Urn and Budda - Scatter Evan

It was late January 2013 – I don't recall the exact date. I was on the phone with a nephew when a call came from Evan in his room at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. He asked me to come so we could talk about the less than encouraging news that he’d just been given.  When I arrived, he told me that an unfamiliar member of the Sarcoma team explained that there was new tumor growth evident and he would have to undergo more chemo right away if he wanted to try to stop it. He did. He always did. He wanted to do whatever it would take for the possibility of a cure or simply extend life. But this visit was different. For the first and really only time throughout his illness, this doctor was emotional. Evan was really moved by it, already experienced for over a year with the disciplined and slightly callous demeanor of most cancer docs. The new guy explained his condition at the time, explained the new chemo option and explained that doing the protocol at all was potentially as dangerous as doing nothing. Though Evan said that he understood, the doctor persisted. “But we could lose you,” he said, tearing up. Evan was very touched by this rare show of medical humanity. He thought it was an extremely kind way to say, “this may well kill you.”

We all knew that he was fighting an uphill battle from the start but he never gave up hope. When death was suddenly looming as an impossible possibility and he described the teary doctor, I half jokingly asked what he wanted me to do with his body. “Not my body, my ashes,” he said. “Scatter me.” Even though he was fully confident that he yet could beat the odds, he indulged me this conversation, this plan. We only discussed it once – just that day and never again. I suggested that I could cast him off the Carrick-a-Rede Bridge in Ireland but he said no. He asked me to take him to Scotland. He and I had talked of a trip together to that land of the Vikings and peat. He had never been there and he wanted to go with me. If I would put him in a bog, he said, perhaps he could eventually be a part of someone’s Scotch. Though he was barely a drinker, sipping the occasional Scotch was one of his many happy pleasures.  

I was the only person to receive specific instructions. Other than me, he wanted Ursula, family members John, Jean and Alex and friends Jake, Oliver, Marc and Sam to make journeys. He asked that they take him to places they loved together or had wanted to go together or even just a place that Evan wanted to go but hadn’t made it to yet. They would know or we would know. He hoped they could take a trip that did as much for them as it would have meant to him. He wanted his death to afford them a meaningful memory and a personal way to say goodbye. He gave us the authority to arrange additional family and friend Scatter events as we saw fit, several involving overlapping groups. Surprisingly, he requested that a few friends not be included in any Scattering activities for reasons I will not outline here. Not easy to accept but in many ways he did it for them rather than against them.  

This website was created so we can share our experiences and gratitude with all of you who so generously contributed to making this final wish come true -for Evan and the people who loved him. Now we have accomplished the major trips and a small amount of Evan’s ashes remain with us still. Some have joined his cats and our flowers here at home and I have the odd suspicion that he will eventually make it to Thermopylae – one of his frequent and preposterous (though serious) childhood suggestions for a family vacation. Eventually (and soon in the universal sense – August 2016 in Cape Hatteras, NC) we will be completely done and ceremoniously burn together his beautiful wooden urn and the Buddha he had started carving in his illness.

Evan was just one person on this earth for a short while. He was here, he enjoyed his life immensely, he loved and was loved, he left with strength, grace and dignity. He made a mark. I can think of no better testament for any single person. In his own words: Rest in Peace, Rest in Pieces.  

– Susan Scofield