June 1, 2011

Cold Water

We walk along the trail at a leisurely place. The winding path is dusty in most places and wet in some places, mostly down near the creek that moves rapidly over boulders and the roots of swollen palm trees. Jagged rocks tower over the north side of the gorge. They take the oppressive heat in stride and have an air of intimidation about them, as if they are keeping watch over the miraculous water that helped form their very existence. A dry, mountainous desert borders the south side and seems to go on forever, ridge after tiresome ridge. Lizards run over rocks and around trees and seem to be anxious about everything. This is Indian territory and we tread solemnly, with regard for the sacred land. A half mile in, we find a nice smooth rock near the edge of the creek and take our shoes and socks off. Sitting down, I wrap my arms around my knees and dip my feet into the cold, cold water.

I can already feel my daughter, running over my toes and around my ankles.

Looking back, I don’t think there was ever much of a choice about what we would do with Margot’s little body. A casket and burial seemed like too much in those early hours after her death, as we held her in a state of shock. It felt like too many details and too unnatural, her body slowly decomposing away in a sealed casket underneath the ground somewhere in a city that we have just started calling home. Besides, what if we moved one day? How would we access her then? Instead, we opted for cremation. We wanted to spread her ashes into the earth.

We placed most of her ashes into a seasonal creek that runs out of the rocky and formidable San Gabriel Mountains. Once out of the foothills, the creek joins forces with the LA River and eventually makes it’s way out to the Pacific, the largest puzzle piece our earth possesses, connecting continents and bodies of water to one another. I didn’t know how important this one act would be until I started sensing Margot’s presence every time I entered into the ocean or river or stream, as if her ashes multiplied a million times over to cover every body of water I find myself in.

I slide my feet deeper into the water until the coldness hits my knees, the hair on my calves swooshing back and forth in unison. Margot rolls past, over and over until I lose myself in the symbolic water. I want to tear off my shirt and submerge my whole body under the surface. I want to swim with her, downstream, as far as she will take me.

I wearily immerse my hands into the water and collect as much of her in my cupped hands as possible. I miss you, I whisper, and then bring the water up to my face and let it wash over me.


Anonymous said...

I never met her, or you, but I miss her too and think of her and your family daily. Praying for you and hoping my daily thoughtsand prayers make your day even one percent easier.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful; absolutely beautiful.

Jess said...

I cannot read your blog fast enough. Thank you for continuing to take us on your journey with you. Grace and peace to you, Kari, and Stella.

Mariposa said...

Yes! Jess said it....thanks for sharing your incredible journey! It's an amazing blessing...it feels like somehow you are teaching us that no matter what dreadful things anyone of us might encounter, that somehow there will be a way to get thru it. Your honesty with your feelings is a lesson in itself. Thank you!

Anonymous said...


I hope this link resonates with the journey of loosing a child.

Hope's Mama said...

I question our decision to bury all the time. But I've come to realise, I can't second guess any of the choices we made in those very early days. Both decisions were incomprehensible to us, so we just did the best we could at the time. We love where she is buried, yet we don't go often.
It sounds like the place you let Margot go is absolutely beautiful, and perfect for your own circumstances.
This post took my breath away.

brianna said...

I wish I could say something more profound than I think this is a very beautifully written post. We haven't given up George's ashes yet. They still sit on my dresser in a little brass box but I want to one day give them a home that is more fitting than a dusty dresser.

It appears that our families share a small patch of Los Angeles. We live in Mt. Washington and I find myself in Pasadena every Saturday to see my grief counselor. We hike in those same mountains you mentioned. Next time we are there I will reach into that water and give my love to your daughter.

Beck said...

This writing takes my breath away.

admin said...

Such a moving and beautiful post. Thank you for sharing your gift of words, and for bringing healing and hope through Margot's story. Blessings

Josh Jackson said...

Thanks for the comments; your kindness and prayers and links are so appreciated.

Sally - I agree wholeheartedly with what you said. There are so many decisions we had to make in those horrific few hours after Margot died and there are a few I wonder about. But we have come to the same conclusion; we did our best under the circumstances. And that's all we can do, right?

Brianna - I'm so sorry for the loss of your George. Every time I come across a new story of baby loss, I feel devastated. I've rolled through your blog for a few days now, catching up on your story. You write so beautifully about him and your situation. It's nice to know someone from LA as well. If you ever want to chat or get together, please let me know.


nuf said...

Josh, Thank you for sharing all of this here. We think about you and Kari all the time. I saw this today and after reading your post, thought i needed to share this link with you. a good friend of ours, Dan.


peace, jen

Gwen Jackson said...

Beautifully written Josh. Love you!

Josh Jackson said...


Thanks for the note and the link. We watched the video several times to let it sink in. Beautiful directing and lyrics.


brianna said...

Hi Josh and Kari,

Thank you both for stopping by my blog and for the information about the MISS group in the area. We have been thinking about trying to find a support group for a few months now. I think connecting with other people who have gone through similar heartache is really important.

Mel & Co. said...

oh i can just see this and feel it. hugsxoxo. loving you guys everyday. mel

Anonymous said...

I loose myself in your words each time I read a post. A single tear always runs down my face as I try to put myself in your shoes that night in the hospital. Your experience makes me hold onto my only daughter tighter each day. God send you strength as you move through this journey of life. Ebbs and tides, ebbs and tides.

Anonymous said...


Yes, I find it still easing my own pain, when I read your blog. Amazingly, you opened an old remembrance I have left and not shared....with but a few.

We too, found the idea of burying our little Geri Ann somehow uneasy. I am happy to say that she like your Margot June "washes" me...it is a bit uncanny, since not too many knew what/where we spread her ashes; that we chose a very similar and fitting send-off. We are talking a span of a life-time, Geri Ann would have been 30 years old this year....and still we in a different dimension of time have experienced a "spirit of oneness".
Here is a link to where we said our goodbyes to her body...

As you and your family continue this journey of grief, the holes in your heart will continue to mend, but the scars that remain will continue to remind you how precious life really is. May God pour His strength and love on you as He always has for us.

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