When AunT relocated to Colorado, we all thought that her transition would be easier if she stayed with us for a few weeks; enough time to learn about the town, decide what area she wanted to live in and find a job. A few weeks turned into a couple of months and before we knew it nine months had passed.
During that time, her room was down the hall from ours. Even though we had our own bathrooms and private spaces, it could be a tight fit and we could be short tempered with each other due to our different life choices, ages, outlooks on life and similarly strong personalities.
Once she moved out onto her own and BW and JB arrived, whenever AunT would stay with us she would take residence in the basement ‘guest room’.
Originally intended for any guests that might stop in for a visit, in reality it was her room. If she needed a place to stay during school holidays, if a break from her roommates was needed or she’d spent the night baby-sitting that was the room she would stay in. It was decorated with her in mind, and although we’d installed shelves and drawers for office supplies in the closet of that room, we all referred to it as AunT’s room and she followed suit, calling it ‘My room’.
It seemed to fit her lifestyle. She could watch her shows as loud as she wanted, stay in bed all day and each of us could converse without the details of our lives overlapping, as commonly happens in single family homes.
When she moved to Boston, and I began attending the university, we recognized that the room AunT once called her own was needed as an office. I needed it as a refuge in which to study, and changes in Charles’s job required that he needed a work space at home in addition to the one he had at the office and with a mixture of sadness and excitement for the future, changes were made so that it no longer served as a guestroom.
After she passed away, all of her belongings were placed into her room to be catalogued, sorted and sent on to others. The hours that Charles and I spent sorting and cataloging her life, all the letters, emails, phone calls and associated tasks surrounding her life and death were taken care of in that room. It is also where her ashes were safely kept until we knew the time was right to find her final home, her resting place.
We knew it was time when JB asked where AunT was buried. Recently she and BW have developed an interest in what happens to people when they die, both in what happens to their bodies that are left behind, and their souls that make them human. When we were unable to provide her with an answer that left her satisfied (we thought it might be too much for them to know that her remains were in the house) it was obvious that the time for AunT to have her final home had arrived.
Over dinner a few years before T died, she, Charles and I had a conversation while lounging on the deck about what we would each like our final resting place to be like, and she expressed the thought that she would like to have her ashes spread upon a landmark mountain in our area so that she would forever be able to look down upon the town we live in and see the ones that she loved grow, especially BW and JB, and that those who knew her best would be able to look up at the mountain and know that she was at rest.
I so wanted to honor her wishes, so wanted to do as she requested but it just did not feel right. People need to be able to mourn in their own ways, need to have a place to visit, to say goodbye, to develop the rituals that help them cope with the loss of someone important in their lives regardless of how long they graced this Earth. I needed that, my children needed that. I know that AunT’s mother, father and brothers need that. I know that many of her friends need that, and that is why I was unable, unwilling really to spread her ashes as she requested.
It is the ONE thing that she requested of us that we did not honor. Every other wish, request and command has been met whether others believe it or not.
On the day we inquired about a final niche for AunT’s remains, we not only found a perfect one, but it was available, the stone was at the engravers and could be completed immediately, and everyone needed to create the flurry of paperwork and perform the internment was available. It was all so simple, so seamless that Charles and I were finally able to release that final burst of emotion and stress that had been building for so long and was so desperate for release. Now that she is at rest, it is time for others to visit and to have their time with her.
For us, the office where Charles and I each have work spaces is still occasionally thought of as ‘her room’, but that is changing. If I focus long enough I can see the shadow of her bed, the area she’d leave her luggage, the pile of clothes that would be laundered ‘sometime’ and smell her perfume in the air. Now though that she has her last home, those shadows will continue to fade and become a memory that is shared as it is needed.
If you would like to visit AunT, please leave a comment with an email address and I will pass along the information. Also indicate if you would like me to withhold your comment or email address from being published, as I review each note before making it public.