Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ghost Story

It is all true, quite true. Although I have a gift for improvisational fiction, for facile prevarication, for utterly believable out and out lying, this story is quite true. 

Once we arrived at the beach I had thought everything would go smoothly, though the sense of urgency was still strong. The box was sealed with a sticker unlike any I had ever encountered, no tearing with my meager finger nails would lift it's edges, I attacked it with my car keys. My son stood somewhat idly by, toying with the camera. At last I got the box open, challenged by a thick plastic bag I tried to open this in a less crude fashion, but ended up breaking into it again with my keys. Having already removed shoes, I  started toward the sea, bag in hand. "Do you want to......?" I asked my son. He shook his head and took a step back "I'll just do pictures, thanks." I hadn't really expected him to participate, but it seemed the right thing to at least ask. 

Cold Pacific Ocean swirling my ankles, the sun just diving below the horizon, I plunged my hand into the bag that held my mother's ashes. I hadn't expected to feel little bits of bone. I had thought the ashes would be soft, almost inviting, like the finest of campfire ashes. These had bits of bone and some of those bits were not so small, some were larger than a thumb nail and oddly triangular. Perturbed, but undaunted, I sowed handful after handful into the tide. Looking over to my right I saw a dark shape bobbing in the tide quite near the shore. "Great" I thought "a dead seal." I continued to keep an eye on it and was relieved to see it was, in fact, a live seal. Curious it being so close to shore. I began to think of the mythic Celtic Selkie . 'Perhaps the Selkie has come to claim back one of it's own, ' I thought playfully. "Do you see the seal ?" I called to my son, pointing. I couldn't hear his reply. She would have wanted there to be a seal, waiting for her, I'm quite sure of it. She loved the sea in all it's myriad of forms and moods.

When I was planning her memorial the officiant, a charming female Rabbi from New York City, assured me that memorials were for the living, that the dead were not going to reach out of the grave and grab you if it wasn't just right. I wasn't so sure. I saw my mother's hand jiggling reality. Why else would, at the last moment, this particular Rabbi be called in ? We were having a non-denominational service, but my mother loved Jewish people and always talked about her Jewish friends and she grew up in NYC, really identified with that city. She would enjoy this.  If she wasn't hanging around, how come I kept getting great parking places ? I kept my doubts to myself and made plans according to what I thought she would like. Despite the words of the Rabbi, the dead do reach out and grab you from the grave, especially if they want to be put into their grave, sort to speak.  Three days before I waded into the ocean I had woken up with a start in the middle of the night feeling like there was something wrong. Next night I woke up in the middle of the night feeling like there was something I had to do,  just had to do. Then last night I had woken up thinking there was something seriously wrong with me. I thought maybe I was having a heart attack, except I could feel no pain and my pulse seemed normal. I wasn't hot, so, no, it wasn't a hot flash. The only impression I had was that there was a circular area of heat that wasn't hot on my chest. I wondered if I was just flat out dying, and maybe this was what it felt like to die. Suddenly without the use of algebra or any sort of higher math it all added up and I realized it was time to let loose my mother's ashes. The next morning I glanced at my calendar and found that it was the Autumnal Equinox, an important and auspicious day astrologically.  I counted back and found that it had been almost exactly 9 months to the day since she had passed. Was this some sort of reverse gestation? I don't know, I'm just reporting the facts. 

Mother peacefully united with the Pacific,  we headed home, wrapped in the dark.
 "Thanks for coming with me."
 "Hmm, yup."
 "Did you see the seal." 
"Nah, I didn't, are you sure there was one." 
"Yeah, but I'm not sure it was a regular seal." 

Happy Halloween, Samhain, Dias Des Muertes, remember it is the time when the veils between the worlds are the thinnest..........


M.Kate said...

Hello Diana, what a post..looking at the title..I was expecting some bunnies tales. Anyway, glad it's done and that you mom will be happy.Have a good weekend :D

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry about your mother's passing. I hope you're ok.. you're probably feeling better after uniting your mother with the ocean? That looks like the perfect place for someone who loved the sea.

bunnygirl said...

What a lovely story. Peace to you and to your mother. I'm sure she was pleased to be reunited with the ocean that encircles our world and our lives.

Elizabeth said...

I'm sure your mother would have loved this story.
So many strands being woven together.
Yes, I do think that the dead are at peace - but live on happily in our fond memories.

PJ said...

I have to say. Diana, that to me, this is more of a soul story than a ghost story. So many of us lose our loved ones and feel completely left out of the process, grieve when we're not aware of it or for reasons we don't understand. I recently was told that we grieve to honor those that we loved and have lost. I've felt better about losing my mom ever since.
I think you're a wonderful daughter and that you loved your mother very much. What a beautiful day at the seashore.

Rabbits' Guy said...

My mother liked butterflies and collected miniatures of them.

She has been dead for quite awhile now, but a butterfly still follows me all around from time to time.

tlc illustration said...

The perfect type of ghost story...

(and good for you to be so 'mathematically' astute).

RoadBunner said...

Beautiful story. I'm sure your mother is very happy.

Andrew Stone said...

Thanks for sharing this personal moment. I cast my father's ashes into the Atlantic Ocean, not too many years ago with my mother, brother and children present. No seals there but the tide was going out and what we threw to the waters started on a new journey.

-andrew stone.

BT said...

What a wonderful story and my compliments to your son for his lovely, atmospheric photographs.

I have come to you via Rima at the Hermitage and love your bunnies and their stories. I shall return: