We're not a religious family so I don't have faith to draw upon, I only have my own personal reserves, memories and hopes for the future. I don't have tradition to deal with death, for me it's just loss. There is no celebration of anything after, for anything after is simply less than there was before.
We had a small service in a chapel at the cemetary, but as Mike was cremated, there is no tombstone to visit. The cemetary is in Springvale, a long way from where any of our lives are lived, but it had relevance to Mike. Leaving him there, or his ashes at least, didn't mean anything to any of us.
We've all measured our loss and handled it in different ways. My parents have ordered a gorgeous custom made bench which they will install in their garden in a lovely spot with gorgeous views. Loved ones have provided small plaques to add to the bench with messages of memorium. We have planted a pomegranite tree which is growing like wildfire and we call it Mike.
For us, we have Mike sitting with us in our lounge room. It's a rare honest, relaxed photo of him from a couple of Christmas' ago and we're so happy to have it. He sits with us through the days and I talk to him, cry with him and smile at all he was to me. We light a candle for him in the evenings, we make sure he has fresh flowers, two things he wouldn't have been the least bit interested in. The girls also take care of him. Quite spotaneously they include him in our family events. At Halloween he was covered in fake cobwebs and spiders and now he's decorated for Christmas with the little elves arms around him. That's all Leila, they're taking care of him, she says.
Tomorrow marks four months since Mike passed. I feel about the end of the year as I did about the drive back after we'd lost him. As much as 2011 has been so dreadful to us, to him, it was the year when we lost him, but also the last year when we had him with us. Closing this chapter, beginning the first year from day one without him, feels a new challenge in and of itself. The measuring of time, for having lost last year, diminishing not one ounce the pain, but somehow a greater expectation of acceptance.