Lara and her kids left Chicagoland for Italy last Friday; Dad, Lisa and Danai arrived in London on Monday, ending this American chapter of our family's story.
Today, just after Lisa and Danai left to reunite with Lisa's husband in Laos, my last six boxes of possessions, lovingly stored by Rachel Klem in these intercontinental years, arrived from America, ending all material ties to my mother country.
After Lisa left, I went through the old slides and photos my sisters had scanned to CD, then I helped Dad arrange his things into the space left by Lisa and her departed luggage, moving clothes, stacking suitcases and sorting miscellanea, when I picked up a pair of headphones and the box they rested on from the floor, when Dad said, in the casualest breath, "Those are Mom's ashes". It was as if those words were made of lead, as I suddenly felt the heft of the box in my hands. I rather uncomfortably held them and moved towards the hallway, where we have bookshelves, as it seemed like the only appropriate direction to go when you're holding someone's ashes was towards a shelf.
I'd known they were bringing Mom's ashes to stay with me, as our family's scattered and in flux for a while, but in all the chaos of the recent weeks, I'd honestly forgotten about it. And suddenly, mid-sentence about where to store a pair of headphones, I was holding Mom's ashes - holding Mom - in my hands. This big life and personality, every memory of her, was unexpectedly in a 6" x 6" box in my hands.
I'd felt uncomfortable and unsure about Mom's ashes living here, so I never thought about where they would actually go. I walked her ashes towards the shelves in the hallway, but they are filled with books and board games, and I couldn't imagine Mom there. So I brought them into my room, where I cleared a snug space for them on my bedside shelves, where I can sleep next to Mom again for awhile. I'm no longer uncomfortable or unsure; I'm just glad to have her near.
Mom and Dad, the day this crazy Coley story officially started.
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