(click on pictures to enlarge)
It has been eight very sad weeks for me since Loris died and I’m only just beginning to get used to the fact of him not being here. Actually that’s a lie. In fact a physical part of him is still here. His ashes, in my closet. All that is left of him, a man of 6′ 2″, is 6 lbs of ashes.
Since Loris wanted to be cremated, I found myself reading more than I ever wanted to know about the process. The furnace temperature goes up to around 900C and everything is vaporised except for the bones which are then pulverized into a fine whitish ash. Loris wanted his ashes taken back to Italy which I shall be doing next week. However, I wanted to have some memory of him here in Toronto so I picked two spots that have meaning for me.
The cremation took place at St. James cemetery, one of the oldest cemeteries in Toronto in which many of the founding families of Toronto are buried. The cemetery is large with some fine mausoleums and tombstones and backs onto a ravine. A month after Loris died, I went to the cemetery, picked a large tree towards the top of a slope, dug a small hole at the base, put in a small amount of ashes and planted some daffodil bulbs over the top. I also put a few ashes in the rose garden as Loris loved roses. All this had to be done with secrecy and speed as I don’t think one can randomly go digging in the cemetery so my friend Lindan kept watch while I dug. I like the idea that some of Loris’ ashes will be contributing to flowers blooming in the spring and summer.
Tibetan buddhists believe that the spirit is reincarnated within 49 days following death. I am not a Tibetan buddhist but since I’m not able to read fiction at the moment and can only focus on books or accounts about dying or grief, I had been reading a book about Tibetan beliefs surrounding death. Anyhow, with this idea of 49 days in my head, I took a notion to go down to the Harbourfront on the 49th day, to the building where we had been renting an apartment last year. Loris loved the view of Lake Ontario that we used to look out on and so I threw a few ashes in there in the company of a friend and my nephew Michael who lives in the same building. Afterwards, Mike made us Negroni cocktails (gin, vermouth and bitters) and we had dinner in an Italian restaurant in honour of Loris. For me, it was a nice way to commemorate him as he always said that although he was ill and in bed, he was happy being in that apartment looking out over the lake.
In the last two months, I’ve not only been coping with Loris’ death but I also moved into a new apartment. I’m on the 40th floor of a downtown building with a spectacular view of the eastern part of the city including the lake. I would include a photo but the balcony is still sealed off as it needs more work. New home, no Loris and no idea of what lies ahead. The times for me are indeed a-changing.