Spending time with my siblings is almost always a good time. Today was no exception.
We had this day planned for months, a holiday weekend where my sister would visit from Minnesota, we would visit the farm together and then take a trip to a beautiful state park that borders on the Wisconsin River: Wyalusing. She would have my nieces and I would bring Amelia.
The day started as it should have, but Amelia had spent the night at a friends and wasn’t awake in time for me to leave, so I went alone. On the hour and a half drive to the farm I had a lot to think about. I was feeling lonely and angry. When I walked into the farm instead of hugs and smiles, I met them with a cold stare. I stated “I’m in a bad mood and I need a minute to be alone.” I didn’t have a definate reason why, but the day needed no explanation. I picked up my 3 year old niece and hugged her tight and started to cry, she was wearing a purple dress and a cat ear headband.
After lunch we all drove separate to the state park with my oldest niece riding with me who just turned 10. We talked about her goals and what she wants to be when she grows up. I tried to ask any question that would take my mind off what we were there to do.
As we arrive to the park the five of us set off down the trail, Stan with his girls. Clementine the youngest with no fear running down this technical single track, bringing a smile to my face. Elizabeth falling about 200 yards in basically in slow motion. Madeline being careful and carrying a purple flower. Stan leading the way, map in hand. Myself taking in the trails wanting to be running them, but carrying precious cargo instead.
We reach our destination; the river. It’s high and we realize we will need to remove our shoes and socks and move closer to the current to complete our task. Madeline the ever so helpful young lady was in charge of documenting. The three of us make our way to the edge of the water and move far enough out where it was still safe. Stan the baby went first, I handed him the bag. “Should we say something? What should we say?” We agreed that we would each say what we needed to to ourselves.
I began to cry again, watching Stan pause before he let the first of our mothers ashes into the water. I cried as I watched them swirl together in an intricate dance before floating downstream. I was next. I thought about the things I wanted to say to her, how I was still confused about my feelings and the grief that is still present. Elizabeth went last, I held onto my brother as I watched my sister meticulously empty the remainder and rinse the bag in the river.
That was it, we cried our silent tears and made as much peace as we each could. Stan taught the girls to skip rocks and we made our way out with a mile climb back to the top. Just as we reached the parking lot the rain started. This is exactly what she would have wanted, us kids going to a park that none of us have visited in our adult lives to hike to the river she requested she lay. With kids laughing, playing, wiping dirt on their face, being free.