It was my cousin John Vincent Sciaba’s birthday last week; he would have been thirty- five. He had gone out hiking in early February, and disappeared; in March, his undisturbed body was found in the forest, where he had laid down to sleep under a tree.
This weekend, a small group of close family, including our ninety-year-old grandmother in a wheelchair, gathered at the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge in Biddeford, Maine and walked out to one of John’s favorite spots: Timber Point, a quiet protected island with nice flat trails, where the forest meets the ocean. There, from a rocky jetty, we scattered ashes and forsythia petals to the waves.
My aunt and uncle are amazingly strong, and in a showing of New England coastal fortitude, plus a health dose of Italian hospitality, they hosted us all for an informal lunch afterwards. A huge bouquet was displayed in the kitchen, sent by family on John’s birthday, with a note that read We remember and celebrate John on his birthday. Brilliant! The gesture was perfect, and the flowers were gorgeous.
No memorial service is complete without a feast, featuring multiple children running around the woods/ yard/ house and wreaking havoc, a fair amount of political discourse, and (of course!) a comforting soak in the hot tub.
Most everyone who was present roundly agreed: THIS is how I’d like to be celebrated, after I pass.