Subject: Jen wellness update #58 (15Feb01) Ashes to Ashes
In the summer of 1999 Jen & I were excited by the video camera we'd just bought. (Obviously I use the term 'we' loosely; it was yet another gizmo for Karl, that Jen happened to quite like).
One Saturday afternoon in June we took a trip to Lands End, the outlook over the Golden Gate Bridge from the Presidio in SF. It was a glorious cloudless day, with breeze, which is noteworthy in summer in San Francisco.
Recklessly ignoring all the signs warning of dangerous, unstable cliffs the pair of us climbed down to the small beach with no name at the foot of the outlook. There we frolicked (clothed, actually) and played with the vidcam.
I'd forgotten about that day, but came across the tape recently; it was a tonic, it helped me to remember a Jen who wasn't recovering from major surgery. She is running through the surf, doing graceful cartwheels, provocatively jiggling those ample breasts, and laughing when she finds a condom in the sand. She gets excited when we see 'Sammy the Seal' in the surf.
Today, not long after daybreak, Naomi and I returned to that beach to spread half of Jen's ashes.
As on that day in summer, no one else had slithered down the dangerous cliffs, so we were completely alone. It was the perfect spot.
I've never inspected ashes before - they're not what you might expect. I was expecting a homogenous gray powder, but they are quite gritty, with some gruesomely recognizable pieces. Naomi and I were slightly taken aback, and wondered what some of the bigger pieces were. There were two metal buckles with the letters BIRK stamped on them. We kept one each in memory of Jen's Birkenstocks.
I spoke some words to mark the occasion:
Then Naomi and I ventured into the icy Pacific, and cast handfuls of dust into the ocean. Then we floated tulip petals out from the shore. Enough.
Naomi then read a poem: 'What Remains' from a collection by Marge Pearcy called 'My Mother's Body'.
We sat and watched the surf awhile. Naomi commented that it was beautiful to be there, was that ok? I said it was ok. We were both allowed to enjoy the occasion as well as mourn.
By now the sun had brightly lit the tops of the cliffs behind us, and we'd gotten chilled. So we climbed back up the cliffs into the bright sunlight ... and I had a happier day today.
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