Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ashes




It is difficult to accept
that my son's precious body
Is now
A box of ashes.
I bore nurtured fed that body.
Nine months inside of me.
Flesh of my flesh,
A soft round baby
Later a long-limbed boy.

I clothed it
Soothed it when it was sick,
Washed it's dirty face and hands,
Took it to the doctor and the dentist,
Pampered it with hot cocoa or sometimes breakfast in bed.

Full size at six foot two,
Shiny auburn hair
Warm chocolate brown eyes
An engaging snaggle-toothed smile
Handsome and straight in a three piece suit
Relaxed in board shorts and flip-flops.
It reflected his aspects well.

Long legs and agile fingers defined it
the long loping stride
the long articulate fingers sliding contentedly
over the neck of a guitar or ukulele
full voice when it sang,
distant eyes when it was thinking deeply,
a sly grin when it teased.

I loved being hugged by that tall boy.
Sliding me gently under his arm and shoulder.
Wrapping his long arms around each of us
Like a blanket.
I loved the person inside that body.
And I loved the body too.
It was him.

Now it's gone.
Barely salvaged
in one-dimensional photographs
and our fading memories.

The ashes stunned me when we picked them up
wrapped in a box
shrouded in
a blue velvet bag with a gold tassle.
As if anything could represent it's beauty.
Nine pounds.
Just a few ounces over his birth weight.
Oh sorrow of sorrows.

My wrecked heart
wondered
how all of that vibrant life
came down
to this
little
precious
box.
Silent.

Death
The most dismal of all endings.
A harshness we cannot bear
Or escape.

Resurrection.
New bodies.
New life.
These
A mother's
Only hope.


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead... I Peter 1:3






Note:
Bits of Joey's ashes have been scattered into the waters off Maui,
From a parachute over the skies of Virginia Beach,
From another parachute over the Rose Bowl,
Off a cliff into the Grand Canyon,
Planted under a tree in JoAnne's backyard,
Sprinkled into a stream in Denali, Alaska,
Scattered in the waters off Venice, Italy,
Slipped into the Trevi Fountain in Rome,
And sprinkled on the railway tracks in London.

We want a bit of him in every place he loved.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Aloha Karen,

Your poem reaches to the dark, deep and profound inside of us. I wouldn't dare explore those feelings without you, but we trust you.

Terry Davis

Robin said...

Oh, Karen.

I bought a new locket that clasps very tightly closed so that I can keep some of Josh's ashes right next to me during my ordination.

I, too, wonder every day: How can this be?

Love you.

PS: Your name along with others is in the bulletin. I'll post that page in my blog soon.

Anonymous said...

You are a gifted, honest, and lovely writer, thank you so much for sharing this heartbreaking poem. You capture him so well...

Love you.
Rach

Jeri said...

So beautiful and heartbreaking.
Love & miss you,
Jeri

Anonymous said...

Dearest Karen,

As a mother, my heart breaks for you. As a friend, I want to give you a big hug and cry with you. Thank you for sharing such intimate feelings in such a beautiful way. I love you!

Kealani

karen gerstenberger said...

Such a heart-rendingly beautiful poem, Karen. Nine pounds. The weight of the universe, the weight of subtance, sorrow, surrender and silence.
I love what you are doing with those ashes. It sounds like something Joey would like, too.
I'm glad you're safely home, and I send my love to you.

Anonymous said...

Pain needs tears to quench pain but tears are never enough

Sorrow needs comfort to satisfy sorrow but comfort falls short

Grief needs time to remove grief but time will never remove grief

Time needs Eternity because time will run out

Eternity needs faith, for Eternity is nothing without faith

Faith needs Heaven and Heaven needs Jesus who created it all

John 11:25
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

Love,
Gary