The villagers are clad in black today. I grip Stu's small, trembling hand as we listen to Carter speak.
"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for You are with me..."
I bow my head, staring at the ground. The tears have started up again, but they aren't as heavy as before. They are my final tears, the tears of acceptance. I know my grandma lived a peaceful life, and she died happily. I still feel an emptiness in that I will never see her again in this life, but I rejoice in knowing she will be waiting for me.
"Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows..."
Tim has his arm around me. I know he can feel this loss too, he was also close with Ellen. Everyone was. Stu stands staring straight ahead of him, his eyes misty, but he is trying to keep from crying. He doesn't want his friends to see.
"Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
Pastor Carter closes his Bible. He nods his head, signaling that we should begin to pass by the coffin, offering our last regards. I walk slowly behind Tim, holding a flower close to my heart.
I watch as the other villagers go by, many whispering quietly as they pass, others nodding respectively. Finally we reach it, too. Tim quotes a verse and touches the box delicately. I move up to it after he walks past. I stand for a moment, the others allow me to take my time. Finally, smiling, I whisper, "Thank you for everything, grandma... I love you." I set the flower atop her coffin. I move on.
I think this is what she would have wanted. A quiet and calm day for her funeral. As the people finish walking by the coffin, we gather near again, and the pastor begins to pray. I cannot help looking at the flower I have placed on her coffin. It is now a bit withered, but it is still undoubtedly beautiful. Its white petals wave gently in the breeze. Perhaps it is considered a horrible omen by some, or a symbol of death. I still do not believe that, but neither do I consider it a coincidence.
Rather, I believe it to be a tribute to life. A reminder of the impact one has had on others— the impact my grandmother had on me. It is a symbol of purity, faith, and endurance. It shows that while life may be only a fleeting moment in time, it is precious, a blessing to others. It is a token of thanks and celebration of life. Her life.
And in that way, death is beautiful.