Maggie’s Ashes

Speaking of getting things in the mail, Saturday I received Maggie’s ashes via US Postal Service.  No ominous music played.  No fanfare of horns.  No million bells ringing.  Just a lone post office employee walking up my front steps with a cardboard box addressed to me in hand. I pondered if he had any inkling of the significance of that little brown package he so precariously balanced on the top of the gate while I signed the return receipt.  No doubt he knew little or even cared (which, after all, is what we really want given the number of plain, brown-wrapped packages some people get.  You know who you are.)  But, regardless, his obliviousness gives me pause.  How many times have I been standing in the middle of someone’s emotional crap storm and been blissfully unaware?  How did I treat them at that oh-so-delicate moment?  Did I make their situation worse or better?  Could I get better at spotting those moments and maybe helping?  This whole experience has given me so many new questions, so many new perspectives.  I definitely have a new set of eyes.

The arrival of the box was unremarkable except in its unremarkable-ness.  I wasn’t upset.  I didn’t cry.  I gently took the box and set it where it now lies, right beside me on my desk where I’m sitting as I type this.  I didn’t open it.  I’ve touched it maybe six times but all the emotion that I think should be there, isn’t.  Or, it is and I’m not ready to face it.  Nah, I think I see it for what it is – a box with nothing but the ashes of my sweet angel’s body inside.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.  It is not her nor does it represent her in any way.  In fact, it’s a strange artifact in my house not too different than if some stranger were to send me a rock in the mail.  I promise I burn with way, way more fire in my heart for any one pair of shoes from her side of the closet.  Or any shirt.  Or any dress.

It’s freeing, really, this lack of emotional attachment to this box, or rather, the contents thereof, sitting here beside me on my desk.  Any emotional umbilical cord would be an additional encumbrance to my life, selfish though in that it’s all about what I need, that I need to remain attached to her so that I may move on.  “Remain attached so that I may move on,”  I just typed.  What a funny and illogical phrase.  How can a ship set sail if it stays tied to the moorings at the dock?  Interesting, no?

If I were to succumb to the need to associate my memories and love for her to the contents of this box (or her shoes, clothes, toothbrush), it would eventually erode at what was (is) precious about her to me.  The process of worshiping the box, the shoes, the clothes would take the place of reflecting on her, the real her.  I’d waste energy on protecting these things rather than on investing my time in rebuilding who I am now with her inside my heart.  I don’t have time to tend a grave.  Life is too short.  Besides, why would I want to hang around in a graveyard (where ever that may be) when I can just carry her with me where ever I am, be it dancing, wakeboarding, shooting skeet, playing Frisbee, or just riding my Harley down 183 with tires around my middle.  For that truly is where she’d want to be.  Not stuck in a box somewhere, even a box sitting beside me on my desk.

18 thoughts on “Maggie’s Ashes

  1. I completely agree that the most cherished thing we all have is the memory of Maggie with us in our hearts. It’s so surreal.

  2. Ironic. Not 10 minutes before I read this post just now, I got an email from someone and in the signature file they have this quote (which is similar to your first paragraph) “Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.” After my nephew died, that was a thought that was on my mind a lot when I spoke or had interactions with strangers. Ya just never know what someone is dealing with in there life.

  3. I don’t think the people in the Sprint store right now have any idea the range of emotions I just went through as I read this but I hope they saw the smile I had at the end of my reading when I thought of Maggie. Well said Chris.

  4. Very well written! The way you are able to express yourself is a gift and I appreciate you sharing it with us.

  5. You show so much strength getting thru this hard time for you. I have laughed and cried reading what you write about Maggie. I pray that you continue with your strenght and continue writing. You help those that have lost a loved one and you help other really not take one day for granted with our own spouses, kids and friends….

  6. Chris,
    My husband was diagnosed with stage 4cc the same week that I had our second child. Brad passed away May 2nd this year. Our children are now 2 and 4. We walked the exact same path as you and Maggie. I too lost my best friend. Brad and I not only lived together but we also taught at the same high school. I have lost my “go-to” guy, computer helpline, triathlete, accountant, father to my children and just about everything to me. I know exactly how you feel. I sit at home and look at his things and wonder what to do. I went to a bereavement seminar and met a woman who was distraught over losing her husband of 65 years. All I could say to her was “lucky you”. Brad and I got 11 years. Chris, you are not alone. Feel free to e-mail me with some strategies you have for getting through the days. Thanks, Fiona.

  7. im glad you are dealing so well with a situation that most of us are unable to fathom. you are strong and wise beyond your years my friend. and still funny, whether you mean to be or not. i wish i lived closer to go riding with you. i would also love to see some of maggies artwork, are there any pictures online anywhere?

  8. You don’t know me but your words are breathtaking and amazing. I went back and read everything from January 2007 up until now. Its taken me about 1 week because I’ve been doing it as I get a chance. Just like reading a BOOK!! I have become such a fan of you and your love for her. You have impacted me in such a way that I don’t have words to describe. I’m addicted to reading your blog and following up with how you are doing. I feel like I know you and Maggie. If it wasn’t for the fact that I really don’t know you and that you live in a state so far away from mine I would love to meet you. Just for coffee and to talk to you in person. You give me a reason to get up and go to work so I can check to see if you have any new blogs. You are so amazing, I didn’t know men like you still existed out there.

  9. Just wanted to say…still reading and still thinking about you! I hope you find peace and “you”!

  10. Thankfully I know you represent many loving men. In Love, I do hope you find more reasons in this world to wake up to. I hope you find a loving man one day too.

    1. Thank you so much anonymous. I do have two more reasons to wake up to every morning. That is my two boys. But sometimes with everything I have gone through I have no desire or strength to get up. Its not that I don’t love them or care about them but sometimes I need mom time.

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