Some things in life are just ineffable. No matter how one might try, words just cannot express the thoughts and emotions surrounding some things in life. That’s where I’m at this week. Ineffability is my middle name.
My dad died back in February and chose to be cremated. The one thing he asked me to do after his death is to make sure his ashes make it to rest in California in the same columbarium where my mother’s remains were placed. The whole process freaks me out. Kids: I do NOT want to be cremated when I die. It’s too friggin’ hot and the thought of burning just creeps me out to the nth degree.
Currently, my father’s ashes are stored at the funeral home. The reason it makes me uneasy is twofold. First, the Catholic Church teaches that it is not respectful to store human remains in one’s home, they need to be laid to rest. Burying the dead is a corporal work of mercy. Next, it freaks me out to even think about bringing human remains into my home. Not even for a minute.
Which brings me to part two of my panic attack. I don’t think I can travel to California with an urn full of human remains. Not in a plane, not in a train…….not by boat or by car. For the record, I can’t send him by FedEx or UPS, either. The thought did cross my mind, however. My brain has pondered this for 5 months. Agony. Of course, I cannot tell you exactly why it sends chills up my spine, causes my heart rate to elevate and sends my anxiety through the roof. It just does. It is ineffable.
I started having nightmares about this about a month or so ago, which prompted me to get serious about planning the trip. It’s 2,769 miles to the cemetery and I need to get him there. Now. Or at least plan it now. I think it will bring me some peace knowing I have a date, that I have plans to get this done. Marty also volunteered to carry the urn so that I don’t have to, which also calms my anxiety.
I’ve really given this much thought. It’s not the person whose remains are contained in the urn. While my father died angry with me and never told me that he loved me, it’s not the person whose remains are contained in the urn that are the real problem. It may only increase my anxiety a smidgeon. If it were morally acceptable, I probably would ship him via FedEx, but I promised I would do this…….regardless of my feelings for the man. I will follow through on my promise to my father for Jesus. Jesus is the same reason I moved him out near me 5 years ago.
Tonight I decided upon the dates and looked at flights. Marty offered to go with me and it will be a sort of pilgrimage. I grew up in California, well, until I was 10. We may be able to hike a little and see a few places that bring back some of the few good childhood memories I have. I am sure it will be a whirlwind, emotional trip. It will be nice to make new, happy memories with my best friend despite the ineffability of the difficult emotions I know will be dancing around in my heart. One of the great things about Marty is that he doesn’t try to fix it, he just lets me feel and be—- whether the emotions are doing some sort of moshing in a mosh pit in my heart or dancing to some crazy dirge. He is there for me and will silently let me know it’s okay.
It will be okay. I know it will. God always turns the ashes into beauty. Isaiah 61:2-3, oh how God has done this for me in the last 5 years. “……to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes.”