Inspired by untranslatable words for love & loss, this cross-generational story illustrates how many forms can be woven into a life: friendship, passion, romance, family ties, spirituality, bonds with animals and nature, and above all, compassion for the self.
1960's New York & France: Edie & Oliver are separated during a crucial time in their family and must make life-or-death decisions by letter.
Present-day Florida: Sadie finds herself at home with undesirables, but fears her unraveling plans and small, lost dreams will leave her empty-hearted.
She expected it be strange, driving with the box of ashes in the passenger’s seat, but it wasn’t.
It was fantastic.
The sun was up and the windows were down as they coasted down the beach road, snaking through the pale dunes. She put on Cocaine, wondering vaguely if she was missing out on coke because of him. He’d told her which drugs were worth trying but asked her to please stay away from that one, and she’d followed his advice, so far.
His box was made of wood, with palm trees carved into the lid. It said California Nuts & Dates, which was perfect because he was nuts. And no one would know this was where she hid the little handful she kept from the grave.
The problem with pouring the ashes into it, though, was that she’d looked at them again.
The first dispassionate glance was always fine.
Gray sand. Dust. Nothing, really.
It was the tiny solid bits that made her fingers and toes go numb, and put the fire and the grinding machine in her mind’s eye. What would it be like to do that for a living? Burn bodies and grind up the bones and teeth until they were small enough to be less upsetting to people? Pour it all into a box and hand it to the sad person in the lobby?
That wasn’t quite how it had gone, but Sadie remembered it that way. People must enter that building in all kinds of states – it would be interesting to observe.
Some would be angry, she thought. Preventable deaths were so annoying. Why’d you have to die? And anger was just a surface emotion, she knew now. Underneath it, the true demons lurked: rejection, heartbreak, vulnerability. Being mad was easier than being those other things.
Of course, there would be some decent folks who died properly, leaving some sort of plan behind. She pictured a well-dressed widow, grieving somewhat daintily over a lifelong partner. She’d hold an estate-planning binder with instructions to follow and assets to manage. She would carry a photo of her beloved in her pocketbook and talk about him as if he still existed for years to come.
Some people would be relieved, though they may not admit it. They might not even want the box.
Then Sadie wondered how many were like her, having to wrestle it away from someone who didn’t deserve it, frantic to bury their love in the ground where it would stay put.