Three years ago this week, Sloan’s ashes came home to us. We had asked my parents to go to the funeral home and retrieve them for us, as neither of us were able to take the task on emotionally.
I remember that I spent the hours beforehand cleaning the entire house from top to bottom. I was nesting the way a pregnant mother does, preparing for the arrival of her baby. The only difference is my 7 month old baby was coming home in a tiny white box that day.
When my parents walked into our house, arms filled with packages containing his castings, hair clippings, prints, and ashes, we sat down and watched silently as my mom opened each one, showing us all of the carefully prepared keepsakes from the funeral home.
The mood was somber. There was such a feeling of finality, of absoluteness. It was all that was left of the child who had been in my arms only a month before. The familiar wrinkles of his feet and dimples of hands were now only tangible in the form of cold pieces of plaster wrapped neatly in velvet bags.
As I held the tiny white box containing his ashes, I felt shock at how my baby’s 22lb body could be reduced to something so small and weightless. We had spent weeks trying not to think about what cremation had meant, and suddenly it was in front of our faces. But somehow, a strange weight had lifted from my chest.
Though his earthly form, the body we’d held, loved and watched grow for 7 months, was gone… I felt a sense of relief that once again, some form of his existence was back in our home.