Shannon and I had always been clear on our final wishes when it came to “disposition”. We didn’t want burial. We didn’t want our body placed in an expensive casket, we didn’t want a headstone for weeping at. We were both adamant about being cremated. Shannon further wanted her body donated to science. Her original intention was to have her cancer studied, but I was told by Hopkins they have no specific body donation program for cancer, they will simply continue to use her tumor tissue from her original surgery to study and research for colon cancer. So, we found a local company that accepted her body for scientific study and would provide “partial ashes” to us after a few weeks. Seemed like a slam dunk thing.
After 4-6 weeks, I began to get nervous that maybe they’d lost her body, or that we’d have no ashes to return. I called them at 6 weeks, and was told they got “backed up” due to holidays and weather. So I gave them two more weeks…at 8 weeks, I called again, and was told they’d be ready this week. I began to think on Friday that they were going to delay again. But I got the call yesterday…the ashes were ready.
I read a story from a fellow widow who was actually given the option of turning the knob herself, then being able to see the remains once the fire was completed. I could never do that, it was strange enough to be handed a small box and know…that was Shannon. Here was the woman I loved, my best friend, the mother of my children…in a small plastic bag, inside of a small plastic box. Even though I feel like our bodies are just tissue and bone, and doesn’t retain the spirit…As soon as I was in the car, I felt compelled to turn the radio down, change it to a country station…and instinctively as I drove back to work, I had my hand on the box. I can’t say why, but I just felt like this was me, taking her home finally. The only problem with this was…I still had a few hours of work. Felt like it might be too weird to take her up to my desk, so I just left the box out in the car, then drove her home.
Noah picked up pretty quickly what it was (Probably helped along when I got upset at Darcy throwing a fit and yelling out that I didn’t need more stress because I had to pickup Mommy’s ashes today. There’s a Father-Of-The-Year award vote for me…). After Darcy fell asleep, I moved the box up to my closet, and Noah followed me up. I asked him if he wanted to see the cremains, and immediately I could see tears in his eyes, and fear. So I sat him down, explained to him what happened with Shannon’s body and what options people had when they died, and asked if he still wanted to see them. He said if I looked at them, he’d just bury his head and hide his eyes, so I told him we didn’t need to look at them, but if he wants to ever, all he needs to do is ask me (Maybe that will cancel out that Father-Of-The-Year moment with Darcy from earlier)
So now, with her home, I’m left with a final decision…what to do with the ashes. That part, Shannon didn’t really make clear. Much like her ceremony, she just wanted me to figure it out. We’re going to get necklaces made for the kids with a tiny bit of the cremains in them. And I decided to get one too, because I found a nice piece that just felt like her
The rest we are going to spread…likely a bit in Maryland, and then some in either Charleston or Carolina Beach. I knew Shannon really liked the Charleston area where Erin moved to. Carolina Beach is where she and Erin had a girls weekend before she started the Vectibix, a chance to get away while she was on her last big break from chemo. It was a really special weekend to her, and that seems to just be the right place to put some. Only one small issue with these plans…apparently the EPA requires you to go three nautical miles away from land before you spread the remains. So…that’s not going to work. I could hire a boat to take me out that far, but the places that seem to offer that service do it at an especially jacked up price! So…still to be determined. But at long last, Shannon is at home with us. In one form anyway.