Monday, August 6

celebration of life*

jon-erik & carsten (boho boy), canon digital rebel xti

I've been wanting to share for a while now about the most meaningful part of our trip out to Canada last month.

Leonard's wake.

The family together decided that we wanted it to be quiet and intimate. Just the four of us. Birgit, Jon-Erik, Carsten (boho boy) and me.

The weather couldn't have been more perfect. The days prior were so hot and humid and when we woke up to a cool, crisp, clear day, I felt the divine timing of it all.

Leonard didn't want a funeral. He wanted a celebration. Nothing depressing, dark or sad. So that is what we gave him. The party the day prior was full of laughter and fun. This particular day was quiet...but magical.

As we were all headed to the dock, the boys picked up their canoe, put it up on their shoulders and walked it over to the water. I walked behind them, getting permission to capture it all with my camera so I can make a photojournal for mom.

Before the boys got in the water, we all gathered on the dock and prepared the ashes in a beautiful ceramic container. Jon-Erik lit a bundle of sage to begin the ceremony.

mom kroon & jon-erik, canon digital rebel xti

Usually there are boats that travel by but this morning it was so quiet and serene. I could hear the soft whisper of the wind and my heart felt warm, full..and at peace. We watched mom pour some of the ashes in the water from the dock. She then held onto the bundle of sage while the boys paddled out into the water.

Her and I sat there in silence watching their strokes. In fluid motion, the brothers went out far enough away so that they were in the middle of the lake.

Carsten slowly poured out the ashes while Jon-Erik paddled. It was quiet. Beautiful. Magical. I felt Leonard with us, dancing around us in the wind. This was his land, his waters, his family and now it will forever be a part of him.

As the boys came back up on the dock, Jon-Erik cracked open a bottle of Leonard's favorite port wine. We toasted to Leonard as father, husband, friend.

Then we all sat gathered together and they told me stories. Wild, funny stories about this amazing man that emulated the character of Indiana Jones.

It filled me with pure, crazy joy to see them laughing so heartily...

a mother & son sandwich

me & the adorable boho boys. jon-erik bought these matching shirts
for them which i thought was so fun...and totally hippy. ; )

What a beautiful ceremony. Something I will cherish deeply. It just made me feel even closer to him, not further away.

I shared this with you not only because it was a life altering experience for me but also to comfort those that have lost loved ones. We can celebrate their life with lightness, joy and creativity. Perhaps having your own special ceremony would bring comfort and closeness as Leonard's wake did for us.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

*sigh* I don't know what to write to you. It's just so beautiful and comforting in a way.

And those surroundings just take my breath away!


August 6, 2007 at 3:43:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Toni M Photography said...

*hugs* to you all, my sweet,

Love Toni xoxoxo

August 6, 2007 at 5:03:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Brandi Reynolds said...

you told this story beautifully-and brought tears to my eyes! And boho boy's mom looks just as sassy as she did in that picture of her with him as a toddler on her back

-blue green dragonfly (formerly omgirly)

August 6, 2007 at 5:42:00 AM PDT  
Blogger BrianC said...

My mother-in-law died suddenly on June 20th. Thankfully, she left behind detailed instructions about everything. (She even left behind a "you have my permission to put down the cat"; we won't be doing that.) She loved to travel and usually visited Maui twice a year, but always felt guilty that she was going and we weren't. In her instructions she ordered us to take the family to Maui and sprinkle her ashes in Kapalua Bay. I hope the ceremony will be as beautiful as your family's experience.

August 6, 2007 at 6:19:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that was fabulous -- it has given me a totally fresh and magical experience of what this otherwise scary experience can be for those of us left behind...thank you...

August 6, 2007 at 6:35:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so beautiful. thanks for sharing

August 6, 2007 at 6:48:00 AM PDT  
Blogger madelyn said...

What wil survive us is love and
he was incredibly loved -
and this is what i hear in your words and
see in your photo's of the wake -
I loved the mother and son sandwich;)

thankyou for sharing this intimate
and loving celebration of...love.

