Tuesday, October 17, 2006


At about 4pm on Friday, October 13, 2006, I completed a promise I made years ago. My late husband, Lance, asked me to promise that I would eventually spread his ashes at the Headwaters of the Mississippi. He asked me to do this upon numerous occasions, and, of course, I agreed. I never imagined that it would take seven and a half years after his death, or that I would perform this task with the help of a new husband.

It was incredibly windy in Minnesota the day we made this journey. It had snowed the days prior to our arrival, and a little of the icy stuff was still on the ground this day. Did I mention that it was windy??? It was WINDY! The wind cut through clothing as though it were not even there. I don't recall ever being so cold.

There was a young family with two little boys at the site shown above when we first reached the headwaters, so we waited until they were out of sight before getting down to business. I had wrestled these last weeks with what to say or do that would feel meaningful when I sent him on his final earthly journey. I met with my minister several times, discussed it with my therapist and close friends, and thought I knew what I was going to do. In the end, I just knelt down at the water's edge, and gently opened the bag. I took a deep breath, cleared my head of distracting thoughts, and began to slowly allow the powdery ash to enter the clear waters. All I said in the end is "Godspeed". It seemed to fit. According to information at the visitor's center, it takes a drop of water approximately 90 days to travel from this location to the Gulf of Mexico, so I figure that by around mid-January, Lance Winger Peterson, 1954-1999, will be on his way into the warmer waters of the Gulf and then on out into the wider world.

The site is beautiful, peaceful, and feels as though it is a very spiritual place, which is only appropriate. I don't think Lance had ever visited here personally, and I don't recall why he wanted to be laid to rest here. However, having now experienced this place for myself, I know I will be back -- not to visit 'him', but to commune with the universe, as hippie-like as that sounds.

Prior to arriving at Lake Itasca State Park, I saw a multitude of deer along the way, and, much to my surprise, ELK! After spreading the ashes, though, I caught sight of a Bald Eagle, resting atop a tree, and, just as we drove by, lifting off in flight. Color me superstitious, but I found that significant. In Native American lore, the Eagle symbolizes strength, power and is considered to be the closest being to the Creator. According to the information I found here:

The Eagle feather, which represents duality, tells the story of life. It tells of the many dualities that exist in life, such as light and dark, male and female, substance and shadow, summer and winter, peace and war, life and death. It reminds us of the teachings that Opposites are extensions of themselves like two opposing hands of the same body.

That makes sense to me, and is very fitting.

Having executed my final act of love for my late husband, I feel a sense of peace and personal satisfaction. There were times when I wondered if I would ever be able to travel to a place so far from where I live and do the thing that he would never know whether I ever did or not. I'm glad I had the strength not to just let this slide.

In closing, I do want to say how important it was to have my precious husband, RunawayImagination, with me throughout this event. He has never been anything other than supportive of me and has been able to somehow maintain his own objectivity throughout. He has never indicated, even when asked point blank, that he had any feelings of jealousy or irritation when Lance was spoken of. Though he knows how very much I loved my Lance, he also knows how much more I love him, because of my previous wonderful relationship. I am very grateful to him for all that he is, and, when the time comes for him to perform this task for his late wife, he will know that it can be survived and that I will support him in the same ways he's supported me. He's a good man, y'all. They don't come any better. That means I've been amazingly lucky twice in one lifetime.


cathy said...

wip, you have certainly been a lucky woman...To have fallen in love twice and been able to have both men, is just a beautiful thing. You are a beautiful person and you deserve good things.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad for you that you were able to honor your promise and can feel peace of mind about having done so.

guinnessgirl said...

Oh, WIP, this was such a sweet post - it got me a little teary. I'm really proud of you. And of RunawayImagination. Godspeed to you, too, my friend.

neuroticillinifan said...


So glad to know that this was a good (oh, that's not the right word, but I can't quite find the right word here) experience for you. You are indeed blessed to have found the love of two such special men in your lifetime. Hope the rest of your trip also goes well.


QualicumRN said...

Ok....I am crying here....thank you so much for sharing this with us. What a moment for you. I am sure Lance is smiling at you and saying thank you. As for your new husbanc what a wonderful warm and caring man he must be to be able to understand or at least be patient enough to be able to go throught this with you.

I am glad this part of your life's journey has come to an end and you can turn the page and look to your wonderful future.

God Bless my friend