Cremation remains… that’s what the coffee talk was at the most Instagrammable coffee shop in Encinitas among all the beautiful people in their Lululemons when I met up with a friend recently.
I’m not really sure how we stumbled on to that topic, but Mel told me what she had done with her brother’s, and I told her I still hadn’t even opened the box that Mr. Jones’ remains were in. Not the overpriced wooden container… the actual cardboard package surrounding the overpriced wooded container.
Side note: Death is big business that preys on the emotionally vulnerable. A discussion for another time.
In fact, all I’ve done with Mr. Jones’ remains in the past twenty months is unzip the outer handle bag that the box was in to take a peek inside. I’ve also moved it from one home to another. But that’s about it. Oh, yeah… and sometimes, I talk to it... him… Larry.
I hear that’s normal.
But finally, this summer, the kids and I are planning to release some of his ashes at a spot that was special to all of us. We’re all finally ready to take that step. I guess that’s how the topic of a dead person’s ashes came up… the location that we’re planning to do it. We have a permit to release them, so relax, law abiders.
After our coffee talk, I said goodbye to my friend and decided to walk the two blocks down to the beach. I went to the end of E. Street, one block south of the beach entrance where we had the memorial. E Street has a bench and fence keeping you back from falling off a cliff. It just wasn’t enough. I really needed to walk barefoot on the sand and dip my toes in the water, so I decided to walk down to D Street.
As I descended the wooden stairs to the beach, I looked down to the strip of sand where we had all come together to say goodbye. I caught my breath when I saw this at the exact spot of our gathering…
I’ve seen posts of this sand art on my friends’ Facebook walls, but I’ve never actually seen one in person. The posts are usually a few days old, or if it’s the same day, I never get down to the beach until it’s being washed away. But this time, I caught the artist in the act!
I stopped halfway down the staircase just to admire it. And maybe because the conversation was so fresh, and how weird that it was just after I was talking about him and had that feeling that I should go down to the sand, but I started thinking about how life is just like this… so beautiful and temporary.
And cue the tears that have yet to stop flowing.
I walked down to the water to talk to the artist to ask him why he does it… why he spends so much time creating this beautiful thing that will just be washed away within a few hours. With rake in hand, he was working on another piece, precariously closer to the water. Why? It’s just going to wash away faster? He glanced at me from the side and once I said “Hello,” he walked stiffly away down the beach. Maybe he didn’t hear me. “Hi! Hey… I was wondering…” The artist picked up the pace. It was clear he did not want to have a heartwarming chat with me.
After I gave up the chase, I thought how silly it was to go up and ask him what, no doubt, countless others have asked. What else could his reasons be beyond making something beautiful that people might delight in, no matter how temporary?
And that’s when I realized he was just like God.
I’ve had so many conversations with God over the past twenty months. More like arguments. I was never really mad at God for all that we’ve gone through. We all make our own decisions. Free will, yada yada. But there were just some dark moments that I couldn’t understand the reasoning for any of it. What was any of this about?
I walked over to the spot up against the cliffs where I had looked down the beach at all of Mr. Jones’ friends who had come together to say goodbye. It was such a beautiful evening to celebrate a sad situation. But everyone shared memories that they cherished about their time with him… and I guess that’s the point. All things in life, from the blessings to the hardships, are temporary and yet… still beautiful.
So that’s what it’s all about, I suppose. Living for those moments of beauty and delight, and feeling blessed that it every happened at all when it’s eventually swept away with the tide.