Her Last Journey

Beltane and the Living in the Mountains Moon

Grateful: for 33 plus years with Kate

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Her life and her death



Sometime after celebrating Kate’s yahrzeit at CBE, May 6th, a small voice began to say, It’s time. Time for what? It’s time. Time for what? It’s time. Oh. I see.

Whatever lies in the deep of me, the soul. My self. Inner wisdom had decided it was time to spread the rest (most) of Kate’s ashes. Yes, I put some around the Irises in her memorial Iris bed. Yes, I gave some to Jon, Ruth, and Gabe which they spread in Maxwell Creek at Upper Maxwell Falls, but I had retained most of them. They sat behind me along with Rigel’s ashes. For several months.

Niggling in the back of my mind was something Seoah had said, “Koreans believe until the ashes are spread the person isn’t free.” My take was that the person who held the ashes was the one who wasn’t yet free.

That was me in this case. Yes, but not free of what? Certainly not her memories. I will not ever let them go. Certainly not her momentous presence in my life. I cannot let that go. Free, I think, of a physical tie to yesterday. Free, I think, of any delusion that she’s gone away somewhere but might come back. Free, I think, of the life we had together. Free so that my life can move forward on its own.


So almost exactly a year and two months after her death (the 12th is tomorrow), on a clear blue Colorado day, the temperature in the mid-sixties, I strapped the urn with the flame narrative, the one shaped by Richard Bresnahan and fired in the Johanna Kiln into the passenger seat, and Kate rode with me one last time. To my trail.

Carrying the urn, heavy for this sarcopeniaed old guy, up the small hills and across the rocky stream, I walked. Burdened. Which was the point, after all. Her ashes and the urn were a counter weight when I walked on slanting parts of the trail.

I had decided that if I fell and broke the urn that would be where she needed to go. But, I didn’t. I crossed back and forth as the trail moved from the north side of the Stream to the south. Catching Rocks with my hiking boots, not dead yet, able to leverage myself from one bank to the other.

When Kate and I arrived at the small pond at the base of the waterfall, I set the urn on the ground. A moment. Letting it sink in. What I was about to do. Say good-bye. Let her go. Send her to the World Ocean via this tiny, unnamed Mountain Stream.

The urn, upended, began spilling out the off-white, grayish remains. As they hit the Water, the dustier material fanned out in the Stream, while bone fragments sank to the bottom. The whole Stream, that part visible to me from the Waterfall, clouded.

Then, in a bit the onrush of new water had cleared the Stream back to its usual state. Like life. We live, clouding the Water, then we die, and the great Stream of Life itself moves on, clears the Waters, and it’s as if we were never there.

a moment later

I said two namastes to Kate’s disappearing presence, then slowly raised my arms, palms up. Crying.

Not long after I felt a release, a brightening.

This was something I needed to do and something I needed to do alone. Most of the remembrances for Kate have been communal, at CBE or with family. This was for the two of us. Us.

After a bit, I collected myself, picked up the much lighter urn, and walked back to the car.


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