Written by Erin Santos, Isabella’s Mommy & President of The Isabella Santos Foundation
How do you make a decision on remains? How do you make a decision on a child’s remains? Questions like these are horrible and they are ones I never thought I would be making at the age of 35. The truth is, there is no right decision. I think that I made the decision based off what I wanted for myself. I had to think that when I’m gone, I’m gone. Light me up, put me in some box (hopefully a decent looking one), and take me to a beautiful place. Let the wind carry my ashes and scatter me somewhere I love. I don’t want to be put in a box in the ground and decay with the bugs. I especially don’t want to be put in some marble kitchen counter top looking apartment home for ashes. Creep. Out.
But when it’s your child, you just can’t do that.
There is no discussion with them on what their wishes are. Their only wish is not to die. They can’t grasp the concept that someone is doing something with you when you die. To them, people are just gone. Grant and Sophia still don’t really know what is going on behind that name plate when we visit her. Lots of questions like, “How did she get in there?” or “Who are all these people with her?” “How can they all fit in there?” Sophia still tries to peer into the holes and walks around it like it’s some magician’s table that has a trap door somewhere. Eventually we are going to have a horrible discussion with them on what actually happened. I don’t think it’s going to be pretty. I can’t imagine they are going to be comfortable with what we decided, and it may truthfully scare the shit out of them – or even worse – they’ll hate us for it.
I’m not really sure if we had another good option. I just could NOT pick out a casket. So much of that seems worse. Maybe it was all those years of watching Six Feet Under on HBO that wigged me out about the whole death process. Or those horror movies about people being buried alive. People have nightmares about that, right? Although I have to say that watching someone get burned alive on Game of Thrones makes me want to sob like a baby. Why did I do that to her?
Sometimes I miss her so much that I think about taking her box from the Calvary cemetery and hiding it in my house; just so I know she is here with us. I wouldn’t tell my family, it would be my little secret. Jesus, I sound like a nutcase. I really only thought about this once last Christmas, and I eventually would have put her back…I think.
By cremating her, I have lost the chance to ever lay with her. But really, what am I going to do? Bring a blanket and pillow out there? Do I think I’m going to bring a picnic lunch and sit out there on top of where she is? This is the really sick shit that goes through my mind sometimes! At least I would know that she was under me though. For some reason that brings me comfort.
I felt like I knew the right thing to do, so that is what we did…and now I regret it. Somehow I feel like if we chose the other path, we would have regretted that too. Point of the story is there is probably no right way to handle a child’s death. Her entire journey was a series of split second decisions you have to make and then deal with the repercussions of it your entire life.
I wish I could have been making other decisions like what color to paint my kitchen, or if I should check out that new Meryl Streep movie or wait till it comes out on RedBox. Instead, I’m in my 30s and deciding on how to ultimately end a child’s existence. That is some F’d up shit right there.