I wake up at 3 am sideways in my bed, displaced by dog and cat. My mouth is throbbing from my latest dental excursion; visit two of four, replete with scraping and drilling and grinding and prodding and lasers in my mouth. Lasers in my mouth that smell of burning. It’s 3 am. I’m wide awake and in pain. I take some over the counter pain killers and it takes another two hours of fitful thrashing before I fall back to sleep.
3 am is a terrible, no good, useless hour when one has a work-a-day life. 3 am is too early to wake up, but too late to go back to sleep. It’s the hour when all of the terrible things you’ve ever done or said settle in for a good long visit. I call those the cringe thoughts and they always appear in the wee hours when I am trying, and failing, to sleep.
Later in the morning, my phone starts buzzing and beeping every three seconds. It’s Facebook Messenger, an application I never use, but I just got a new phone last weekend and forgot to turn it off.
“This message is for anyone who spoke to me directly about being there for the final dissolution of Male’s remains.”
What does that even mean? It takes a minute and more reading the conversation to realize that they’re talking about spreading Male’s ashes. The message is from one of Male’s oldest friends.
I know Male was cremated only a few days after he died. I know that some of his ashes were already spread in Philadelphia, where he grew up half the time. Male was the child of divorced parents who got along so terribly that living on opposite coasts of the United States seemed like the only reasonable solution. He really had two hometowns.
It hadn’t occurred to me that something eventually needed to be done with the rest of them.
Since Male died, all the arrangements have been made without me. Some through Facebook conversations I wasn’t privy to; some at the memorial, where I ran away screaming as soon as I could.
I feel like an afterthought. I wasn’t even added to this Facebook Messenger conversation until another friend said I should be included, so I missed over half the conversation that happened before I got there.
What is this “anyone who spoke to me directly” business? I didn’t give my opinion as to whether I wanted to be there for this spreading of ashes, because I didn’t even know this was a thing that was happening.
“I think you left the memorial by the time Male’s mom mentioned that I would be handling final disposition of his remains. Some of his remains were spread off the coast of Maine, some in Philadelphia and some released in balloons in LA.”
Wait, Maine? What the fuck does Maine have to do with anything? And what’s this about balloons? When the fuck did that happen?
After I left the memorial, they put some of Male’s ashes into balloons and set them loose over Los Angeles. How absolutely hokey. Male would have thought that was the dumbest idea ever. He would have hated that (and the bagpipes at his memorial). I can hear him saying, “Why not get some white doves while you’re at it?”
The more I read of this conversation, the less involved I feel in Male’s life after death, so to speak. I’m starting to get pissed, which is just masking the hurt that I am not involved in any of this except as an afterthought.
His friend continues:
“Male and I had a conversation back in the day about spreading his ashes on the ocean in northern California. If he expressed something different to you more recently, please, say so.”
Male didn’t give two twats about his remains. He believed that once you’re gone, you’re gone. There’s no more of Male in those ashes than there is of him in my little finger. He’s gone.
“I had no idea that any of this happened or was going to happen. I didn’t speak to you directly about ‘being there for the final dissolution of Male’s remains,’ because this is the first I’ve heard of any of it. Speaking of not hearing things, who has his computer? I’ve asked for several things he wrote for months and months now, and I still do not have them.”
That and many other questions went unanswered. I’m pissed. I’m hurt. I’m left out. In keeping with everything else regarding Male’s death, I was only added to the conversation later. His mother never even called me. Apparently, to his mother et al, being someone’s life partner for fifteen years counts for squat compared to people he knew from the time he was a teenager, yet rarely saw. I am the last person he talked to; the person he really talked to. It counts for nothing.
So, now I have to decide whether I want to drive hours and hours to be a part of this ash spreading business. Part of me wants to tell them all to fuck right the hell off. Some small control freak part of me wants to have a little tin of Male’s ashes all to myself, but then I think it would be creepy to keep my dead boyfriend’s ashes in a Folger’s can on my mantelpiece. Then, I remember I don’t even have a mantel. Death’s a bitch.