Joseph C. Yeager, PhD, 74, of New Hope, Pennsylvania died on Saturday October 11, 2014. There was only one month from diagnosis to Dr. Yeager’s passing, but that was just the beginning of his journey. Some three years later, on August 4th, 2017, his ashes were sent aloft. According to Linda, Joe’s wife for over 35 years, it was “his journey to visit the stars.”
Long before Joe’s journey into the sky, he was a writer – authoring countless articles and books. He was a role model – to the host of men who grieved at his passing. He was remarkable – not only in words and deeds – but in his heart. There was never any denying how irreplaceable Joe was, and in his passing, his loved ones and community experienced a dramatic sense of loss.
For some time, Linda pondered how she would celebrate his life. She held his ashes at home in a sacred hand-picked urn, where she would often talk to him and always miss him. One day, a friend called her and told her about a segment she had seen on Jimmy Kimmel that she thought Linda would find funny. With a love for the irreverent, Linda and Joe were both always up for a good joke. When she saw the clip poking fun at Mesoloft and where the ashes could fall (like on a non-suspecting picnicking family!), she instantly thought, “Oh my God, this is what I want!” She went online to further explore what Mesoloft did, and how they did it, and thought about her own whys.
What Linda found most appealing about Mesoloft was when she was told it could take up to a year for all his ashes to come back down to earth – and that they would float down on snowflakes, cling to raindrops, settle on mountaintops and rest in valleys. She learned that they could go anywhere in the world.
“I wanted Joe to be free. I wanted him to fly on the wind. I wanted him to see everything beautiful in this world. I wanted him to be everywhere.”
So on a warm summer day in Bend, Oregon, Linda set off with her dear friend Juliette, to send Joe’s ashes into the stratosphere in a Mesoloft balloon. The Mesoloft team made thorough arrangements as to the exact time and place for the event. They accompanied Linda and Juliette to a vast and beautiful landscape where they organized their materials, respectfully handled the ashes, and prepared the balloon for its flight. They allowed Juliette to photograph the entire process. And when it came time for lift-off, the Mesoloft team ceremoniously called Linda over.
She was surprised at the strong pull of the wind as she firmly grasped the bar attached to the balloon that contained Joe’s ashes. She knew that both she, and Joe, were ready. Not ready to let go, but ready to release and remember. As she loosened her grasp, the current raced to cradle Joe’s remains and slowly, but firmly elevated him into the air. “Bon Voyage,” Linda yelled as she watched the balloon for 15 minutes, slowly growing smaller as it left her sight.
“I will never let go of Joe. He is in my soul forever. But in releasing him, I can set him free. I know he never wanted to be in the ground or in an urn. I could not contain him if I tried when he was alive, how could I possibly keep him contained now in his death?” Linda said lovingly.
While both Linda and Juliette anticipated that the launch might be sad, instead, they both found the experience freeing and fulfilling. “We got to send our beloved Joe off on the journey of his lifetime. If you believe your loved ones go to Heaven or they travel the celestial seas, there is not a better way to actually connect that belief, that feeling, with watching it happen in this way” said Juliette.
“In Japan,” Linda said, “when someone says goodbye to you, they wave until you’re out of sight. We were able to wave, and wave, and wave, until we couldn’t see the balloon anymore. We were able to take part of that journey with him, and that was priceless.”
In Joe’s final love letter to Linda, he closed it by saying, “I.Am.Everywhere.” And now, she knows he is.
Written by Juliette Faughnan
Posted with permission