For most of September, I have been on an unexpected hiatus. I needed time to finalize plans for my mother’s service, pull my thoughts and words together for a eulogy, and spend time with my visiting family.
I debated how to approach my next post as I have focused (understandably so) on Gretchen’s passing. I felt like I should not write a third consecutive story on mom. But two thoughts kept returning. I wanted to share my new knowledge on this wonderful resting place named Neptune Memorial Reef and I realized I could do that primarily through photos.
The artificial reef is located off of Key Biscayne, Florida and is owned and still under development by Dignity Memorial. The plan is to expand the site to 16 acres. It is inspired by The Lost City of Atlantis. Those who choose cremation opt for their remains to be deployed to the Reef; by literally becoming a part of it. The plan includes space for 250,000 individuals. Families can also choose to scatter ashes over the reef which we selected. Here are some Dignity Memorial staff photos:
It was an experience of a lifetime. A combination of twelve family members and friends gathered in Key Biscayne to board a dive boat (which holds 30) and drive 3 miles out. We were unsure what that would look like, but were a little relieved when we could still see the Miami skyline.
The waves were only running two feet and the sun shone brightly on the water. Pedro was our Dignity liaison. He was kind, patient and an experienced diver who left the boat for 20 minutes to attach mom’s plaque to the reef and take photos of its placement.
I hold many meaningful memories from the day, and I will share one. When my sister and I stood at the back of the boat to scatter our mother’s ashes, three pink Moon jellyfish suddenly floated to the top, as if to receive her. Since her small plaque read “The Colors of the Sea Are Now A Part Of Me” it simply could not have been better choreographed. It was beautiful.
While we spoke above the water, we had no idea what it looked like underneath. It was a few days until we received the underwater photos confirming what we had hoped. It is a special final resting place. In addition, we’ve learned that reefs are so helpful in breaking up wave energy from strong storms, protecting the coastline, and they create healthy ecosystems. We know our mother would appreciate being a part of all of that as well as being surrounded by its underwater beauty. It was the right decision and we know she is at peace.