Prior to losing Barry, I had never lost anyone close to me. Sure, I’ve lost grandparents, but they lived on the other side of the world and I didn’t know them all that well. Talking to them on the phone just wasn’t done because it cost a fortune to phone overseas then. And there was no such thing as the internet. They were just names and faces in photos to me. I was naturally upset when they passed away, but I admit the hurt didn’t last long. Losing pets left me more devastated.
Then, just over a year ago, a friend lost her aunt. I could see that life had changed for her. I knew that the grief took a firm hold of her. I thought I understood and I tried to be supportive and comforting, but I realise now that I had no idea. No idea whatsoever. At that stage, I hadn’t experienced what it was like to lose someone who meant the world to you.
Then I lost Barry. I feel this was a cruel way of learning about the hurt. I lost my son. Can it get much worse?
The viewing, his funeral and the bringing home of his ashes feel like a dream. Did they really happen? I guess they did, because I have a deserted bedroom where my boy should be sleeping at night. After eight months, I still find it hard to grasp. Barry is gone.
In four months we will be facing the first anniversary of his death. I hate the word anniversary, because it sounds like a celebration and that isn’t how I will view this day.
I’ve decided that for my own sanity I have to finalise Barry’s “affairs” before the anniversary date. Maybe then I can start moving forward. At eighteen, he didn’t leave a lot to be sorted out. He took it upon himself to throw out his own belongings, which I’ve since discovered included his Birth Certificate and his School Certificate (two items I would have kept forever). The official “affairs” will only take a few phones calls and letters to finalise, I hope.
However, I still have the ashes to attend to.
Everyone has different views on this, which I’m quickly finding out. However, Barry was my son and he was under my care. I took care of him, I arranged his funeral, and I think it should be left to me to decide what is done with his ashes.
I have strong feelings about what needs to be done. It’s important to me to ensure there’s a place where future generations can visit and say “Barry Andrew Henderson” existed. He lived…and died…here.
At the moment, his ashes are sitting on his bed. That’s fine, while we continue to live in this house, but when we have to move (which will happen one day, because we rent) I don’t think it’s healthy to dismantle that room and rebuild it somewhere else. Barry lived in this house, that bedroom was his domain, so to have his ashes in there … feels and is right. To do the same in another place of residence, where Barry has never been, would be wrong. My mind is quite clear on that.
Because of this I’ve been in no hurry to do anything with the ashes. However, I already know that the ashes must be placed prior to moving out of this house. Yesterday, I rang and spoke to someone about the local cemetery. Can you believe that I didn’t even know where it is located? I got the address and tomorrow we will visit the cemetery and have a look around and find out what our options are.
This is going to be another major hurdle for us, for me. I keep telling myself that I’m just looking for now, there’s no hurry. I just need to know what can be done later. I need to allow those options time to swim around in my mind and let my heart get used to the idea.
Because I know my heart will scream endlessly when it’s time…
Edit – 28 January 2007: Read about the outcome of the cemetery visit in The Ashes Wall.