Carrying my brother’s ashes

Written By: Miranda - Sep• 05•11
The Waits River

The Waits River, up on Route 25

The package was wrapped in some Mexican Day of the Dead cloth and tied with a bright woven sash. It was about ten inches square. It was very heavy.

The package contained my brother, or what was left of him. My sister-in-law had already scattered half his ashes in a favorite spot out by Tampa Bay. She had come to let the rest go in the Waits River. My brother was pretty specific about where he wanted them to go – up above where the old Café 25 used to be. There were some deep holes up there, he said and he wanted the ashes to drift down into them. I was teasing him one time on the phone about this, I said: Can’t we just put’em off the iron bridge, Chris? but he was adamant, they were to go past the trout up there in those holes, my brother was a fisherman.

We had plenty of time to get used to the idea that he was going to die, we had plenty of time to prepare ourselves for this moment.

We drove up there, a few of us and I carried the package on my lap. It was very heavy. It was much heavier than I had expected it to be when she had given me the package to carry. On the flight up they had been called out of the line for extra attention because the luggage scan had revealed the package as some extraordinarily dense material. It felt as heavy as I imagine gold must feel, carrying it.

As we drove the package was in my lap and I found myself giving it little pats.

We went to a pull-out up above where the old Café was, a place where they had taken out a curve and left the remnant of old road and went down to the bank and I was still carrying the package. I gave it to her to unwrap.

She untied the knot in the sash and unwrapped it from the cloth. It was a big ziplock bag and there was a printed label on it that I desperately wanted to read for some reason, but I didn’t.  I stepped out into the water. She held out the open bag to me. I put my hands in the bag.

The ashes that had been the body of my brother weren’t like wood ashes.  I’ve read that, but I didn’t really know it until that moment, when I put my hands in and felt the grainy substance – what was left of my brother’s body. I bent into the river and opened my hands and let the current take the ashes.

standing in the river

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