We scattered your ashes out in your favorite place; the ridge overlooking the lake that goes on forever. The place where you would ride your dirt bike for days on end and pose for photographs high atop the cliffs. It seems fitting that your final resting place would be so far from civilization; far from the madness of the concrete confines of the city cage where you lived and worked and dreamed about a future life in the wilderness.
The trees, rocks and water that brought you back time and time again with the promise that you would one day retire in this place you called “Paradise,” surrounded us as we said our final goodbyes. It was your plan to live out your years among the wolves, bears, foxes, eagles and other creatures and critters that populate this place. This was God’s Country for you, and you longed to come home – spirit and flesh joined together for eternity.
Unlike you, dear one, we didn’t ride the winding trails and navigate treacherous terrain to deliver you to your resting place. We came by car, as far as the road would bring us. We hiked the rest of the way, your mother and I. It was your day of birth – Nov. 29th – and despite the forecasted rain and cold, the skies opened up early in the morning and the sun blessed us with its warmth. It was as if you and your sister had pulled a few strings with the creator.
As we slowly made our way to the place in the photo – the one where you are sitting on your dirt bike, perched perilously close to the edge of the cliff – we talked about you as if you were there with us. And you were there with us, whispering on the wind as we negotiated the final steps to where the photo had been taken so long ago.
It was a production getting your ashes out of the box (“don’t waste any money on a fancy urn,” you always said). I forgot to bring a knife, so I used my house key to cut open the plastic bag that held your powdered remains. I took a deep breath and secured myself safely inside the pine tree that lives at the edge of the cliff.
As we took turns scattering your ashes, a strong gust of wind came and carried you out into the canyon, down among the trees and into the lake below. It was beautiful. Some of your ashes clung to the base of the tree, and your mother said, “the tree will grow bigger, now.”
After we finished scattering your ashes, we found a giant rock and sat for awhile. The pain and stress of the last two months came crushing down on my heart like a load of gravel. I was overwhelmed with emotion. Thoughts of you (and of my mother, who died shortly after you passed away) knocked the wind from my chest. For a second I thought my heart might crack wide open. “We love you, Bill,” I said. “We love you.”
As we made our way back to the car, the stress and anxiety of what has been a hard year melted away. You were at peace. It felt like a heavy weight had been lifted from my heart. Your mother would later say the same thing. She felt your presence out on the cliff, and she was happy you were finally home.