Chat With Miss D.

This is a letter I wrote to a friend, shortly after we each experienced the deaths of someone extremely close to us.


From: Jeremy Isaac
Date: Thu, 03 May 2007 18:17:00 -0700
To: Donna Christina di Matteo [donnachrismisschemistry@aol.com]
Subject: Re: Kent's Ashes

Hey D,

Your experience with Kent's ashes is, just like any part of the grieving process, completely normal no matter how odd it feels. I say this directly from my own experience, because even though I knew I wanted to keep Moe's, I had no idea what to do with them, or the rituals that purport to deal with them. But once I went through the experience of picking them up from his doctor's office, it became another chapter, written in stone, but one that wrote itself with surprising ease.

When I read in your letter about your emotional experience picking up Kent's ashes, I couldn't help but sigh with recognition. My experience with Moe's ashes was equally emotional. It all turned out well, became an important part of accepting his loss -- even though if you'd asked me beforehand, I would have thought it was just a ritual with no real significance. Well, it turned out to be pretty meaningful in spite of my lack of expectations. I guess I just made the experience my own way, and it seemed to bring me closer to Moe, and his memory, in a way that felt special and unique to us both. I just felt really close to him in a way that I wasn't expecting. His urn is a sleek little maple box (again, I had an incorrect assumption that it was going to be this gaudy, unwieldy thing). After I brought it home, the sun had set and it was a little windy. (His last few days alive had been full of sun and unseasonal splendor, and this dusky, blustery evening spoke with surprising fluency to the fact that he was gone.). So I wrapped my coat tightly around me. I took the box and sat with it in the places we used to go, where he liked to relax out in the sun, and under trees and such. After a time "hanging out" with his remains in our old hang-outs, I placed the box on my nightstand, and it's been there since. I may not be the neatest person in the world, but I take care of what's important. So this maple box with his name on a small plaque has sat on my nightstand since. It's deceptively small, considering what a tall guy he was (and even larger in character), but I manage to dust it off gently every week, and keep it separate from the coffee mugs and cereal bowls and various gadgets that inevitably collect on the more "active" side of my night table.

I have dreams about him regularly. Usually they're not that pleasant, but that's just because most of my dreams are that way lately. In those dreams, he's often mysteriously still alive, and I don't know what to do in them. I've had several half-days, and even full-days that seem dedicated to him, whether planned or not. One day last month, after procrastinating on the task for a while, I gathered all of the photos I had of him, from so many different stages of his life (and mine). And with very little effort, my computer(s) became reliable trustees of his memory, providing for me (and for Moe, it felt), a catalogue of memories -- an easily browsed collection of his essence, of all that he was and all that he changed in my life (and others').

He's so much to be proud of, that it often overwhelms me, as if the pride is too much for one person to contain. I watch certain movies, I listen to certain songs -- these all have specific meaning to me, of course, and evoke the importance of this main character in my life's story. Some days are just ordinary days where life has gone on after he's left. But other days, my life, my actions, and my perceptions are imbued with the special meaning he gave to me -- Something that no other creature ever has or ever can again. I'm reminded of a eulogy from an important literary figure for his departed friend:

"Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most human."

Talk to you soon.

- Jeremy