Sloan was cremated 4 years ago today. I remember that it was an extremely painful day for me, it felt like reliving the trauma all over again. A secondary loss.
I remember sitting in the funeral home two weeks prior, tucked away in a small, quiet room, with my parents beside us as a kind woman was gently telling us where to sign, offering her condolences. She’d told us she would be overseeing Sloan’s handling while he was there. She already knew our story, as most did at that point, but she asked us many questions about his life so that she could know HIM. She had tears streaming down her face as she told us she would love our sweet boy as her own while he was in her care.
As we signed the cremation papers, my eyes traveled over the words “manner of disposition”. Aka: Manner of disposal. The phrasing felt so vulgar and impersonal. I immediately had to fight back the urge to vomit. I couldn’t look at the words, and I couldn’t look at her tears. As I searched the room for anything that could ground me in that moment, I noticed something flitting about outside the window repeatedly. A dragonfly. I knew then that while this impossible choice would never be “right”, it was what was best for us and our connection to our boy.
When the day of his cremation came, thinking about my baby’s earthly body being reduced to ash forever, and how that would take place, was devastating. I wanted to protect him from the flames, I wanted to hold him and tell him I was sorry, that it would be over soon, and touch the cold top of his head one last time as he was rolled into the chamber. But instead I sat quietly at home wondering every minute if that was the moment the heat would touch him.
We’d awoken to light rain for the first time in weeks that day. I welcomed the cloudy sky, the smell of the steaming pavement was a comfort. The day he’d died had been sunny, not a cloud in the sky. I remember how confusing that had felt, how the juxtaposition was not lost on me as I wept over my child’s lifeless body while birds chirped in the warmth of the sun outside the window. But on his cremation day, the rain felt perfectly solemn, as if the earth had felt the shift, and was honoring the heaviness. I leaned into that feeling, it helped me process the event as a metamorphosis. I was able to release, just as the flames would release his spirit from a vessel that could no longer contain him.