A few days ago the phone rang just as I was settling into work. It was the very first call of the day and (as is often the case) the conversation was both inspiring and instructive. The woman at the other end of the line told me her name was Sarah, and then continued with her story.
She began with the essential fact: “My ex-husband died of colon cancer in 2015.” Sarah then got to the heart of the matter: “I think I’m finally ready to buy an urn and I’m leaning toward the Elegant White Heart Urn. But you have so many cremation urns to choose from–can you help me decide which one I should buy?”
This is a very common scenario here at Urn Garden; people come to us with questions–but with the questions usually comes a story.
I affirmed my ability to help and waited for her to ‘paint me a picture’ of what kind of man he was, who they were as a couple once upon a time, what happened to the marriage, and why the death of her ex-husband was so important to her.
“He was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer on Thanksgiving Day, 2012. Despite the severity of his condition–or maybe because of it–he chose to undergo surgery and chemotherapy. He spent two and a half years in and out of hospitals, infusion centers, and rehabilitation facilities–and I was with him every step of the way.”
Her voice thickened with emotion. “We’d been divorced for 13 years–just about as long as we were married. We weren’t a very happy couple but we had two wonderful sons, which meant we remained in one another lives ‘for the kids’. Yet, despite everything, here I was, walking this path with a man I’d known–but not necessarily always liked– for 30 years.”
She talked.and I listened, for about 45 minutes. By the end of that time, we had cried, laughed, and gotten closer to the task at hand. It was then my turn to ask a question:
“Why do you think a heart-shaped urn is appropriate for his ashes?”
Sarah grew quiet. “In his final six days at home, when I was with him day and night as his hospice caregiver, we had a chance to forgive one another; to find a comfortable kind of love together. Today, all these months later, Bob Marley’s words run through my mind: ‘one love, one heart, one destiny’. It’s that quality of sharing I’d like to commemorate with a heart urn.”
It took us only another 10 minutes or so to narrow down her selection. Yes, Sarah purchased the Elegant Purple Heart Urn.
“Why purple?” I asked her. “Well, for me, purple symbolizes the depth and mystery of the love we shared at the end. It’s not the bright red of a Valentine’s heart; it’s richer and stronger.”
I understood. For many, the Red Heart Urn is the perfect expression of love; but for Sarah, it was the deep purple which called to her. Before our conversation ended that morning, she had also selected a Purple Heart Glass Urn Pendant.
“This way,” she said before hanging up the phone, “I will be reminded of the strength and courage it took us to walk that hard road together. He could have chosen anyone to companion him; but he chose me. He knew we had work to do together to re-create our relationship there at the end. I guess that’s what I’m commemorating in selecting two heart-shaped urns. I will always be reminded of all I gained within the loss. I’m stronger, more resilient, and more appreciative of all we lived through. And appreciation is everything!”
Well said, Sarah.