I distributed my dead brother Dave's cremated remains this past weekend. Half of his ashes went to the cemetery, where I spread a thin layer over the family plot, like I did with Mom. The other half joined the rest of Mom and Dad's ashes in my back garden.
I dug a hole in the garden, and then poured his remaining dust in the hole, and then spat in the hole once for every girlfriend he abused. Then I covered him up with dirt.
What I should have done was figure things out sooner. The wife he married after a two week courtship got to know him well enough to file a restraining order six months later ... but he said she was crazy. He said the next one beat him, not the other way around. He said the one after that wanted to be spit on and slapped. With the next one he went to jail for spitting and slapping -- even though, he complained, he 'd never hit a woman with a closed fist, because that was abuse, and I realized he was just making up a new excuse every time.
All I could do after that was point out the consequences after he'd been jailed for domestic abuse, like when the nursing agency suddenly switched nurses, or when security threw him off the hospital property for yelling at a receptionist. He never got close enough to his last girlfriend to get to the violent stage before they split up, but I was going to warn her.
So he got two little memorial services from me. One at the graveyard, where I was a sister, and then one in my backyard, where I was a woman, and a human being. And even now, I wonder just a little if maybe his wife was crazy, the next girlfriend did beat him, the next one wanted it, and that the police were forced to arrest someone.
It doesn't matter if I'm a bad sister or if I'm a bad woman instead, but I hope I know better in the next life.