Monday, May 31, 2010

A Nice Piece of Ash

...I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

Okay, that's it for the heavy biblical references, from here on out it is going to get quite irreverent. I bet you are wondering...where the hell is Dan taking this...?

As many of you may know, or not know, no, this isn't a test, just me being in a somewhat playful
mood, I no longer wear my wedding ring. I officially took it off at the 7 month anniversary. Why you ask? What was the significance of the 7th month? Well, there is the 'seven times seventy seven meaning. Oh, yeah, I wasn't going to go biblical on you again. Sorry. There is the seven pounds of flesh, as used in the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare, the seven deadly sins, seven wonders of the world, and yes, Snow White had her entourage of seven short in stature men. What was the real reason? None other than the fact that I wanted to kind of dole out the various changes that one would expect at the one year anniversary. I wanted to take away from it being such a big momentous occasion, where I attach too much meaning to it. The other real reason is that I have never been one to wear jewelry. When we got married I was quite stressed about needing to wear a ring. They always feel so foreign on my finger. I end up playing with it all day long. So it now sits on the bookshelf, right next to Michael's ring, which is right next to Michael.

Michael's ashes sit in a beautiful hand crafted ceramic urn that a local artist made. You can find a picture of it on my Dia de los Muertos post. For those not familiar with the holiday, it is on November 1st.

Now, since I no longer wear my ring, I have been feeling like I am missing that physical connection to Michael that the ring gave to me. So for a week or so I put the ring back on, but eventually put it back on the shelf. I gave my dilemma some careful consideration, and came to the decision to buy myself a different piece of jewelry, something I can wear around my neck. I bought a beautiful sterling silver rectangle urn. I know many other widow(er)s have one of these, but it did strike me kind of strange. I am wearing my dead husband around my neck. I usually don't wear anything around my neck either, as it feels like it will choke me in my sleep. Michael had a very strange sense of humor, and he did say he would try his best to come back for me. I wonder if he had something to do with me feeling the nudge to make this purchase. Maybe he is thinking of this silver necklace as more of a noose. After all, the urn came with a complimentary 20" Rope Chain. Hmmm? What caused me to choose this? Did I choose? Or, was it chosen for me?

It's already purchased, and already around my neck. If perhaps I don't wake up in the morning one of you can tip off the police about the likely set up.

Okay, so I had this silver rectangular urn for several days now. About an hour ago I decided it was time to get Michael into this urn where he belongs. Now Michael was not exactly a small guy, and the hole that he was to go through was extremely tiny. For much of the years we were together Michael had been wanting to lose some weight, you know eat well, hit the gym more often. Well, I bet he wished he had done it now. The screw on the back of the urn was so tiny. It didn't come with anything to open it. Fortunately I happened to have an eye glass repair kit, which included the tiniest of tiny screw drivers. Okay Michael, we are back in business. I laid out all the tools for this project, which included a tiny clear plastic bag of Michael's ashes. If anybody had walk in on me they would have found me bent over a small white table, with a white granule powder, and some tiny tools that I was using to further crush the powdery substance. Now I'm not saying I ever did any illegal drugs in my day, but if I did, I would have to say that this looked a lot like a coke addict getting his fix. It's a damn good thing that my son Remy didn't walk in on this, right?

The urn comes with a tiny little teeny weeny itsy bitsy funnel, along with a complimentary everyday toothpick meant for shoving Michael's ashy ass down the funnel. Well, for those of you not familiar with human ash, no not ass, but ash, it is very grainy. The cylinder part of this funnel was about the size of a needle. So, there I was following the directions, pouring a bit of Michael into the funnel, and poking him with that toothpick. I mean I was really going to town. I kind of built up a rhythm with that toothpick, poking and poking at Michael's ash, but it was not going down! That's when I thought about the biblical saying about the rich man's chance of getting into heaven. Now Michael was far from rich, or was he? Maybe there is some Swiss account I don't know of. This is all getting a bit suspicious. When the toothpick failed me I went in for the kill. I got me a nice sewing needle. Once again, I picked up my previous rhythm, poking and poking at Michael. After a while I had more of Michael on my hands, on the table, and on my shirt. I mean, Michael was every where. I picked up my beautiful silver rectangle urn, turned it over, and found that Michael had scratched it up! Damn him!

I didn't know what to do. The kind people at Memorial Gallery, where I ordered the urn, left me a phone number that I could call with any questions. Yet, they seemed to forget that I am a man. We don't ask for help. Shit, we barely read directions. So what was I to do? Now Michael's ash was stuck in the cylinder part of the funnel. Like any clear minded, and desperate person would do, I blew him. I huffed and puffed, but Michael wasn't having this. He could be a very stubborn man. Just ask his mother. Eventually after some more poking, blowing, and banging him on the table, I got Michael out of there. I thought to myself, that's it! You already got all over me. You scratched my beautiful silver rectangle urn. You are damn well going to get into there if it's the last thing that I do! I took some of Michael's ashes into my own hands. Now, Michael was also a very sensitive kind of guy. He liked to be handled gently. No rough play for him, which was a damn pity for me. So, without taking his feelings into consideration, I pinched off a bit of Michael and began shoving his ash into the back of that urn. Get the hell in there!

