After the scattering Evan’s ashes formed a fine film on top of the pristine waters of Lake Marion. Microcurrents and eddies twisted the white and gray dust into whorls and spirals on the surface while bits of bone sank to the bottom creating a constellation of bright white stars in a field of turquoise and aquamarine.
I took off my clothes and hurled my naked body into the barely melted water of glaciers that had carved the southern fjordlands of New Zealand into existence. I screamed as every inch of my skin came into contact with the brutally cold water, and I felt deeply and fully aware of our sensational existence. Shivering and sputtering all the swear words I could muster, I crawled out of that lake on fire and alive. As the cold melted away and the southern sun warmed my back I couldn’t help but feel I had fulfilled a promise; to live a life that Evan would have respected. The kind where bones are broken, the marrow drunk. Where every dawn offers a renewed opportunity for a life of curiosity and adventure.
And so Evan, in ashes and spirit, slept on cliff tops carved by the whipping winds howling up from the southern seas, whose gales were so stiff that trees couldn’t bear the thought of growing up so instead grew horizontal. We kicked crampons into ice walls and climbed their faces to discover melted rivers carving ghostly blue caves into the glacial ice. We held our breath at dusk as the crunch of rainforest leaf litter heralded the nightly foray of a Kiwi just a few feet away. We climbed Mt. Doom and watched the steam rise from natural hot springs and listened to the burping slop of sulfurous mud pits bubbling away.
At my wedding Evan spoke of constellations. He talked about sailors finding their way home over the millennia. He reminisced about how we as kids looked to the sky to find meaning and scale. And he reflected about how both he and I had been lucky enough to find our own north stars in Ursula and Kristyna. Perhaps at the time and in his own way he knew how he would become a constellation for all of us. A collection of memories and moments that will forever burn so brightly that we need only to remember him to find our way when lost. A starry map we can look to when we need reminding of what it means to live a meaningful life. Though his ashes are scattered and returned to the universe, I will forever be grateful to have him as my copilot, my navigator, and my best friend.
- Oliver Hulland