Owen’s ashes are still at Michael’s. This was supposed to be temporary – a holding place until we could make arrangements for a scattering, or a burial or a place at the mausoleum. It felt like a big decision we weren’t ready to make yet, and decided to postpone it for a while. So leafing through the sober catalogue, between selecting a child-sized coffin and discussing memorial service logistics, we chose the most appropriate urn we could. Rejecting the ‘baby urns’ shaped like alphabet blocks or baby shoes (ugh), we went for an adult urn (Why are there no urns for 12 year olds?), with inlaid enamel butterflies in a vibrant blue. (Did you know? Butterflies are deaf.)
At first Michael said he wasn’t quite ready to give it up yet. That he has enjoyed the comfort of ‘having Owen with him’. I would ask occasionally, and the answer was always, Not yet.
I asked again a month or so ago, thinking “It’s spring. It’s time.”
But as all things must and will do, his feelings have changed. His latest response to my request to talk about it was not Not Yet, but rather, No. It wasn’t, I’m not ready yet, maybe in the fall. It was just simply, No.
I’m not going to fight over my son’s ashes. Clearly they are providing some healing for Michael and I have nothing to prove that my idea is better than his. But if Michael were to willingly part with them, I would return them to the earth. Honour his remains with a marker of some kind, near a big tree or a bench, where I or Angus or friends or anyone who wished to could sit and enjoy the fresh air and ponder whatever comes to mind, which may include appreciating all that Owen was and all that Owen brought to his or her or my life.
Of course there’s nothing to stop us from doing that anyway, even with Owen’s remains 12 stories high, perched on a piece of furniture.