a tree (which I think is a very beautiful idea), or you can cremate them. My mother chose to be cremated, which I personally liked better because that meant I didn't have to see her body in a casket. I know now that not seeing her body was the biggest reason why I didn't have closure. I had no proof that she was actually gone except a death certificate and an emerald marble urn that held her ashes. Also a butterfly necklace that held them as well, but I didn't see them get put in there. So again, I had no proof. I spent years feeling that hole grow bigger and bigger in my chest with nothing to fill it. My mother was dead and all I felt was pain.
I ended up going slightly crazy years later; was in an outpatient program for over a month. I was able to come to terms with her death and get a firm hold on my anxiety and depression. I was more motivated than ever, I was stronger than I ever was. For my father's birthday, I bought him a beautiful Celtic cross necklace that had a place to put someone's ashes in it. He didn't have my mother's ashes so I thought it would be an awesome gift for him. That meant that I had to physically open my mother's urn and place her ashes in his necklace. I kept telling myself that it was going to be okay, that it was going to be easy. I can do this, I can do this. It's alright. It will be okay.
Boy, was I wrong.
I will take you on a step by step run through on the day that I opened my mother's urn. Urn's aren't weightless, they're pretty damn heavy, and you have to carefully place it upside down to unscrew the bottom. My hands were trembling as I practically pried the thing open. Once it was loose enough, I used my hand to unscrew it. I was breathing heavily (I'm actually having slight anxiety right now as I'm writing this) and I take the bottom part off. I remember sitting there, staring at the hole. I glance inside, my heart literally sank, tears form in my eyes, and I start whimpering. I put my entire hand in the urn and I cried. This was the first time in almost ten years that I have touched or seen what was left of my mother. I gripped a handful of those ashes, I moved them around in my hand. It had the same consistencey as sand but there were other things that I felt that definitely didn't pass as that. My head was rested on her urn as I silently sobbed and kept moving her ashes around. I kept saying, "Oh Mama...Mommy..." I was a child again. I was touching my dead mother's remains, and I was in a child like state of mind. It almost felt like tunnel vision, it was just me, in that room, with her. I don't even know how long I sat like that, I didn't want to remove my hand. I thought maybe if I kept my hand there long enough she would maybe appear; that was a very impossibe fantasy. When I finaly took my hand out, my fingers were dusted with a slight grayish tint. I remember glancing at the sink and start sobbing again. I don't want to wash my mother down the drain! You can laugh, because I am. It sounds very Norman Bates-ish, doesn't it? I didn't wash her down the drain, I ended up wiping the ashes on my shirt. So, there I am, using my clothes as a napkin to wipe my mother's remains on me.
Now, it was time to put the ashes in my father's necklace. In the packaging, they give you a little plastic funnel. But they don't give you anything to scoop it in there. So what do I use? A spoon. A fucking spoon. Hey, at least it wasn't a fork. Now I'm crying again, because I am spooning my mother like I'm having a bowl of cereal! Again, I have to laugh because you can't be so serious in life all the time, my mother would want me to put some humor into this.
After spooning my mother, I discarded the spoon because there's was no way in hell I was going to have anyone put their mouth on the thing that scooped my mother up. I can't make this up, this is real life, all real, all raw. I ended up putting some of her ashes in a little baggy to take home with me, at this point I'm done crying and now I could probably pass as someone on the brink of being legally insane.
I felt relief, almost. I felt like that hole in my heart was finally filled because I went years without knowing. To many, it may seem odd but it was one of the most beautiful moments in my life. I finally felt free and more alive than ever before. I put myself in a situation where I was face to face with my mother's death. I was face to face with what was left of her. That was my closure.