Rest in Peace

Today was Arvin's green burial. It was a small family occasion at Greenacres Memorial Park. We began inside the chapel where the funeral director, Brian Flowers (yes, that is his real name, from birth), talked about the purpose and meaning of a green burial. He was very articulate and what he said was moving. In the background David Feingold was playing classical guitar. He and Arvin were two of the original members of the Northwest Classical Guitar Society. While David played we all placed flowers on Arvin's shroud until he was covered in beautiful spring flowers. Then the four pall bearers, Helena, Lynda, my brother Steve and nephew Emmett, walked beside the cart as Brian lead us on a walk to the gravesite.

When we arrived the pall bearers placed Arvin on a platform and Sheva began the service. She was so great. She knew Arvin from working at Siverado and is a neighbor and friend of Helena. So it was a family friend who told us all about Arvin and about the meaning of some of the Jewish prayers and burial customs.

Then Lynda read her poem, the one I blipped a few days ago. And Helena read the Rumi poem I also blipped. I didn't know if I would speak or not but I was moved to do so, so I let Sheva know and when Helena was finished I spoke of my deep love for Arvin. He is my soul mate and best friend. And I told them that the last words I understood of his were his affirmation of love for me and for his family and friends. Then Sheva said the Mourner's Kaddish in English and Janine said the same thing in Hebrew, with Marla taking the part of the people. During Sheva's English version we all took that part.

A few more words from Sheva and it was time for the pall bearers to lower Arvin into the shallow grave. It was prepared with wood chips to provide oxygen to help Arvin return to the earth. I then shoveled the first shovel full, actually several, of more wood chips on top of him. Then Helena and Lynda shoveled and finally anybody who wanted to could add to the pile. When the wood chips were gone we started on a large pile of dirt. My favorite shoveling moment was when my great niece and nephew shoveled and then threw more dirt on with their hands. 

We filled the grave almost to the top and then walked back to the chapel. On the way there was a washing station where we could wash our hands, part of the Jewish tradition and a good idea for people who have just been shoveling a bunch of dirt.

A few folks went on their way and the rest of us headed to Giuseppi's for a celebratory dinner and a walk along the water. It was a beautiful service and a day full of love. My most emotional moments were when I first saw Arvin in the shroud. (I walked to him and placed my hand on his chest. This calmed me down.) And when I spoke. Otherwise I was happy to be in the company of my family and friends and to see Arvin buried in such a beautiful and loving way. My heart is full of love for him and for all of our family and friends.

This was a small family occasion but we are planning a bigger gathering of friends and acquaintances on June 25th in the afternoon at the Moles chapel in Bellingham. When the time gets closer I'll post more information. I hope some of you will be able to come.

Here is some more information about green burial.

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