Monday, May 06, 2013

The weight of the past

My aunt has moved to RI and a couple of weeks ago I spent an afternoon unpacking boxes in preparation for her arrival.  I put her clothes in the closet, unpacked her kitchen tools, pots and pans.  I hung some of her decorative items and moved a few pieces of furniture.  And then opened a box labeled ''T  Ang".  It took me a moment to realize it was the urn of her step son's ashes.  There was another box labeled with his mother's name.  And finally, a bigger box with several items, including the urn of my aunt's late husband, who died just a few months ago.

That is a lot for a widowed woman to carry around, if you ask me.  An entire family boxed up and moved from place to place.  Between them they have come from Newton MA, Florida, and New Jersey and have all wound up in my aunt's house in RI.

I think this is one strange little consequence of our moving away from communities of faith.  We have now been tasked with dealing with our dead on our own.  There is no priest, no parish, no group that comes alongside us and helps us deal with our loss.  In my aunt's case she is too overwhelmed to really know what to do with all these ashes.  She has vague plans, but it all seems like way too much for a seventy something woman to manage on her own.  As I was mulling it over I wondered if it was too late to ask a Greek Orthodox priest to help put all these folks to rest.  Or perhaps we can buy a plot at Swan Point and have them all interred together.

Nguyen says he wants his ashes spread in the little lake in his home town of Dalat, in Vietnam.  I wonder, though, if I am going to want to travel 15,000 miles to arrange that.  Or will the kids?  Is it really fair to ask that?

I honestly don't care where I am buried, as long as it is in hallowed ground somewhere.  Sprinkle holy water on my casket (or urn, if my survivors insist) and cover me with the beautiful earth that God created.  Say a prayer and walk away.

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