Sunday, December 9, 2012

Fulfilling his last wish

Early on in our relationship, Seth and I talked about what we wanted if one of us ever passed away.

Seth wanted to be cremated and have his ashes spread off the top of Angels landing in Zion’s National Park.

One of our first vacations together, we went to Zion’s National Park.

We even hiked Angel’s landing.

The hike and view was amazing.
Seth and I on top of Angel's landing - 2002

But it’s one of those things that I was glad I did it, but wouldn't do it again. The hike was super hard and parts of it are super scary. One part of it you walk along a ridge, holding onto a chain. It’s cliffs on both sides, one wrong step and you would fall about 5,000 feet before hitting the ground.

Shortly before Seth died, we again talked about what we wanted if one of us died.

He reminded me that he wanted his ashes spread off Angel’s landing. I reminded him that I was keeping half of his ashes, at home with me. In all honesty, really, I shrugged it off. I figured by time he died, I would be far too old to make the hike.

When he did die, my brain constantly reminded me of his wishes.

The following Memorial day, me, my friends and family, all drove to Zion’s National park to fulfill Seth’s last wishes.

I was angry with him. I didn't want to climb that damn mountain, just to dump his ashes over the edge. I could dump them on the ground in Zion’s without having to climb the mountain.

I questioned if Seth even cared now about what happened to his body. I questioned if all that mattered was that I was happy with my decisions for his remains.

 Because I promised him I was spread his ashes off Angel’s Landing, I had to keep my promise.

Even if my promise didn't matter to him anymore.

I knew if I didn't keep my word, it would always haunt me.

I separated his ashes into small bottles. So everyone that went to Zion’s with me, could spread part of Seth. There were people that couldn't make the hike, that spread his ashes elsewhere in Zion’s. With his ashes I mixed the ashes from his 21 year old cat we had to put down years earlier, and sand I brought home from our Hawaii vacation that we took weeks before he died.

We set off really early to hike Angel’s landing. It was freezing cold and dark when we set off on our hike.
The whole hike up Angel’s landing, I was mad. Mad that Seth would ever ask me to do such a chore. Cried thinking about dumping my husband off a cliff. But the army of people that were with me, kept pushing me on. Even when I wanted to turn around and run home.

Source  The flat spot at the top of the picture is Angel's Landing

Once we finally made it to the top of Angel’s landing, I looked out over the valley. And thought “This is it. I came all this way, just to dump his ashes off the edge”.

I was the first to spread my bottle of ashes. I almost couldn't do it.

It seemed like life froze, and it took me a decade to open the bottle that held my husband's ashes.

I have never had so much anxiety and fear running through my veins. The worst had already happened, yet letting go of my husband’s ashes was terrifying.

Once I finally opened the bottle, the wind picked up. Even if I didn't like it or wasn't ready for it, his ashes were taking flight.

It took every ounce of mental power I had, to turn that bottle upside down, and let the wind carry my husband away.

I was shocked at how far his ashes flew. I could see his ashes in the air for miles.

At the end of the day, as much as I hated doing it, I was proud of myself.
Proud that I fulfilled Seth’s last wish.
Proud that I had enough courage to do it.
Proud that I could physically make the hike, especially with everything my body had gone through. 

Proud that I could now rest, knowing I gave Seth his dream.
His dream to fly off Angel’s landing.

Now when I die, some poor soul is going to have to hike my ashes to my husband’s final resting place.
Angel’s Landing. Once thought to be so high that only angel's could get to it. 

Now it all makes sense. My husband is with the Angel's.
Me on top of Angel's Landing, watching my husband fly away.


  1. Beautiful.
    Keeping a promise all the way to the end, says so much about you as a person.
    Even when it is hard
    and heartbreaking.
    You did it.
    My loves last wish was to die at home.
    I didn't think I could do it - I thought "I can't watch him die"
    But he desperately did not want to die in a hospital.
    So - he died at home, in our bedroom, surrounded by his children and in my arms.
    I kept my promise.

    That's what love does. It makes us braver.

  2. Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. I so relate on being terrified to let those ashes go...the final good bye.

  3. Melinda, you are so brave. My husband and I were together for 30 years total and he too wanted his ashes spread in a special place. He had thought his oldest brother would do that but my husbands brothers have walked away. My love has been gone for 2 years and 5 months and I still can't bring myself to let his ashes fly. I know I will need to do it eventually because that is what he wanted and that is the last piece to honoring all his wishes. I also know I will have to do it alone and in a way that scares me because I know it will be so final. You are so brave and for that there is no question in my mind that your love smiled as you honored his final wish. I pray that at some point I am able to do the same. God bless you and carry you in his loving arms always.

  4. My husband wanted his ashes scattered at our local race track....i wanted them scattered in other i had some ashes put into several containers, couple of race tracks, the ocean, vegas, redondo beach, Tom has been gone a year now i can check the ocean off our list. But i do have a busy year for 2013 taking him to all his favorite places.....i did keep some ashes left in his urn...just in case i have forgotten any other place.....wish me luck this is not an easy task....

  5. I did the same thing wuth my husband's ashes and his dog, Emma. He was a fisherman and she his comstant companion in his work. I kept half with me also. But it made me happy to forfil his wishes.

  6. I'd like to express my heartfelt appreciation to all who share their personal experiences. I was not brave enough to have my husband cremated. Part of me was in denial that he was going to beat the cancer and part of me just couldn't let him go...I so admire all who post here as I'm learning the hard way you do need support, most especially from those who are traveling this journey as well.

    God Bless you and keep you. What an awesome place to spread your husband's ashes. So peaceful...

  7. Courage is such a strange thing. So often it is not at all a showy, loud thing but a quiet moving through angers and anxieties and even absurdities to keep faith with what is most special to us, what makes us care most.

    Zion was a special trip to my Dear and me. Bravo to your courage.