Another crazy busy week. Mark and I have been planning Grace's memorial service. It will be 2 weeks from today. We need to find a priest, get the house cleaned, get the carpets cleaned, pick out flowers, prepare music, decide on readings, e-mail invitations, have her pictures printed, and most importantly select her urn. We decided that she needs to be in her urn by the memorial, no plastic box from the mortuary.
Urn shopping was, as you would expect, hard. I started right after she died. At first just looking at urns that small sent me into sobbing fits, I wanted my babies body back, not ashes in an urn! I hated the plastic box the mortuary returned her to us in, so I kept looking. As the weeks went by Mark and I started to develop an idea of what we wanted. He wanted to make a sculpture of my hands holding a heart and her remains would be in the heart. I loved the idea, but was worried that he would never get around to making it. Plus I was worried about ceramics being too fragile and one of the cats breaking her urn. We compromised on having a metal urn being held in a sculpture of my hands.
I found tons of metal keepsake urns in the shape of a heart on the internet, but the capacity varied dramatically. I have always hated the idea of ashes being separated, so we needed all of Grace's remains to fit into one urn. We went to three different mortuaries to look at their selection of urns in person and to see if someone could help us find what we were looking for: a metal urn, in the shape of a heart, that could fit into your hand, hold all of Grace's ashes and be engravable with her full name and birth date. It doesn't seem like a unrealistic set of requests. The mortuary staff at all locations seemed pretty unmotivated to help us, we were shown the few baby urns that they have, then put in a room to look at catalogs alone. I guess that was why we stopped looking for a while, it was too hard and we did not know where to turn. But now her memorial was on the horizon and I would not have my beautiful baby in that plastic box when people come to pay tribute to her.
I found an urn on the internet that she would likely fit into, but it could only have 2 lines of engraving with 8 characters each, so her full name would not fit and we would have to leave off her birth date. I was starting to come to terms with the idea that I was not going to find exactly what I wanted, and that this was pretty close, but then I realized that if I bought online I would have to transfer her ashes myself. I know what animal cremains look like, at work I always offer to clients that if they buy an urn elsewhere and need us to transfer the ashes for them we can. No such offer was made by the mortuary that cremated Grace and I was afraid to see her ashes. I like to remember her how she was in the pictures I have, I did not want to think of her as cremains. Mark and I went to one last mortuary to look at their urn selection Tuesday. It is a much smaller business than the other mortuaries we had been to, it was in a bad neighborhood and the outside was not as professional as the others. The owner was so kind to us, she let us come after regular business hours to look at her selection of urns. She worked with us for an hour. She called her son who managed the urn inventory (and was out of state) twice to ask questions we had about the urns. She called her distributor to ask questions about the urn we liked. We found an urn that met most of my requirements, it would have to be engraved on the back, not the front, and she could transfer the cremains for us. She set aside the urn for us and Mark brought Grace's remains the next day for transfer. He watched as she moved our baby from her plastic box to her new resting place. He said that it was done carefully and respectfully. I am so grateful that we found this place and remembered that you can't judge a book by it's cover.
We feel such relief that she is in a beautiful urn. The design has birds in flight, ideally they would have been butterflies, but the birds are lovely. I think about her spirit being in the wind and birds fly on the wind, so it is good. I love that it is metal and you can hold it easily and it gets warm and feels alive once it has been in your hands a few moments. The missing her never stops, but honoring her always makes me feel a little better.