On Good Friday last week, we spread my mother's ashes.
She had passed away in late December, and it seemed fitting to wait until spring to fulfill her final wish, which was to have her ashes spread at a few of her favorite places. We debated about whether it was better to separate her ashes or put them all in one place; but in the end, we did what she would have wanted, not what we might have thought was right.
My sister Heidi had the idea to plant trees and spread the ashes around them like fertilizer. And so, we did: We put the ashes in the hole with each tree, and then covered the roots with fresh soil--an oak, a scarlet maple, and a hickory-nut tree (one day, readers, I will share her famous hickory-nut cake recipe with you all!). Heidi also brought crystals to hang from the branches. My mother was famous for sending a crystal to anyone who had recently experienced the death of a loved one--with the message that any time they saw a rainbow, they should think of the person they lost. She loved rainbows. She loved crystals. She loved feeling helpful, and loved feeling needed by others.
It wasn't a sad day. We were all relieved to see her suffering end. But we did all feel the finality of the moment. I think my mother would feel happy (and probably slightly jealous, although she would hate to admit it) that the family still enjoys being together, and will continue on without her.
One of the things I learned from growing up with her is that we are each on our own journey, with our own personal mission and purpose. She has moved on to the next part of her journey--whatever or wherever that may be. And we are now free to move on with our own journeys.
Who knows where they will lead. But I'm sure there will be rainbows along the way.
For more from Maria Rodale, go to www.mariasfarmcountrykitchen.com.