Setting Them Free

At the end, we receive ashes. They are not condensations of being, but a reminder that even fire cannot destroy what has been loved. Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi

For Chrissy

The ashes come in an emerald green bag,
not the cardinal red one you requested.
The gold tin container is heavier than you’d expected,
but far too small to hold your boy.
His Snapple facts, wicked sense of humor,
gentle wisdom and essential kindness would never fit.

No parent should ever have to see
their child’s dead body.
Contemplate the choice
between burying or burning.
Cart home the remains.
Hold what’s left in their hands.

For a time, the box lived on the shelf.
Until we began carrying Jimmy with us,
whenever we ventured out into the world.
Sprinkling bits of him
in places he cherished or would have loved,
places he wanted to go or
should have lived long enough to see.

His fragments lie at the base
of Willie Mays’ status at Oracle Park and
under the spot where Pablo Sandoval,
his favorite player, roamed the infield.

We set him free in Sorrento’s salty air,
as the light was fading.
Watched the wind carry him out to sea,
the flecks of ash and bone dancing on the water,
like stars in an upturned sky.
Magic born of death and fire,
lovely and holy and soul crushing.

We left part of him in the Serengeti,
scattering fragments from on high.
As if on cue, two hyenas emerged
from the slate gray darkness
like a scene from the movie
he loved so much as a boy.

Always insisting I stay close
so that eight minutes in,
I could fast forward past Simba’s father’s death.
Who could have imagined
that Jimmy would die before his own?

Pieces of Jimmy rest in Akaroa Harbor,
our first stop on both trips to New Zealand.
We took him with us,
once to make memories,
then again to remember.

Dan, Margo, Molly in New Zealand after scattering Jimmy's ashes. Dan is wearing khaki shorts, a black jacket and a LIVESTRONG baseball cap. Molly has dark gray workout pants and a navy windbreaker on, and she's wearing her hair in a ponytail. Margo is wearing black pants, sunglasses and a purple jacket

My friend Christine takes her son David,
a fisherman, out into the world, too.
She wants him in bodies of water,
the lakes he fished and the waterways her family come across,
knowing that’s where he would want to be.
So she can feel him all around her.
She wants him to be free.

We’ve let our boys go
into the breath of the wind,
and sprinkled bits of them
in the waves.
Watched them drift out to sea
toward the place where
the ocean meets the sky.
Turned back into stardust once more,
we watch them travel home.

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