August 20, 2007

Remembering the Dead

On Saturday the 18th, Snickollet had the memorial for her husband John (aka “Goose Husband”). She invited people who wanted to be virtually present to light a candle at 6:30 EST. At 3:15 my time, I started assembling objects. I knew I wanted to light a candle for John and one for my Mom. We never lit one in Seattle for the 10th anniversary of her death. It seemed right to remember Mom and pray for Snick and her family all at the same time.

As usual, the assemblage took on a life of it’s own. I wasn’t sure why I was placing things until I’d finished and realized the symbolism:
  • Two incomplete circles of stones. Two life-lines cut short by cancer.

  • Two candles. Two lights that burned in the darkness and warmed those around them.
  • My Mom’s circle had more stones, closer to a life ‘full of years’. John’s was tragically short.
  • At the beginning of Mom’s circle, seashells. For her these symbolized baptism, new beginnings, fresh life. She often used shells when she spoke on starting life with God. She would pass them out to participants as a meditation aid and a tangible reminder of a retreat.
  • At the beginning of John’s circle, a black egg. For beginnings and for a Goose.

  • In my Mom’s circle, a march of quirky figurines. The nail figures were sculptures that graced our library shelves growing up (I ‘appropriated’ them when I left for college). Mom loved little sculptures and she loved to worship YHWH.
  • I didn’t really know John, so I didn’t want to presume about his life. I did put a little metal stone with “Believe” near the end of his circle.
  • At the end of Mom’s life, a metal stone that reads “Sabbath”. She was trying to learn about rest and about simplicity in her last couple years of life.

  • For both of them, the upward twist of driftwood: beauty emerging from the scouring and buffeting of life.
After I’d finished setting up, I heard the door open behind me. I thought it was the dog and turned to shoo her out of the room. It was Jrex. He’d come to join me. Instantly I wanted to sob. He was here and her husband isn’t. He’d known this was important to me and came to just be with me. Jrex knows the power of presence. No words, just standing there meant a lot to me. I also realized I wanted to be alone with my little ceremony. It felt very private (even though I took pictures to share with the ‘net…don’t ask for logic). I lit the candles and we were quiet together for a bit. Then, quietly he walked out of the room and shut the door gently behind him.

I watched the two flames for a long time.


Snickollet said...

I'm blotting away tears as I sit at my desk reading this.

What you did was so beautiful. Thank you. All the objects you chose were perfect and gorgeous.

Give that husband of yours a hug from me. And yourself, too.

Rachel said...

What a beautiful tribute.

Inkling said...

Okay, I'm swallowing tears as I sit here. That was so beautiful, and your creativity and thoughtfulness are incredible here. The depth of meaning in each symbol spoke to my heart today, and showed me what it can mean to take time to remember someone.

Anonymous said...

How wonderful, beautiful and never cease to amaze me OTR.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Beautiful

I too continue to be amazed
by you and little bro and
little sis, et al.

OTR sister said...

Thank you for taking the time to do the candle ceremony. I love the gathering of symbols. Perhaps M, T and I can do something similar for the anniversary. I wonder what M would bring?

It will give me an opportunity to try to answer the question "Where is Grandma?"

You're an extremely thoughtful person.

Kimberly said...

What a beautiful tribute. I really love the stones and the meaning behind all that you did.

Sandra said...

It looks beautiful.

Aimee said...

Wow. So beautiful and thoughtful.