Have you ever found yourself standing in a room and all you can think is I shouldn’t be here?
A few weeks after losing Evalyn, I stood in the funeral directors wanting to scream at the salmon-coloured walls. Why was I here? Why me? What had I done to deserve this? Why had life chosen this path for me? Inwardly, I wanted to collapse onto the floor in a heap. Outwardly though, I sat on a chair and waited as the kind lady who had organised Evalyn’s funeral walked over to me.
“Hello,” she smiled, “I’ll just go and get Evalyn for you.”
Her choice of words warmed my heart and broke it all at the same time. There was a part of me that wished she would walk into the back office and emerge with a living, breathing Evalyn in her arms and announce that all of this had been a huge mistake. In reality, she appeared holding a little, cream tube which she passed to me with a sad smile and a reassuring embrace.
I looked down and desperately tried to keep the tears in. Nine months of pregnancy, a horrendous thirty hours at the hospital, a funeral I never expected to attend and there she was.
The baby I had nurtured inside of me and given birth to and the baby I had held had been reduced to ashes in a tube. An ashes tube with a picture of a little teddy bear on the outside and a piece of paper wrapped around it explaining to me (just in case I was still having trouble believing it) that, yes, this was my daughter.
There are two options after death. A cremation or a burial. These are options that as parents, we never hope to make for our children. We are not supposed to see the end of our children’s lives. And my mind constantly went back and forth about what would be the best decision for Evalyn. For us, we wanted her to be free. And as I currently have cremation written on my own will, it didn’t seem fair to bury Evalyn when I know I will never be laid to rest beside her. I liked the idea that one day, many years from now when I have lived my life for her, we can somehow be free together.
When we arrived home, I took Evalyn’s ashes to her room and felt the tears start to form. I should’ve been placing Evalyn in her cot. Instead I placed her on the shelf and let the pain wash over me. . . . .
The scattering of Evalyn’s ashes has been an ongoing proccess. In my head, I’d imagined we would just go somewhere, let her go and it would be done. But I found myself really thinking about where I wanted Evalyn’s essence to touch the world.
On the morning of 3rd December 2016 when the air was cold but the sun was shining, we went to one of our favourite woodland places. Nick had a particular spot in mind and when he showed me, I knew it was perfect. I already knew that this would be the place we would find ourselves coming back to time and time again.
“Are we going to sprinkle Evalyn’s star dust?” Ieuan asked.
After my Grandad died when I was only twelve years old, my family had a star named after him. Ieuan knew about this star. We would look up into the night sky and look for the brightest star we could find. That was Grandad Alan. So naturally, when Evalyn died, she had become a star too. Rather than try to explain the concept of ashes to a four year old, we told him that Evalyn had sent down some star dust that we could sprinkle in her memory. And that’s what we did.
We let her free in a beautiful spot and afterwards, we stood and took the moment in. I never cried. Isn’t it funny how I was able to remain calm as I scattered my daughter’s ashes, yet walking past a Pampers sale at the supermarket reduces me to tears?
We didn’t scatter them all on that day. Myself and my mum had decided that we wanted an item of jewellery each made from Evalyn’s ashes. And the rose bushes that we had planted in our garden still needed to be graced with some ‘star dust’. I wanted her to have a beautiful place, but I also wanted a little piece of her at home, and a little piece of her to keep. . . .
My neclace was beautiful. I’d always had mixed thoughts about ashes jewellery. How could people wear their loved ones ashes on them? But then we lost Evalyn and it all made complete sense. Having a piece of your loved one helps you to feel close to them. And the wonderful people at Ashes To Glass did the most amazing job of creating something beautiful for me to keep forever.
The rose bushes that looked bare and cold when we first planted them in December have now begun to bloom. We planted one for Evalyn and one for Ieuan (because he didn’t want to be left out). Ieuan’s slightly disappointed that his bush currently only has one rose whilst Evalyn’s has seven. I like to think that Evalyn’s ashes and her essence in the soil have given her a slight upper hand!
When I received my Evalyn neclace, I also received the remainder of her ashes that weren’t used. I believed up until that moment that Evalyn’s ashes had been scattered and that part of our journey had passed. Instead I found myself holding onto my neclace in one hand and in the other, a little see-through bag containing the last of her ashes and her name. Nick decided that as we now had a part of Evalyn left, he too would buy himself an item of jewellery and even though we may not wear them every day, we both know that we have a part of Evalyn with us.
That’s what Evalyn’s ashes have given to us. Comfort. Just in the same way that a grave may bring comfort to others. I go walking in our special place, and I feel Evalyn in the breeze. I come home and glance at Evalyn’s roses and I am instantly reminded of her own beauty. I wear my neclace and I feel her close.
Nearly seven months on, there was only one thing left to do . . . .
“I’ll be glad when we’ve done this,” I told Nick on the drive up to Evalyn’s special place. “I will just feel better when it’s done.”
We walked through the beautiful woodland to Evalyn’s spot and I pulled the little clear bag from my own and looked at the ashes within them. I opened them up, looked at Nick and Ieuan, and together we scattered the last of her in a place that will hold a piece of our hearts forever. . . .
Be free, Evalyn. Be free and be happy.