The Cemetery Ceremony:
From the beginning the thought of burying my wife's ashes gave me an awkward feeling. I've never done this before and worried that I wouldn't do it right, not give it the respect it deserves, etc. But I knew it had to be done.
Even writing this out feels awkward: perhaps it's the same concern as far as giving this story the proper respect, I'm not sure. but it does feel awkward.
The only thing that did feel right was the spot I picked: a little cemetery near our old home located a few miles south of Toquerville, set in a sparsely populated area in Southern Utah.
This home was her favorite, and one of her favorite spots was the cemetery up the hill from where we lived. Many a time we walked the hand in hand at this peaceful place.
Almost as soon as I set the date for the ceremony, I had this feeling that she was with me. It wasn't a strong feeling nor was it constant but I could definitely tell it was her.
As the date approached I got an additional feeling that this wasn't just in some cases a final goodbye and to move on for myself but also for her. In other words she herself couldn't move on until her ashes were put to rest.
It wasn't long after we left on Thursday morning for the 6 hour drive than we ran into extensive road construction. That delayed us for more than three hours, which was a concern as we needed to do this in the daylight hours.
We did end up getting making there a little after four, which gave us time.
The town had changed little in those ten years since I'd seen it last. A few new houses dotted the main street, and the trees were taller.
The main thing I noticed was the traffic: I'd guess it averaged 5 to 6 cars per minute through the town, verses when we lived there you were lucky to get 5 to 6 cars per hour.
But overall it was what I expected. It wasn't until we drove away from the town toward the cemetery and our old house the change hit me like a sledgehammer.
Whereas before you drove by rolling hills to shear cliffs that sat wild and undisturbed for centuries was now nothing but row after row of tract houses.
The hills & cliffs were terraced with them. All the charm beauty and wildness of the country was gone, replaced by multitudes of cloned dwellings.
Even the cemetery had changed, and not for the better. It was still quaint, clean and well managed like before, but whereas it had sat open, surrounded by native plants, it was now enveloped in stark black iron fencing, which prevented us from reaching where we wanted to bury her ashes.
We were tentative as we walked around the small graveyard. It just didn't feel right. I recognized markers from my previous visits, noticed the ones I knew laid to rest after I left, but all the time I felt uneasy, almost alien.
We then took a second, slower walk, concentrating on finding a spot, any spot but to no avail. Nothing looked even remotely like the right place; though in truth I had no idea what I was looking for.
We were standing just outside the entrance, trying to decide what to do next when it felt like gentle hands on both sides of my head. I turned my head slightly to the where these hands wanted me to see and there it was.
I pointed to the place the hands had guided my eyes to and said to my Step son, "how about there?"
He stopped in mid sentence, stared for a quick second then said, "Holy-That's perfect!"
It was at a grassy edge of a corner: To the south, just a few yards from the spot stood a young tree, with all it's branches and leaves dedicated to shading this small oval shaped boulder.
If you stood directly to the north, there you would see a unique window of the large, steep sided hill in the background looking as it did a millennium ago.
The sky seemed brighter and the background noise muted as we walked to the spot she had picked out. My Step Son quickly dug the small hole in the moist soil and almost as quick we put in her ashes and covered it.
He knew that I wanted to spend some time alone with her, so after a short prayer he headed off to the car.
To establish the time line I'll tie together what happened to the both of us.
After he left, I stood there, not knowing quite what to say or do. Then suddenly something hit and I let out a grief wail, not knowing why. Only in the first few months after she died did this happen to me.
I remember leaning my head against the tree, feeling the tears cascade down my face and like times past, and having enough clarity of mind that it seemed like I was distant, almost disembodied.
It left as suddenly as it came. As I stood there catching my breath, my Step Son, who was leaning against the car felt what he described as an enveloping force that surrounded him.
He then realized it was his Mom, and she was giving him a long hug. Then she said to him in a clear voice that was going to talk to her husband.
A few seconds after that I felt her, but not in that exact way. I felt pressure and warmth on my lips for a second.
Then I heard her. Her voice was not only clear, but rather loud. And there was no mistaken, it was her voice.
The first thing she said to me was something akin to, "well, it's about time you found this spot!" That was vintage Signe.
I then remember looking down at the burial spot and hearing her, in a surprisingly loud voice, talk to me. I would either nod or shake my head and utter, "I understand, Dear." or "That's okay, I know," and other phrases of that nature.
I have no idea why I said what I said: my ad hoc answers did not coincide with the ending of any questions or statements.
At one point at the beginning of this I asked myself if I were faking this or making this up. Immediately after asking myself this question I became disembodied; that is I saw myself from a short distance away, looking to the ground and answering as above.
That was proof to me it was if fact real.
I'm sure you understand that most of what she told me was very personal, therefore between her and myself. However I can touch on a few things: my initial thought that she needed us to bury her ashes before she could move on was wrong.
She was waiting for us to she could move on, but it was voluntary on her part. She wanted to let me know things and say goodbye.
And believe me, I sure wish I knew where she was moving on to. But I did discover that there is at least a small journey to be completed in the afterlife.
That's what happened and what my Step Son and I witnessed at the Toquerville Cemetery Thursday, October 15th, 2009.
Here's the spot. She is buried just in front of that small boulder shaded by the tree.