My alarm went off at 3:45AM but I didn’t need it. Months of waking up every two hours to check on Scott will not disappear overnight. A hotel car and driver was waiting for me when I got downstairs half an hour later, the plan being to pick up Elizabeth at her home enroute to Arambol beach in northern Goa. Elizabeth brought the candles. I brought one of two clay pots filled with Scott’s ashes. I wanted to see the sun rise over Scott’s favorite Goan beach.
When we arrived a pack of beach dogs embraced us. Often these wild stray canines can be aggressive and it’s a good idea to stay clear of them. Not this time. Welcomed into the pack, we were aware of their gentle presence…circling us silently, barking only when strangers dared approach our protected space. Guardians of the ceremony. Keepers of the light. I glanced down as one of them wiggled his body against my legs. Just like Loolie would, and also Hershey. Seeing this, Elizabeth laughed softly and lit the candles she had brought.
Scott was cremated the same day he died. His faithful nurse Afsal prepared Scott lovingly, dressing him in his finest kurta and linen pants purchased for our Commitment Ceremony. He was adorned with a mala that had been given to him by another couple we met on this trip.I tucked his favorite photo of me into his pocket with a private note written on the back before I gave my beloved one final kiss and took my leave for several hours while Scott’s body made one final journey, to the funeral home. Our friend Sanjiv and his oncologist Dr. Salkar were in attendance. Indian crematoriums are not impersonal furnaces. They had carefully laid Scott out on a pyre of wood and I’m told it is considered an honor to light the flint. Sanjiv was so honored. The two clay pots of ashes were delivered to me the next day. By 7:30AM today the first one was empty.