We have been saying since Ander died that his memorial service would take place in the summer, at K’s parents’ house on the lake, where we got married. It would be for family primarily, although local friends would be invited over for a champagne toast and dessert. We would set luminaries off the dock at dusk, watch them float for several hours before the candles burned out, and then collect them in the rowboat the next morning. We would display Ander’s memory box, and picture book, which has blank pages so people can leave him (and us) messages. We wouldn’t plan to say anything, except to thank our guests for remembering him with us, since the only people who got to meet him were us and our parents; we decided to bring his ashes, but not scatter them, as I’m not ready to let go yet.
Leading up to the memorial, I was still feeling hesitant. I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were doing this more for our families than for ourselves, that it was a little odd to have a memorial for a baby six months after his death, and invite people who never knew him. However, we did keep it low key, and it turned out being better than I expected.
More people came than I thought, and they were not shy about speaking of him. One lovely woman brought a bag full of adorable hats she knit for us to take to the NICU.
Another brought springs of lavender, for us, and to put on one of the floating luminaries. And those luminaries! I was skeptical when K made them (I was working; yes, on vacation!) and brought them outside:
They were made with wood shingles, dixie cups, thumbtacks and tea lights (I did help a little). Before people arrived, we set up the dessert table, with the pie my mother made, flowers from Ander’s garden (at my parents’ house), and his things:
As dusk fell on a perfect summer night, K gave a short speech to explain that we had 26 luminaries, one for each night of Ander’s life. We invited people to light a luminary and think of Ander as they set it off on the water.
They were beautiful. K and I watched for several hours as they bobbed over the still lake, mist rising as the air temperature dropped. Cars driving by slowed down to see them, and presumably, wonder. It was a clear night, and though Orion was too low in the sky (we call that “Ander’s constellation” since it was so bright overhead in January), I hope our boy was watching the glowing lights on earth as we remembered him together.