Entrusted to My Care

I believe Christopher would have said something like, Why are you surprised? It’s nothing new. It’ll be all right.After various runs-around, today was the day I was to be given my Christopher’s ashes. The person I have been working with at the mortuary described it as when they ‘entrust him to my care.’Based on the process, I would say they weren’t ‘given’ to me.I had to call, ask, cajole, near-demand, show up, provide identification, and sign.I sat in the room, waiting.The young woman on duty (? — the front desk people seem like they are guarding the premises) brought in a black box and placed it on the table.It seemed far too small, considering Christopher’s stature. But I get it. He’d Left, after all. What she was giving me was the left-overs, what he’d left behind that had been sanitized and processed.I looked at the box and wondered if it was simply compact, that I would struggle to lift it in my arms — after all, Christopher’s last weigh-in at the doctor’s office with clothes on was more than I weighed.I signed, printed, agreed, and stood. With a breath, I lifted the box to my chest. It was surprisingly sturdy but light.I walked to the car and carefully placed him on the passenger seat and off we went to ride through the city. After all, he would tomorrow be winging his way back East to ultimately join his parents in repose on Saturday. This was our last ride.The afternoon was warm, 90 degrees, said the dash thermometer. I had the news channel on the radio and we listened to the pundit complain about the current US Presidential candidates. The sunroof was open and so was my window; Christopher rarely rode with his window down so today was no different.I needed to make a couple of stops, as I did not plan to drive anywhere else today. At the first, I needed to know: the middle snap of the box was not quite closed. Carefully, I lifted the lid.I knew what to expect, sort of: I did some research on the process of cremation for one of my stories.The Bible says we return to the earth, ashes to ashes and dust to dust.It’s true.I touched the bag and looked, taking it all in. I closed the lid and when I got home, I took him around the perimeter of the house, down the sidewalk, out in the yard with the pups, through the rooms of our home.I hugged the box close to me. I had been entrusted.He is packed in our daughter’s bag for her flight, wrapped gently in a towel. She is now entrusted and will subsequently entrust others on Saturday.At that point, our job, our physical duty, is done.The spiritual and emotional duties that Christopher himself entrusted to us will go on until we return to dust.Hate to take that ride without him, but I know he’s there, cheering us on.

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