Stay in the sun when the sunshine is gone, and you will find that the sunshine lives within you.
When my wife Mary died two years ago she was cremated. I wasn’t too sure what to do with her remains but struck upon the idea of scattering small egg cup size pots of her ashes at some of our favourite places.
Then began the process, starting with wading into the sea in the outer Hebrides at six in the morning with a small pot of her and some wildflowers I had picked on the walk to the beach. I let the sparkling ashes cascade through the brilliantly clear water and then placed the little bouquet of flowers on top which drifted off slowly out of view. I was filled with incredible calm - this contrasted with the violent way in which she had taken her own life. The process formed a slow and peaceful goodbye.
I also took her to the beach in Falmouth, a park in London, and to the top of May Hill overlooking the river Severn where we’d been engaged. I had planned to take a little bit of her back to Kefalonia in Greece where we honeymooned but that is on hold due to Covid. Mary was born in the row of houses which were demolished to make way for the new police station in Stroud but I daren’t deposit any of her there! The rest of her is buried at Saint Mary‘s Church in Hawkesbury which we attended together. My sons and I wanted some sort of anchor to be able to go back to see her and the tablet has space for my name later.
I met Mary when we were Art students together in Falmouth in 1980 and she amassed a couple of hundred paintings in her lifetime. I have photographed them all, catalogued and distributed them on-line amongst family and friends so they are able to choose a piece of her work in her memory. Far better to have the work on peoples walls then in the plan chest at home collecting dust.
On the second anniversary of her death, Mary‘s best friend from Stroud girls high school who is now a priest in charge of a local prison anointed my hands with holy oil and transferred my wedding ring to my right hand. A very special event and it was lovely to have her friend’s blessing to do so.
On the same day I set light to a large papier mache sun-head which I had made from three years worth of medical notes and rather grisly coroner’s report. I don’t know why I kept the notes for so long but maybe I was trying to find the answer to the riddle of her death. We know there is no answer, but it felt right to watch the miserable pulp of manuscripts return to the elements.