We may never pass this way again

The shovel blade bites into the earth, black with rain and rot. It tangles with roots and rocks. The sun slants across the rising mound of dirt. Mosquitoes hover like angels of death.

We wrap Jenna in her favorite towels that feature a smiling sun, a baseball team’s logo, a lobster at the beach. Lifting her from the carpet she seems heavy and stiff. I trudge up the hill, slipping in the mud. We bury her in a shallow grave, in this bowl-shaped depression at the edge of the woods, under the oak and pine, her head toward the east to meet the rising sun. Gently we cover her with topsoil, plant two trees at either end of the grave and cover the surface with mulch.

I use a stone I unearthed to mark the spot. The rock is about a foot-and-a-half long. It points skyward like a crooked finger. She went this way, it says.




In memoriam

My father died on August 13. As his ashes were buried, my brother read this passage from Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring:

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with weary feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.