My husband Andy died last year. People ask if and when I’m scattering his ashes. The answer is I’m not, they are staying with me. So I wrote a little story about doing it instead.
I wanted to keep your boots. They cremated you with them anyway. The funeral director had been understanding about the deposit paid late, so I let it go. Your family wanted to scatter your ashes in the Lake District. Fair enough. It’s nice there, smooth land, safe underfoot and calm waters. But I scooped half of you into a fancy box to keep all for myself. A cloud of dust puffed up though I worked slow and steady.
The relatives and me trundled up to Ambleside in a hired car, one with new rubber tyres making too easy work of the motorway. There wasn’t much to talk about at the lake’s edge. The water’s surface so solemn and covered in thick invisible skin, I dipped and touched it with the very tip of my finger. It trembled but didn’t break. A man in swimming trunks appeared. He stood there then walked in to the water, slowly, ‘til he was waist deep. Your auntie tutted but couldn’t stop staring. I told the story about your boots. Your family didn’t know. I think they wanted someone to be angry at. May as well be the funeral director or swimming trunks guy. We all took a handful of ashes. My words to you, about you, came out wrong and ashes hit water more loudly than you’d think. And 50% of you is a lot of handfuls, babe. Still I imagined most, all of it, was 100% boot.