August 6, 2007 at 8:52:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Lianne said...

It is a powerful thing to create ritual that is perfect for the moment and perfect for the people. Blessings to you and your beautiful people.

August 6, 2007 at 9:11:00 AM PDT  
Blogger BrianC said...

Given these events, you might find my Friday post interesting. It's on my grandfather's habit/hobby for exploring cemeteries.

August 6, 2007 at 9:46:00 AM PDT  
Blogger BrianC said...

D'oh! It would be easier if I left a direct link:


August 6, 2007 at 9:48:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


August 6, 2007 at 10:30:00 AM PDT  
Blogger mames said...

i feel like crying and laughing at the same time. your photos captured the peace inherit in the way you honored what sounds like an amazing man, husband and father. my heart and hopes go out to you and your very special family. smiles.

August 6, 2007 at 11:59:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Wayfarer Scientista said...

I love it. This is the way we say good bye and comfort each other at the same time. The ritual of saying goodbye, of sharing what you knew a person to be and hearing what another remembers, this brings us comfort. I am glad you were able to do it so well.

August 6, 2007 at 12:36:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Susannah Conway said...

that was beautiful love - both what happened at the ceremony and how you documented it, so tenderly. i fin dit al incredibly touching xx

(ps. the boys looked great in their shirts. Leonard leaves behind him two very handsome sons. You just know he'll be proud of how they'll look out for their mum)

August 6, 2007 at 12:47:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Stefania said...

That mother and son sandwich photograph is AMAZING. It brough tears to my eyes. You are trully a gifted photographer that can capture true meaning and feeling in your photographs. Thank you for sharing.

August 6, 2007 at 1:28:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Marc said...

Beautiful post. Thank you. The canoe looks so relaxing and wonderful.

The ceremony sounds absolutely beautiful! How wonderful!

Love the color scheme on the last picture there. I've....seen it somewhere before. I'm sure of it. ?????


August 6, 2007 at 8:31:00 PM PDT  
Blogger WindyLindy said...

Passing to the great beyond through the people that love us is magic and right.

Thank you for sharing

August 6, 2007 at 10:13:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are so so grounded by and with loved ones. A fortunate life, one to cherish.
Beautiful, so beautiful.

August 7, 2007 at 12:57:00 AM PDT  
Blogger kelly barton art + design said...

thank you for this little gift today. beautiful

August 7, 2007 at 7:36:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Kirsten Michelle said...

you already know how i feel about this post ;-)...but i wanted you to know that the photos you took, of your boy and his brother in the canoe, absolutely took my breath away...it's as though heaven and earth were one for that moment in time.

August 7, 2007 at 1:22:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello All...thank you for participating in the family ceremony here on the Great Lakes. Paying homage to ones parents is the greatest of love stories...peace and respect to all who have lost a loved one, into the mysterious time line...OUR PARENTS ARE IN FACT LIVING BOOKS. J-E....I love you .... my family!!!!!

August 7, 2007 at 7:18:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh honey, this brings both tears to my eyes and a smile to my lips; I am so so so glad that you were all together in this way and were able to have a proper and beautiful ceremony in the way in which C's dear father would have wanted it. Beautiful on so many levels and thank you for sharing it with us.

lots of love.xoxox

August 8, 2007 at 8:19:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Mindy said...

your entire family exudes such serinity, presence, and love. thank you for sharing such an intimate and special moment. simply beautiful.

August 8, 2007 at 12:27:00 PM PDT  
Blogger jenica said...

this was such a jubilent post for me. when my grandpa died in february we all gathered together the night before his funeral and told stories about him.

my grandfather was like fine wine. he grew to be such a tremendous person despite having a wild and bitter youth. having that time as a family to talk things out helped air out the bad things and truly cultivated peaceful happy feelings about the great man he had become.

i love how peaceful your photos are. every one of them. i especially love the mother and son sandwich... bliss.

August 10, 2007 at 10:11:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Stacy said...

so so beautiful and comforting honey.

August 12, 2007 at 9:45:00 AM PDT  

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