Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Final preparations for 'goodbye'

It's surreal.

Check trail conditions, get diretions (I haven't been there in nine years), pack food, camera, water. Sounds like any other hiking trip. Oh, except, don't forget the wooden box of Aimee's ashes.

This box contains the vast majority
of Aimee's ashes
By the time many of you read this, we'll be on our way to Mount Pilchuck. It should be an interesting hike, considering the latest report I can find from the trail, from last Saturday, says there's as much as 16" of snow at the summit, and at least some snow the entire way. Since then, it spent several days raining here, which in the mountains likely means more snow. I really hope the trail is even open, and we can make this journey. Ironically, I've been recalling that original hike from nine years ago, when the weather was perfect - sunny and temps in the 60's or so - and not a trace of snow anywhere.

As I mentioned in my post the other day ("Collision Course"), my therapist told me how important this was as a way for me to say goodbye in a way that I had control over, unlike the day she died. But it hasn't been that simple.

My goodbye is not anyone else's goodbye, but to some of them it seems to feel like I'm imposing that.

I'm thinking of Donna in particular. She is having a VERY hard time with this. We had a good talk last night. Well, I talked and she cried and talked through her tears. Bottom line, she is not ready to say goodbye, and may never be. I get that. In most cases, the loss of a child is so much different, and deeper, than the loss of a spouse. If I try to see things from her perspective, I've moved out Aimee's clothes, gave away many of Aimee's books, packed up her jewelry and other personal effects (saved for Rowan in a large black trunk), and sold Aimee's car. Now I'm literally getting rid of Aimee herself, or at least what's left of her physical presence. It's easier for Donna to see what is gone than what I've kept, and that's understandable. She insisted she wasn't angry with me at all, just hurt at the loss of her daughter. But regardless, this event is really hard for her to accept.

The pain seems rooted in one major difference between Donna and I in this grief - I need to, can, and will move on. Donna can't and won't. I don't say that with even an ounce of recrimination. It's the nature of our different relationships we had with Aimee, and the different way we process grief. Donna clings to physical abjects and reminders. I cling to memories and emotions.

And some of those memories are tied up in tangible objects. I kept cards Aimee gave me. My wedding ring. Her wedding dress. Lots and lots of photos, letters, and journals.

But this 'object', this box of ashes, this is going to go. It's essentially the last thing of hers that I'm holding onto that I ultimately don't want to keep. Besides, it was her wish that her ashes be scattered. And I've known I needed to do this since shortly after Aimee's death.

So I, along with my best friend, will hike that mountain (God willing), and set Aimee free in the beautiful nature she loved so much.

And I will say my goodbye.


  1. I am sorry. I hope tomorrow is a special day and that it goes as well as can be expected. I cling to everything from physical items to memories. Currently I am sensing/feeling like my loved one is around me "all the time" but I am sure when we take the ashes in the Spring to his "place" I will still have a tough time. How are you feeling about this - is she always around - do you not necessarily tie her to being the ashes? Just curious. We opted for cremation so that he would always be 'near' and in the home, but these days I am thinking they aren't anywhere specifically physically, they are with us whether we are out with the kids, at home, or out of town. Always with us.

    Much love and support.

  2. just an idea to consider;

    give donna HALF of aimee's ashes. it might sound a little strange at first, but it might help.

    when my father died, i was ABSOLUTELY DEVASTATED!!! he had been cremated (and his wife kept his ashes), and i felt that i had no 'place' to go 'visit' him. i was heartbroken.

    one day long after his death, i was given PART of his ashes to keep... and i still have that beautiful little urn. i LOVE 'having him around' (both my brothers were given ashes as well). it didnt need to be "all of him"... part was all i needed.

    many loved-ones left behind even scatter ashes at multiple places... my point; it is OK to divide up our beloved's remains.

    maybe donna would like to have 'part' of aimee? in that way, you do what you need to do now, and donna can take her time. as you said, it is only what remains of her 'physical being'... what you knew, loved and cherished about aimee is not in that wooden box.

    you might even think about saving a portion for rowan... some day in the distant future, she would likely LOVE to have a part of her beautiful mommy (speaking from a daughter's point-of-view, i know i would!!!).

    just something to think about pat.

    (on a different note, maybe the weather conditions on mt pilchuck is suggesting you wait a bit longer?)

    will be thinking, and praying for you.

    1. Actually, we did this at the very beginning. Justin, Donna, and I all have small urns with a small amount of Aimee's ashes. Donna's grief is not that the ashes will be gone, it's that I am moving on and she can't. It's understandable - completely so. I don't fault her a bit, and she doesn't fault me. It's just hard for her.

  3. Many thoughts and prayers going out for you Pat. What Zelda said in a way makes sense, Donna bore her raised loved and made her what she was. Don't get me wrong, I grew up with Aimee, went to school with and she is and was a beautiful loving person, inside and out. Aimee will always be cherished and loved by everyone who knew or came in contact with her. She touched so many lives, and one day Rowan to will touch many lives. Yes Aimee is physically no longer here, but her love spirit and memory will always be with you.

    God Bless you Pat,
    thoughts and prayers to you
    Rowan and family.

    1. Eva, rather than type my response again, check out what I wrote to Zelda. I think it answers the concnerns/ideas you guys had. :)