Posted by: Suzan | September 8, 2009

Sophia’s Endless Spirit Joins the Sea

sophia's ashes at sea




Farewell SophiaWe boarded the 54 foot boat. “What a beautiful yacht this is,” I said.

 Captain George replied, “This is not a yacht – it is a sport fishing boat.”

 Other than the fishing poles lining the rear of the boat, it had all of the comforts of home including a washer/dryer; large walk in shower; and a faucet feature which poured exact shots of hard liquor. Rich, polished wood and sophisticated, though compact, furnishings comprised the vessel’s interior– I had no idea how one could tell the difference.

Captain George had agreed to take us out to pay a final tribute to our dear friend, my ‘adopted mother,’ Sophia. She’d asked to have her ashes disbursed at sea, along with her husband, Harold, who passed away10 years before her.

Sophia’s niece, Bonnie, knew someone with a boat at the Oceanside harbor who happened to be a friend of the Captain. In life, it is so often ‘who you know’ – even when one wishes to take someone’s ashes out to sea. For a nominal fee, he took us out the required distance to the international waters 3 miles from shore. A few years earlier he’d taken his wife out to these same ocean waters in her urn. He could appreciate returning the remains of well-lived souls to flowing, endless waters.

Most of us sat out on the front of the boat next to the dingy indulging the incoming ocean breeze on this sultry, 3-digit summer day. Others stayed in the back of the boat in the shelter of the shade.

White caps soon surrounded the boat. Splashes occurred all around us as dolphins of all sizes surfed the waves. Some dove underneath the front of the boat as if they were the helm leading us forward. Pelicans and dolphins competed for the abundant fish jumping in the area.

The ocean had become a veritable playground. I’d never seen so many dolphins in my life and knew Sophia had something to do with this. She was all about play, joy, and full expression. Having been a clown, a real one who dressed in costume, even with an oxygen tank at her side, I could imagine her now in her dolphin regalia spreading love and fun across the sea.

Soon we could barely hear the whir of the motor over the camera shutters in motion. With four professional photographers in our midst and other amateur shooters, we had every angle covered.

A short while later the air became more still as the boat slowed down. Our dolphin brigade had left us. Ahead we noticed the buoy marking the international waters. One by one we returned to the rear of the boat holding on carefully to the railing. We then set out the fresh cut flowers including the dozen pinkish, white roses I’d picked up earlier that morning. We took group photos holding Sophia and Harold in their sturdy plastic bags noticing his had a darker tinge. Harold had a darker complexion so his ashes had one also. His bag felt more like lifting weights at the health club. Sophia had been so frail, only 80 pounds at her death, so hers seemed less than half the weight of his.

I realized this would be my last pose with Sophia. Instead of her arms embracing me with her beautiful, infinite smile and contagious laughter, I held a still plastic bag filled with what looked like sand from the beach. She would return to the place which had enamored her most of her life. Sophia and I had spent many afternoons at the Oceanside Dock where Captain George’s boat resides. We’d often dined at one of the seafood restaurants and then walked around the area to be soothed by the water’s calming presence. Later in her life she didn’t venture much farther than to and from the car and restaurant. Peering out the window at the harbor seemed to satisfy her desire to be near the ocean waters.

I looked over and Regina motioned for me to give her Sophia’s ashes. It was time to ‘let go.’ She took Sophia’s ashes in one hand and Harold’s in the other, leaned over the side of the boat, and converged the two into the welcoming waters.

Immediately the ashes spread out as if a huge beam of light had illuminated the ocean. The waters changed to a brilliant Caribbean color of light turquoise and remained so for at least 15 minutes while we all leaned over to take this in – in utter silence.

As the ashes trailed out to another dimension; we each took turns throwing the fresh cut flowers overboard with a prayer and/or words of love for Sophia as she drifted away from us for her final voyage.

Her endless Spirit joined the sea; her towering love will remain forever a huge part of me.



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