I'm really a very sweet and gentle man. Well, maybe not as sweet and gentle as Michael was, but I can be gentle when I need to be. But when push comes to shove, well, I'm going to win.

Now that I am quite composed, and I am wearing this beautiful, and tasteful, piece of memorial jewelry, I am going to saunter over to the mirror to admire myself, along with Michael's ash, hanging from my neck. Tonight he may have the last laugh if by chance his ash is too heavy for my neck. and I begin to choke. I can't say that I would mind exactly, as I have always been quite fond of Michael's ass-sh.


  1. You made me laugh! Holy cow, I have not laughed in WEEKS. Even just from the title, as Matt and I always said "nice ash" whilst out in the woods on hikes. Hadn't even thought to apply that to the lovely box of ash on the bookshelf.
    Thank you dan, and michael for prompting it. (and maybe even matt, seeing as he promised, just the other night, to find a way to make me laugh.)

  2. i am glad you decided on, and found a piece of memorial jewelry that you like. i got a necklace four months after my Dragon died. it's a cobalt blue vial with a silver moon and star on it. the cord that goes around the neck is black. the little funnel was intimidating. my daughter and i worked in tandem putting the little bit of ash inside. and then we super glued the silver cap on. i wear it when i leave the apartment on my daughter's day off when she takes me out. it gives me comfort. i am glad to see your sense of humor here.


  3. Great post! I was chuckling along as I totally empathized with that damn little funnel and toothpick. I wear some of Austin around my neck in a star urn necklace locket. I wear him everywhere, even in the shower. He went scuba diving in Hawaii. It gives me a slight bit of comfort to touch that star and feel like I'm connecting with him. I must say that I don't tell people I'm wearing a little urn around my neck. When people compliment me on how pretty it is I just thank them, and smile to myself.

    I'm starting to struggle with wearing my engagement and wedding ring. I love them, but I'm starting to feel a little like a liar wearing them, while not really being married anymore. But I guess I'm not ready to take them off yet, so I won't. Maybe after San Diego. Ok, now I'm rambling. Thanks for listening and thanks for the laugh. I needed that!


  4. This post made me laugh, too, and boy did I need it today. I bought my stepdaughter a cremation necklace, and our experience trying to put her dad's ashes into it was very similar to what you described. She kept saying "Dad! Get IN here!" At first, it was funny. Then it was frustrating. Then she finally got the locked filled and couldn't get the screw back in. After an hour of struggling with it, we realized she had stripped the threads on the screw... so I had to call the place and ask them to ship me a new screw. "No, not a new necklace. Just the screw. Thanks." She loves her necklace now, though, and I've been thinking of getting something like that for myself...

  5. I've seen pendants made of blown glass that have ashes incorporated in them - not sure of the artists, but the pendants are really gorgeous. I was going to get one for our dog when this first happened - back then, I thought I would not need any of M's ashes. I was rather wrong, I think.

  6. mark hamilton at solstice glass dot com does beautiful work for said glass ash pendants. Feels a little odd to post a plug for someone's work here. Sorry if it offends.

  7. I should ask you where you got yours - I've been thinking of doing the same (though your story of how difficult it is freaks me out a bit .. . . )

    I started to almost have a bit of a panic attack the other day when I was thinking about spreading some of Elias' ashes at the beach - I started to feel like I should't have 'separated' him. I started to wonder what pieces of him I took out and worry - as if one day there would have been a way to put him back together or something - and wondered why the hell I did that.

    Anyhow, reality kicked in eventually and I'm back to being glad I did it.

    Great post though - and I'm sure you look very handsome with Michael's ass, I mean ash, around your neck. =)

  8. Okay Chelsea, now you really made me laugh. Thanks so much for that perfect response. I bought it from Memorial Gallery. I have included the web address below. They have quite an extensive collection to choose from. I'm sure if you took it to a funeral/cremation home they would do it for you. Also, some funeral homes that do cremation sell these as well. If I had to do it over again I would use some kind of sifter to get it down to the basic dust. I don't thinks our husbands would mind.

    You know, I chose to divide Michael's ashes between his mother, his best friend, and myself. I bought them each a smaller version of my urn, so that they could have a part of him with them. I have the majority of his ashes, because he wanted our ashed blended once I die. Both his best friend and I spread some of Michael's ashes in Big Sur, as it was Michael's favorite place to be. I went on a long hike where he loved to hike, and spread a little here, and a little there. I felt very good about it. We each do what feels comfortable. I kind of feel that in the end, all of us, whether ashes spread or buried, eventually become part of this earth. Or so I hope.

    Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughts. I hope I wasn't too irreverent, as Michael would have loved this post.


  9. This is the funniest thing I have read in weeks. Thank you!
    I can't wait to meet you at Camp Widow!

  10. I think Michael, wherever he is, is laughing is ash off. There is such love and affection in this post; I can imagine the playful and beautiful banter you and Michael shared.

  11. please have at the memorial jewelry