I slept with my aunt's ashes last night.
They're in the box the crematorium sent, which is now resting in a paisley, purple decorative box people usually use for photos. My purple prayer beads rest on top.
I don't have much to say tonight. I miss my aunt terribly.
And I keep writing...
Life comes down to ashes. We have to do what matters to us. We have to leave our mark - like my aunt did, with her barge. And we have to laugh.
I'm good with that first part. I'm dedicated to my craft. But laughing is hard for me sometimes. Melancholy is my default emotion.
I have to remind myself that it's not my only one.
Happiness is a choice. Sometimes it's not an easy one. My aunt was happy, and happy with her choices. There's no reason to mourn her when she lived the life she imagined - just like Thoreau urged!
But I do mourn her. I guess that's natural. I've never dealt well with death (does anyone?) My neighbor died and it took me about a year to finally write a note to her husband expressing my sorrow, because I just couldn't deal with it. And yet, I'm sure our souls live on. So what is there to be sad about?
I don't know. I just am. I guess this is what they call grief. Another label. You know how I feel about those.
My aunt played in the orchestra of a Broadway show called "No, No, Nanette." I used to listen to the album endlessly. There was a song in the show called, "I Want to Be Happy." The words went like this:
"I want to be happy, but I can't be happy, 'til I make you happy too. When skies are grey and they say you are blue, I'll send the sun shining through. 'Cause I want to be happy, but I can't be happy, 'til I make you happy too!"
Although she had to play this song, my aunt didn't subscribe to its message. She said that we are all responsible for our own happiness, and anything else makes us emotional hostages. (My aunt was dramatic.) So I will do my best to honor her by making myself happy.
It really is a choice - that begins with a smile.
I'm smiling now.