Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fireworks and Quilts

Cliff loved fireworks. We both did. Even our rottweiler did.

So much so that Cliff put balustrading around our decking, complete with a baby-gate, so that Hammer couldn't run down and grab a lit firework before it launched. He'd sit there quivering with anticipation and howl as soon as he heard the fuse start fizzling. The last November the 5th that this extraordinarily intelligent dog of ours was alive, he sat in the middle of the lawn till 02h00 staring at the night sky, not believing that the fireworks had ended.

Cliff would always surprise me by having one firework left, hidden up high, somewhere in the house, just in case there might be something to celebrate.

The last firework was set off at midnight this past New Year's Eve. Just the two of us, which was unusual ... but in retrospect, I'm glad it was just us now.

It's hard to accept that he won't be setting any more off.

Or maybe he will ... because I have made a final decision on what to do with Cliff's ashes.

I am going to have two mo-fo fireworks especially made to scatter his ashes. It's fairly complicated as (in the UK) you have to have an undertaker present when they assemble the firework. Luckily, I know someone who manufactures fireworks (Cliff always bought ours from him) so I have made a note in my diary to get in touch with him tomorrow, so that I can work on all the necessary logistics.

One firework will be launched from the beach in our old hometown, and this will be for his closest friends. I haven't thought much beyond us all raising our glasses to Cliff and having a firework display, perhaps followed by a few drinks in a local pub (which will be a big step for me because so far I have not felt able to go visit any of our old haunts). But I'm sure it won't be a sad and sombre evening. In fact I hope it will be the opposite. And I have visualized myself lighting the fuse on THE firework and seem to be able to do it, so that's what I'll aim for. I'd like his pallbearers to be there and some other close friends, which will be a huge diary exercise, as we'll need to time it so that Roy and Marcus are not in Thailand, as well as fitting in everyone else's commitments. But I have committed to doing this within the next 4 months.

The other firework will be launched from our garden, and this will be for family only. I'd like to launch this one when the house and garden have been finished, and make some cocktails from Cliff's personal creations (the recipes of many of these were faithfully captured by myself at the time and I plan to share them by uploading them on here), along with some good food and laughter ... memory-sharing. Perhaps our wedding anniversary next summer might be a good time, depending on everyone's calendars.

I like the thought of him being free in our old and our new homes. I selfishly like having his ashes near to me, but just as I had to tell him that it was alright for him to leave when he died, I feel that I can't be selfish and keep him cooped up in the scatter-tube that he currently sits in. To alleviate my trepidation of losing him all over again, I have bought a (cremation jewellery) locket so that he will always be near my heart. I know it's silly, and that I carry him in my heart anyway. That he is somewhere else and not actually in that scatter-tube, but still ...

and because I cannot bear the thought of throwing away his clothes, or donating them to a charity shop (for fear that I may see someone wearing one of his shirts ... which would freak me out), I have also made a decision on what to do. I'll keep a few of the clothes that I particularly loved him in or that hold special memories, but the rest? Well, they are going to be turned into a quilt, perhaps something like the example shown here, but I will listen to the quilter's expertise on this.

I have found an extremely gifted quilter (is that a word?) who makes memorial quilts, and she is a widow too. Not only that, she writes a really eloquent blog about the loss of her "dragon" (husband), and somehow the thought of another widow, who walks this path, who knows what I feel and fear makes it even more meaningful.

As I've mentioned before, I have some laundry preserved in plastic, JUST IN CASE, as a security blanket, and occasionally I'll wear one of his shirts to feel him near, or to sleep in. But I really like the idea of a quilt that I can curl up in, especially in the winter months.

Hopefully when I open my in box tomorrow at work, there will be a reply from her. Now all I need to do is get ready to start cutting fabric from his clothes, and that may take more than one or even two attempts ... but I'll get there.

Here are the links to her blog about her loss, as well as her blog on memory quilts:


  1. you will indeed have a reply from womanNshadows. she will tell you that you don't need to cut up his clothes. she will do that for you. she will read your blog, all your words that convey your relationship and she will read your notes that you'll attach to Cliff's clothes. she'll maybe read that this shirt is your favorite. or this one is the one he wore on your birthday one year. she'll read the handful of notes that you take the time to write and attach with safety pins to certain items and with all that, she'll lay his clothes out whole. only then will she create your quilt. that's when it will all swirl inside her heart for only there is where these kinds of quilts can be made.

    i look forward to hearing from you so that i can give you comfort in turning Cliff's things over to me so that i can give you a tangible solace for an intangible but very apparent sorrow.

  2. Great decisions, Boo! I love the fireworks idea and the quilt plan. My boys and I are looking forward to getting our quilts in a few months from womanNshadows. The process of going through clothes was harder and sweeter than I thought it would be. The boys and I picked our favorites and talked about when Dad wore certain things. We laughed, we cried and we look forward to wrapping ourselves in our quilts.

    I also ordered a locket to hold ashes (but it hasn't arrived yet - hopefully soon!) as we kept a few ashes back from the big send-off this summer at the ocean. I also ordered the boys and I each a carved, wooden piece that holds a few ashes and serves almost like a headstone, a place we can go to if we need (though I talk to him everywhere, the boys wanted a place to keep some of Dad's ashes). Each one holds a battery operated candle that the boys have taken to turning on as a nightlight. It both warms and breaks my heart to check in on them when they're sleeping and see the glow from their Dad's "memory box".

    Good luck with all your plans. All the work will be worth it when you know you've sent Cliff's ashes off on a great adventure.



  3. womanNshadows, thank you thank you :-) I was getting quite panicky about cutting up Cliff's clothes! There will be one or maybe two shirts in particular that I want to keep, but I will send you a "patch" from each of those. I'll email you back tomorrow and look forward to talking with you. I am so pleased I have found you. I hope you get some sleep tonight and will be thinking of you.

  4. Debbie, I didn't realize that you had ordered quilts too :-) It's nice to think of us all wrapping ourselves in our husbands favourite and well-worn clothes, as well as the memories. Yes, I can picture myself crying and laughing when I sort through them all ... did you get the locket from the same place I did (Australia) ... mine has arrived and I really love it, but haven't got round to filling it. NOT YET. I love the memory box idea that you have done, so apt for kids. It's like he's watching over them while they sleep which I know he will be doing anyway :-) You're right, the fact that his ashes are imprisoned in the tube is starting to bother me, he was such a free spirit so I want him to be free ... so I will feel that I have done the right thing for him when he has reached the sky, and it will be as if he is all around me at home, and back on the beach that he spent so much time on many years ago, free and wild HUGS xx

  5. What beautiful ideas.
    I have always loved fireworks too. It is almost like turning him into a star which, from all you have written about Cliff, seems like a very appropriate thing.
    And WomanNShadows quilts are just beautiful and so moving. I am sure that is the right thing to do with his clothes.
    J xxx

  6. Oh wow J, thank you for that ... I hadn't thought of it that way, but I shall now :-)

    Yes, unfortunately I don't even know how to thread a sewing machine, and my hand-sewing skills are limited to putting buttons back on shirts, but I thought more on what you had written about your quilt and then happened to come across WomanNShadows' blog ... so it feels like it was meant to be.

    Speak soon

  7. I had to stop reading earlier because I could not see through my tears. What a wonderful thing to do with his ashes.


  8. Oh Lynette, I'm sorry it made you cry hon ... it seems to fit with the whole - they are are flying around out there somewhere - thing :-) Big HUGS xx