This photo is a replica of the one used at her funeral service. My dad has one in his bedroom. The heart-shaped box contains some of her ashes, and Sunshine’s ashes are in a container behind this photo.
The green hummingbird holds a lot of symbolism. My mother identified it as my sister’s totem, the ability to adjust, move in any direction, travel great distances, be a warrior, and travel to dream worlds when necessary.
This time last year I woke up to the text that Mom had died in the night, and I spent the morning in grief, shock, and relief, staring out my bedroom window to the backyard, which was suddenly alive with hummingbirds.
The orange cat belonged to my Mom, she bought it to symbolize her childhood cat, Tiger, and it was one of her favourite trinkets.
The brown bird I asked to have, it was a constant presence in my childhood and is included in my earliest memories of my mother, when it was just the two of us, most of the day, while Dad was at work.
The abalone shells are a rare find out here on the coast. While they can be purchased online from farms, finding one in the wild are rare. These are two of the three I’ve found wild. The rainbow shimmer of the abalone shell symbolizes communion with the afterlife, and is traditionally the shell if choice for smudging and cleansing ceremonies. The third shell, I use for this purpose.
Finally, within the smallest shell, are two herkimer diamonds. My friend Candis gave them to me a few years ago, after finding them in a remote river in the Kootenay mountains. I was surprised that diamonds could just be found laying around, and that these diamonds, herkimers, are not considered to be valuable in the way that our engagement ring diamonds are.
To me, the diamonds symbolize what you choose to believe, how to hold the complicated memories of the past. What you decide is precious, so often, is simply what we declare to be so.
Love you, Mom.