“…all come from dust, and to dust all return.” (Ecclesiastes 3:20)
“Here you are. If you could just print your name here, sign here, and write the date here. Thank you.”
She hands me the white bag, and just like that it’s done. I walk out the door with my husbands ashes in my hand.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I made the appointment to collect them, but it was all over so quick. I didn’t know how I would react to going back to the crematorium 5 months later. I didn’t know what I would feel when I saw the box. I didn’t realise it would be so heavy. I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream and sob, but all I could do was shed a few silent tears as I sat and stared at it – at him? Was that Matt in there? I don’t know. I don’t understand. Every time I look at the nicely wrapped box all I can think is ‘that’s what is left of my beautiful husband in there.’ It seems so wrong. It’s not meant to be like this. I don’t want it to be like this. Please don’t let this be real.
I don’t know what to do now. I had thought that it would be fun to put his ashes into a firework and shoot them into the sky (firework companies actually do this!). I thought that Matt would like that. But that idea has become less appealing as time goes on. Then I thought it would be good to put them into a niche across the road at the church with a little plaque. That would mean that I would have a ‘place’ to go (like the cemetery, but not). I asked around at church and that is definitely something I could do whenever I am ready. Now that I’ve got his ashes though, I’m not so sure.
I thought it was weird when I heard about people carrying their partners ashes around with them everywhere. It seemed a bit creepy even. But now I think I can understand why people might do that. I feel a strange attachment to that box. That box represents a life that we had planned together. It represents a love between one man and one woman, which was meant to last for many, many years. I know it’s not really Matt, but in some way it feels like it is. And I don’t want to let that go just yet. It’s too soon. I shouldn’t have had to say goodbye so soon in the first place.
It wasn’t meant to be like this.
It is so hard to align that thought with the truth that God actually intended it to be like this. I keep dwelling on the fact that even before Matthew was born, God knew that he would only live to 21. And before I was born, God knew that I would love and marry him, only to have it snatched away soon after.
I wish I knew. I wish I could see God’s plan and purpose in this mess. But I can’t.