Yesterday we took one last opportunity to say goodbye to Bryan – beloved husband, devoted father, cherished son and adored brother.
We spent the day on the Puget Sound and scattered Bryan’s ashes. I wanted to enjoy the day, the company of family and friends and remember him with my whole heart. We headed out of Liberty Bay toward Brownsville, where Bryan and I moor our own boat.
We navigated the sound on a couple of adorable electric boats. We couldn’t have had a more beautiful day if we’d custom-ordered it. The sun was brilliant and the water sparkled and it was warm and slightly breezy.
I had the beautiful urn that Jim made for us. I also asked a local florist for a bag of flower petals; she saved roses for me for several days and wouldn’t accept a dime. Mom brought a small box of skipping stones and encouraged us to write messages on them. I engraved a small brass heart with the words, “Bryan Merrell, 1963-2009, With our love.”
When we neared Brownsville harbor, we tied the boats up together. The captain recited parts of Psalm 107:23-43 for us:
Those who go down to the sea in ships,
Who do business on great waters;
They have seen the works of the LORD,
And His wonders in the deep.
For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind,
Which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths;
Their soul melted away in their misery.
They reeled and staggered like a drunken man,
And were at their wits’ end.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
And He brought them out of their distresses.
He caused the storm to be still,
So that the waves of the sea were hushed.
So He guided them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness,
And for His wonders to the sons of men!
When they are diminished and bowed down
Through oppression, misery and sorrow,
He sets the needy securely on high away from affliction,
And makes his families like a flock.
We scattered his ashes over the side; they swirled and eddied in the water and finally disappeared into the sparkle of the sun’s reflection.
Then everyone tossed rose petals into the water; it was slack tide with no current, so the roses drifted out into a giant halo around our boats.
Mom pulled out the stones and we skipped them into the water; the moment of levity was perfect. I am horrible at skipping stones but managed to get one at the right angle. My sister Cheri was a pro.
We passed around the little engraved brass heart around and thought of him, then I asked his mom to release it after the ashes and roses. It drifted slowly down into the water, flashing and turning in the sun, and gradually faded from sight. Someday maybe some intrepid scuba diver will find it, covered in silt and encrusted in verdigris.
Bryan’s final resting place – besides, of course, in our hearts – is 47-40’49.0″ N, 122-36″56.3″ W, in 26.3 feet of water.
According to a friend, the ashes will find their way out the Strait and into the Pacific, where they will continue to circulate counterclockwise over a 3.5 year period, up to Alaska, over to Japan, down to the South Pacific, and back to North America. I really like that idea.
We sat there, drifting, for some time, some of us sharing memories and others sitting contemplatively.
It was a beautiful way to say goodbye. We will always love him and will miss him tremendously.