Yesterday I released the last of Mike’s ashes on a mountain top in Chiang Mai. I had already scattered most of them after the funeral but saved a small handful… For what, I was yet to discover. I had faith I would find a good reason eventually. And this was it. To say these past two years have been challenging is a major understatement at the very least. I’ve faced a lot of personal demons head on and fought inner battles of epic proportions. It only felt fitting that the spot I chose was the highest mountain in Thailand. Nothing seemed more perfect than going into the new year (just snuck in on the last day of January) by saying a final goodbye, truly planting my feet into my new life I have worked so hard on creating.
I’ve always felt a lot of guilt at moving on. It’s always put me in a strange place of working with every last strength I have to build something I can call my own and feeling bad that the more I change, the further away from Mike I would feel… Thus partly trying to sabotage myself in the process. Of course deep down I know that it would make him ecstatic to see me getting back out there and finally becoming the person he knew me to be, just in public and operating at 100%. So it’s taken a while but I felt like it was a really good time to accept all that has come into my life, and move forward wholeheartedly by taking that metaphorical leap.
So the idea was to stand on this mountain top, release the ashes into the earth below and not only reflect on the past as I move forward, but give thanks to Mike and mother earth, paying my last respects for all these gifts I have received. The reality? There was a lookout… Sorta. But mostly it was a sign that said “Highest Point in Thailand” and a walkway that snaked around and ended up in a gift shop and back to the car park. Don’t get me wrong. The place was freakin’ beautiful. And there were shrines and ahh… so green! But nothing felt right.
In the end, I decided that this was a reminder of life not exactly going to plan. And what I’ve learnt over the years is that surroundings are really quite irrelevant. It’s what you make of it and feel in your very heart and soul. So I decided to let it go that it wasn’t going to be the way I imagined it and thought about how I would tailor it to be just as meaningful and significant as I wanted, and do it in my own somewhat messy and unusual way. Just like we always used to.
So rewinding back a little… I harp on a lot about my favourite patch of the day/night. I like to make the effort to get up really early, when it’s still dark. I love seeing the world from a more private view. That little slice of time you get when it feels like the rest of the world is asleep. When it feels like it’s just you and the universe… It’s what I live for. Those are the times you remember. And I do still remember the times I would wake Mike up in the dark of night to go do something crazy or just sit in the stillness.
Where was I heading with that? Well, the drawback of my timing and venue was that it is in the middle of the most touristy season in Chiang Mai, and it would most likely be packed. I decided instead that I wanted to go for sunrise, hoping there wouldn’t be as many people and I could have a little more privacy.
The other thing about this season, is that it is actually winter here. It means that the weather is rather mild and pleasant during the day instead of stinking hot, and that at night and in the mornings it can get a bit cold. But when you go to the highest point in Thailand, it is freeeeezing!
The weather started getting really hot and smoggy last week. The air was thick and uncomfortable. On the last day of mercury retrograde and the full moon, the rain started to fall. It ended up pouring for the next couple days. It felt like a massive cleansing of stagnant energy. I said that when the weather broke, that’s the time I would scatter the ashes. And so, the sudden onslaught of cold and rain stopped… I waited an extra day for good measure. It was lucky too because even though it was sunny again, at the mountain it had still been raining with thick fog. You couldn’t even see the sunrise. I started to doubt whether this was such a good idea after all, but in the end decided to go for it. I don’t really shy away from a challenge anyway.
So armed with blankets, pillows and two very awesome and willing counterparts, we set off at 4am. At about 5:30 in the morning, I felt a nudge from the taxi driver signifying we were at the entrance. I dopily got out to pay our entrance fees and we were off. The women selling woollen gloves at the base of the mountain foreshadowed how cold it was going to be. By the time we got to the lookout, it was a bustle of activity. The stalls were already selling hot coffee and soup. Everyone was rugged up, staking their spot to watch the sunrise. This wasn’t yet the highest point, but it was the best viewing platform to watch the sun greet the morning. We decided to forego the last ten minutes of the sunrise to get ahead of the crowd.
After hunting around for a while, I ended up going off track to find the right place. I ended up walking through all the trees, burning sage and scattering the ashes. I saved the last of his ashes to bury under a tree I was particularly drawn to. It wasn’t the grand gesture of releasing it down below, but it was perfect all the same. We weren’t even far from the walkway through the forest, but as soon as we got off the path, there was that little special patch of land and time, where everything fell into place and felt very still and peaceful. Exactly the way I wanted.
Afterwards we went to a waterfall as the weather warmed up. I went for the obligatory dip in the water to cleanse the remainder of the morning and release it back into the flow of life, feeling settled and peaceful. After baking in the sun, listening to our favourite band, we headed home. That night I had a drink in his honour. It was the most amazing day, and I’ve been blessed with so many lately as it is. I’m forever grateful for all these experiences, and this particular day will be a favourite of mine.