Last week, the crematorium where Ulrich had been sent burned to the ground.
Once we got over the shock, we said, Of course it did.
That has Ulrich’s fingers all over it, my brother said.
He wasn’t one to do anything ordinarily. He had a flair for the dramatic. Given the choice, he’d opt for adventure over the drudgery of everyday life.
He was, after all, a man whose first memory was of being pushed in a pram through the burning, crumbling streets of Dresden while bombs dropped all around.
While we can see how fitting this was for the person he happened to be, our hearts ached for other families who had to experience that terrible news, and on Christmas Eve.
I hope their result was the same as ours.
Ulrich’s ashes were located, safe and sound, in a steel safe.
The box that held them was a bit soot-stained, a bit water-damaged, not unlike his own clothes had been whenever he came home from past geology trips into the bush, hunting for diamonds and gold up north.
Like him, we said.
Since telling this story, I’ve had a lot of people offer their sympathy, which is fine, but I suppose I haven’t hit the crux of the thing which is: we laughed.
We laughed because Ulrich would have, because what else can you do, because life is a multi-hued mix of the darkest dark and the lightest light and in the middle of that, there is that fraying, that static, that absurdity.
What else can you do but take it all in and honour the meaningful accidents.
P.S. While I haven’t been feeling very festive, for obvious reasons, I wish you all a Happy New Year, and plenty of health and happiness in 2015.
we laughed too, as we made the ulrich lit it connection. we really miss him and his wonderful sense of humour. hugh and ennis
My mom loved that you guys burst out laughing as soon as she told you. You just got it. 🙂
Only a writer has the compulsion to make the connections – Dresden and a crematorium’s burning, and see humour and the story’s arc that brings threads together in a finale, leaving this reader thoughtful, enriched.
May your 2015 continuing mining this vein.
Thanks, Sarah. All the best to you as well. I hope we shall have coffee in Flin Flon some day 🙂
Wishing you the best of winter, time for healing and being still.
Thanks so much, Ruth.
Life is one big coincidence if we only look closely and cleanly and listen well. I wish I had been with you when I would have seen that familiar, almost mischievious family smile—the one that says, Maybe we shouldn’t be laughing at this but we’re doing it anyway and what a relief to feel such joy in the middle of this huge mound of deep darkness.
I loved your story! Love you and everyone of your family. And thinking of you all day and night.
Thanks, Aunt Linda. We are all pros at those mischievious smiles aren’t we… Love you. xo