Ashes to Ashes, Part 1

Labor Day Weekend I went to Dallas to stay with Thom and Patrick, and to hook up with Ron and Becky, Jeremy's parents, who were coming down from their home in Moore, Oklahoma.

We had a couple of tasks to perform, first and foremost taking the cardboard box full of Jeremy's ashes (he was cremated) that had been sitting on the bookshelf in my family room for two months and splitting them up, one half to go the cemetery in Huntsville, Utah, where so many of Jeremy's family are laid to rest, and the other half to Short Mountain Sanctuary, our faerie home in Liberty, Tennessee. The other reason for the visit was to return some family items of Jeremy's (there will be others) that were too bulky or fragile to mail.

I was dreading the visit with Ron and Becky, not because I didn't want to see them, but because it was our first visit since parting after the last memorial service for Jeremy in Atlanta. Likewise, I was having a really hard time with the idea of the physical act of splitting up the ashes, something I just didn't want to have to do myself.

I wound up crying most of the way from Houston to Dallas, a distance of 250 miles. It didn't help that in the past seven years I've made almost NO solo long-distance drives and very few cross country trips without Jeremy. I was missing him terribly.

I made it to Thom and Patrick's in the late afternoon and Becky and Ron came over shortly thereafter. I showed them all the things I had brought -- the two paintings by Grandma Helen, Becky's mother who passed away when Jeremy was in elementary school, the portrait of a lady that Jocelin had given him a couple of years before, and the framed photo collection of Jeremy pictures -- showing his life from babyhood to high school graduation -- that Becky had given him when he went off to college. More than a few tears there, as you might imagine.

We went to Deep Ellum and had dinner at Monica Aca y Alla, the restaurant Thom and Patrick had taken me and Jeremy and the kids to the previous year, on our return trip from Oklahoma -- and one that Jeremy adored. Then we went back to Thom and Patrick's. Becky had brought two beautiful wooden boxes that she had found at Hobby Lobby or Michael's or someplace. Thom was gracious enough to do the honors, taking the boxes and the container of Jeremy's ashes out to the patio, bringing back just the wooden boxes. I heaved a big sigh of relief.

Becky and I talked and talked. She'd just changed medications over the previous two weeks and going off one and onto another had been very rough. We process our grief differently and at different times and then she was deep in the throes of it. She told me one thing, however, that made me really happy and really sad at the same time:

Mark, Jeremy's uncle in Utah, spoke to her one night on the telephone a couple of weeks previously. "It's really no different, is it?" he said. "Jeremy and Richard, they were just like any other married couple." Mark went on to explain that before the memorial service in Ogden -- especially when Emily got up to speak, he never really thought of gay couples as people who might be in love, might consider themselves just as connected and committed and intertwined as he and his wife, or Ron and Becky. "No, Mark," Becky said, "there's no difference." And I love him for now knowing it.

I pointed out that when Jeremy and I told friends that we were moving to Houston, any number of people said to me, "How nice that your relationship has progressed so that you're willing to consider doing so." I was always dumbfounded. I told Becky, "It would have been like someone saying to you, 'Oh, you're moving to Spain with Ron? It's nice that you have such a good relationship.' Can you imagine?"

She couldn't, which is part of the reason I love her as much as I do. As far as I can tell, she's never for a minute doubted how much Jeremy meant to me, or how much I meant to him. In that regard, we've always been on the same wavelength.

Ron and Becky went home the next day. I stayed 'til Monday morning. The rest of the trip was pleasant, and uneventful. That weekend I connected with two different friends I'd known online for years and years, but never met in person, and Thom and Patrick and I went to see a really trashy Sci Fi movie Sunday afternoon.

A few weeks later it was time for me to take the kids and Eden to Short Mountain, but that's the subject of Part 2.


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