A steely gray sky reaches over our heads. The forest pushes up against manicured lawns, moss and dead branches at odds with tidy headstones and memorials in various states of weathered quiescence.

Inside the funeral home, my grandmother’s other descendants eat tidy sandwiches and chat together over coffee and tea. The service is over, and there is nothing but the obligatory catch up before the journeys back to Washington State or Vancouver Island. It is busy and incomprehensible to me, but my mother seems happy, so I leave her there.

Outside, my father, my brother and I stand together, watching a grungy yellow front-end loader finish interring my grandmother’s body. The ceremony is over, but the act isn’t. We are here to witness the end.

My father in his herringbone all-purpose jacket, my brother in a jacquard sweater, and me in my kilt. We stand in a row and I reach for their hands as the machine grunts and snarls and rattles, pouring dirt onto the box that contains all that is left on this earth of my grandmother. We three will see the act done. We will see it through.

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