We sent him down the Willow River, the water flowing north, even though it will eventually turn south. The Willow flows into the mighty Fraser River, and the Fraser into the sea. He will stay in his beloved Canada, he will stay in BC, he returned when his young children needed him. He loved this land, this place, the life he carved out for himself and those around him. He is gone and yet all around, part of something so much larger and so much smaller.
Today, we went out to the Willow River, about a half an hour from town, and we pulled into the rest area parking lot, we clambered out of cars, scrambled down the caved-in bank, finding ourselves in six square feet of gravel real estate, creek flowing before and behind.
This is just the start of spring so high in the mountains, and the rivers have only started to pick up. The trees have only a haze of green that may be seen from a distance, the combined effect of a million buds starting to open, obscured when you look more closely, seeing only a few buds at a time. What is near so often obscures what is further away. The larger effect can eclipse the small now.
In our tiny bit of borrowed real estate on the shallow bank of a swiftly flowing creek, we made the space holy with love and memory. Blue sky our stained glass, the sound of water in a canyon an organ, birds our choir, praise echoing off canyon walls. Trees more stately, sky more blue, water more cold.
We took handfuls, carefully throwing them out into the river, watching the water eddy and then carry them a way.
Finally, Mr. Spit took the rest of the bag, he the oldest son walking out onto a tiny promontory and with words from the Book of Common Prayer, he poured the rest into the fast moving water. I know that Otto is gone, but in that moment, in the seconds he was carried past me, I thought only of him, my memories consumed me, and for the briefest of bits I floated with him. All really does turn to dust. My bible tells me that we were made from the dust of the earth, and we return to the earth, saying alleluia. This is the song of men and angels, terrible and joyous, sadness and sorrow, death and Resurrection.
On swiftly moving water, more northerly than easterly, we sent Otto back to the sea, releasing him to the Creator, ashes to ashes, dust to dust. In sure and certain hope of the communion of saints, in sure and certain hope of seeing him again, we sent him more northerly, carried on the swell of a swiftly flowing creek, blue sky above, birds singing, the smell of new leaf and old growth all around.