Our friend Jay died recently, as I noted in an earlier post HERE. Today we laid his ashes to rest in Lake Chapala.
The birds were in attendance,
the night heron and snowy egret,
coots and pelicans.
And his friends—
some in the boat, others
gathered on the shore
along with children—those reassurances
that life goes on.
We lifted a glass
and recalled the day he returned the sacrificial ollitas* to the lake,
the words of children sealed in their depths,
giving the lake back what was once hers,
and as if she listened, she swelled her skirts anew,
reclaiming those shores she had long abandoned.
He was Mexican by choice if not by birth,
and we returned him to her,
strewing him between flowers that floated in strings like ribbons
behind the boat.
The ollitas arcing, spilling him home.
His friend spreading the rest of him on the water’s surface
like a blessing and a reassurance
that we are never lost to the world we are a part of.
The birds, who know this, watched
as he was reborn to water, hyacinth and air.
Under a falling sun, we watched him swell his being,
the beginning of that journey to every shore
of this lake that he once gave back to and now
has given his all to.
Rest in peace, dear friend, lover, father, uncle, brother.
We share you with the world.
*Chapala was founded in 1538. The town may have taken its name from Chapalac, one of its earliest Indian chiefs. Or perhaps it came from the Nahuatl “Chapatla,” the “place where pots abound,” referring to the primitive local practice of appeasing the gods by throwing pots, spotted with blood from earlobes, into Lake Chapala. These little pots, called “ollitas” have washed up to the shores from the lake, especially during the years when the lake receded greatly. Years ago, Jay did a project where he had school children write messages which he rolled into tight cylinders, waterproofed and placed in ollitas that friends had found along the lake or purchased from locals. They then took them out in a boat and returned them to the lake. We took the remaining ollitas that we found in his house along with others contributed by friends and thought it was a fitting tribute to fill them with Jay’s ashes and return both him and the ollitas to the lake, along with the words sent to us by his friends and family.
Click on photos to enlarge.