Sarah’s Birthday and Final Commitment

24/9/2019

Today would have been Sarah’s 55th birthday. Instead I find myself burying her ashes on a remote coral cay, North West Island. As emotional as the day is, I won’t say it is hard. I find a lot of peace in the location that I have found for Sarah’s final resting place.

Given the state of the tide we needed to move quickly in the morning, but not before coffee (Sarah just wouldn’t have allowed it). We were heading toward the island at around 0700 where we were greeted by the island Camp Coordinator. We had a civil conversation with her but didn’t want to mention our intentions unless she wanted to stop us. I wasn’t sure where to bury Sarah’s ashes but I had the idea the night before to be near the existing grave on the island. In turned out to be better than I thought as it had a view out towards the anchorage that we typically use when visiting the island.

After digging a hole and lining it with our RSYS burgee and the Wine-Dark Sea pennant, Sarah Devereux read a poem that Will Hardcastle had found.

Cloggau looking over proceedings

“The Ship

What is Dying?

I am standing on the seashore, a ship sails in the morning breeze and starts for the ocean. She is an object of beauty, and I stand watching her till at last she fades in the horizon, and someone at my side says “She is gone”

Gone.

Where?

Gone from my sight that is all. She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her, and just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination. The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not her, and just at the moment when someone at my side said “She is gone”, there are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up a glad shout “There she comes” and that is Dying.”

Following this I committed Sarah’s Ashes with these words and an offering of her favourite champagne, Ruinart Blanc de Blanc.

Sarah’s ashes wrapped in the Wine-Dark Sea pennant and RSYS burgee

“I hereby commit Sarah Jane Goddard-Jones’ ashes to North West Island. In doing so I lay her to rest in her most loved environment. Here she will lay for the rest of time surrounded by the sea, sun and sand she loved so much.

I lay her to rest with our Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron burgee that we voyaged with for many a year, including our 2017 odyssey to Darwin. Let it represent both the club she loved so much as well as our voyages together. These voyages also represent our relationship. A relationship filled with so many good times. Maybe more importantly though the bad times were short lived and somehow we still managed to find enjoyment through the rougher patches.

I also lay her to rest with our Wine-Dark Sea pennant. Let this represent the vessel we considered our child. Smudge and Noodles were my step-cats and I loved them as they were. I did not have a say in there presence though. They were already with Sarah. Wine-Dark Sea however was pure Sarah and I. We loved her as a child and I will continue to love her as our child for years to come.

I hereby commit Sarah Jane Goddard-Jones. Ashes to ashes. Sand to Sand. For eternity with the oceans to look over her”

The coral cairn marking Sarah’s resting place

I have left a note taped to a tree to mark her resting place. I will return with something more permanent in the future. There is a cairn of coral we have started. Anyone venturing past is welcome to add to it. My preference would be toward the deep red coral that you occasionally find that represents both Sarah’s Welsh roots and her love of the ocean. A beautiful shell from a beachcombing session would also be appropriate.

12 thoughts on “Sarah’s Birthday and Final Commitment

  1. RIP my friend.

    Pete, Sarah deserved you and you, without the slightest doubt, deserved her. I hope you felt in your heart all our love for both of you yesterday.

    It’s time for you now to find your new path quietly and as you could see these last months, you’ve got friends…

    Take care mon ami.

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    1. Thanks for sharing Pete.

      That Coral cay sounds like an idyllic resting place for Sarah’s soul/ spirit to spend the rest of eternity- well chosen! … and a beautiful, fitting poem. I hope you find some peace in her being laid to rest.

      Love from the other side of the world.

      Lorna xxx

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  2. Beautiful words. A perfect adieu.
    Thank you for sharing this emotional and special moment.
    I have tears from the love that is evident in your words. Xx

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  3. A beautiful place for Sarah to finish her journey surrounded by the things she loved most. You were in my thoughts on Wednesday and like alot of the last couple of months am happy that it went well, but sad that it had to happen.

    Like so many of her friends we would much rather be drinking champagne and dancing on the tables in true SGJ style with her to celebrate turning 55. Gone way too soon.

    Fair winds and safe travels for the trip home Wine Dark Sea. You are a beautiful child.

    Love Lindy

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  4. I had hoped that the journey back to Australia and the committal would bring an acceptance of Sarah’s death. It didn’t achieve that, but it gave me the quiet time to be able to come to understand two things:
    Firstly, it brought home to me how Sarah opened the door to me for so many of the things I enjoy today, including my love of sailing, preferably with blue skies and seas. Her final gift to me was a temporary lull in the powers of the Rain Goddess, which meant that our journey south from Mackay contained more blue sky than Pete had ever experienced on one of my visits.
    Secondly, I have come to understand that it doesn’t matter if I don’t ever fully accept that Sarah is dead, because she isn’t gone – the poem that Will found encapsulates this perfectly – Sarah is always with us, in our memories and our thoughts and the total loss of sight is in me, not her. Sarah is there, just out of sight, and probably with a unicorn.
    My love to you, Pete and I echo Sylvie’s word – time for you to find your new path and you know that you will always have friends across the world to support you on that journey

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