We loved with a love that is more than love ~ Edgar Allan Poe
As I pulled up to the boat dock on Tuesday, I was amazed at what a beautiful, clear and sunny day it was in South Florida. At this time of year, especially in the height of hurricane season, one never knows what the weather might bring us. The boat caption’s words last week after I booked the reservation–“we will sail at 9:30 am, weather permitting–reminded me that even when we put our best plans in place, there are things beyond our control.
Sure, we all know that we cannot control the weather, we can only work with it. Yet for me, the plans to sail on Tuesday, September 9th was significant because Tuesday, September 9th was the six month anniversary of Richard’s life transition and it was time for us to let go, so that we could be together again as one. I’ve never experienced a burial at sea, so I had no personal experience to go by, but I did know that what was important for both Richard and I, was to be set free from the perils of death and be free, free so that we can be together again as one.
On this beautiful sunny Tuesday morning, it was a small gathering of friends as we motored out into the Atlantic ocean. Making the decision to bury Richard’s ashes at sea was something that we had both talked about, and something that I knew he approved of since he buried his first partner, Herman at sea in 1999. The biodegradable boxes were a work of art; one blue with the (last) remains of Herman and one white with the remains of Richard. Yet even in those conversations about burial at sea, you really don’t know if you can ‘do it’ until you get right to the point or rather, the day of ‘doing it.’
In a sense, I knew that placing Richard’s ashes at sea WAS my last act of Caregiving for him. Sure, I had the option of the funeral home ‘doing it’ for me, but I knew deep inside my heart that this was my sole responsibility and something I wanted, and needed to do. Then the conversation started on the boat. “I understand that we have to be more than three miles from shore before the boxes can be placed in the ocean,” I said. Then in unison, two of my friends said…”You’re going to just place his box in the ocean, he wants to be set free, just like you, let the ashes out of the box and set both of you free!” “Hummm,” I thought…”Another Caregiving decision to make, and how I thought those decision were behind me!”
As the boat slowed down and then anchored, I knew that we had approached our destination and it was my turn to act. I had no special words to say, yet I shared pictures of Herman and Richard and talked about their 43 years together as I placed Herman’s beautiful blue box in the ocean. As I reached for Richard’s beautiful white box, I was still unsure of what I was going to do, then the box slightly opened, I could hear him speaking to me, “let me be free!” After a few words, I took Richard’s box, and spread his ashes in the ocean and then watched as a beautiful array of colors gleamed at the top of the ocean as his ashes floated away on his eternal cruise. As difficult as this was, as I watched his ashes float away, there was a sense of peace that came upon me that is difficult to explain.
As the box emptied of Richard’s ashes and then dropped into the ocean, the caption circled Richard’s starting point of his life-long cruise, where everyone placed roses in the water, and I thought about how happy he was because he was free. It was at this point when I realized that I was free, too.
My last act of Caregiving for the one I continue to love, was to set him free, so that we both could be free.
You see, I did not mind being Richard’s caregiver, in fact I believe it is an honor to be a Caregiver, but for now and forever, I can go back to just being his partner, which is what I miss the most. My faith tells me that I will see him again; my mind tells me that he is now forever free; my heart tells me that he is right next to me.
For now, he is just a port ahead of me on his life-long cruise, catching up with family and friends, while speaking to me in different ways, because I know that one day, I will arrive at his port and catch up with him on that life long cruise. I’m sure he’ll have reserved a good cabin!