The next day Alivia’s mom parked the car in the churches parking lot and turned the key. The motor died down and everybody got out.
A part of Alivia didn’t want to go in, but the other side did, to say goodbye.
Across the lot, other family members showed up in their cars. Her aunts, uncles, and cousins she hadn’t seen in a while.
Alivia drew a deep breath in and let it out then tipped her head down.
Her mom patted Alivia on the shoulder. Fern stayed on her other side.
“Come on, you can do it. If I can you can.”
Alivia had no choice and walked up the stone steps and entered through the wooden doors.
To her left was a room with big wide swing wooden doors.
As Alivia’s mom and Fern talked with family members, Alivia walked over toward the slide doors. The gap was big enough to take a peek.
A darkness filled the room. A strip of light peered in where she stood. It shined off the top of the wooden smooth casket. It was closed for now. Grandpa always wanted a wooden casket. He told her that years ago, but she never liked to talk about it. Death and funeral homes aren’t her favorite subject.
Flowers set placed beside the casket along with a picture of Grandpa and the words “In loving Memory of Quinn Henry McGala.” It sat to the side, along with plants and flowers in big and small pots and vases. It became real to her for the first time, seeing the casket and all the flowers.
The lights turned on and the doors opened forcing Alivia to step back.
A woman in a nice black dress and shiny shoes stopped in front of her.
“Can I help you?”
All Alivia could do was shake her head.
“Oh I see, you’re the granddaughter that Quinn was close with.”
Alivia nodded, but no words came out.
“I’m so sorry for your loss.”
The lady walked pass Alivia.
The family walked into the room where Alivia was standing.
Sad music filled the room and a fruity smell scented the air.
Alivia, her mom, and sister sat in the front row. Including Alivia’s mom and her brother and sister. Lauretta set with her mom and as well did Skeeter.
The funeral director walked into the room and opened the casket.
Alivia caught a glimpse of Grandpa’s face.
Tears burst from her eyes and traced down her cheeks. She covered her mouth and tipped her head down.
Her mom wrapped both arms around her as Fern did too.
Family members got up to see Grandpa one last time, to say their goodbyes. They left a rose or even gave him a kiss on the head or hand.
Alivia looked at her mom and shook her head.
Her mom nodded then handed her a rose.
Her mom placed the rose in her hand.
Alivia stood up and walked the center of the steps that led to the casket. She held the red rose in her hand. Each second seemed to take forever. The closer she got, the harder it felt to breathe like the air was sucked right out of her.
Should she see him in the casket or walk away? Or behave like a seventeen-year-old?
Before she knew it, the open casket was right there. She never pictured Grandpa laying in a casket, let alone seeing it in real life.
Standing next to it, grandpa’s skin was pale and his hair whiter than usual. That person laying there wasn’t him anymore. Just a body, a lifeless cold, lonely body in a wooden box. The only thing that seemed like it was grandpa was his shirt and jeans he wore all the time.
Her grip came loose from the rose and it dropped to the floor.
Whisper’s filled the entire room from behind her.
Alivia took one step back away from the casket and turned around then ran down the aisle.
Her mom stood up and reached out toward her arm.
A couple of the family members stood up, talking back and forth.
Alivia ran out of the room. Before she reached the doors a pair of arms wrapped around her. Tears spilled out of her eyes and down her cheeks. She dropped to her knees and sobbed.
“Shh, it’s okay,” Fern whispered then moved her hair from her face. “You don’t have to run.”
A memory reminded Alivia of her and Grandpa making cookies in the kitchen. In her mind, pots and pans click together. Water ran from the faucet, flour on the floor and table. That was just last week when they were baking. But now she wouldn’t be at Grandpa’s making cookies with him anymore.
Once the memory faded, she tipped her head down and covered her eyes.
After the funeral, the family and the preacher arrived at the cemetery, the black hearse parked on the side of the path where cars drive through.
Alivia leaned to the window.
There were many different head stones. Some were brand new, some old and tipped over. Some were even lying flat on the ground.
Alivia, her mom, and Fern followed the family where grandpa would be buried.
Alivia never thought to see Grandpa in the ground. In a deep, dark, lonely hole. A place he should not be.
As the preacher spoke about Grandpa and the life he had lived, Alivia relived some of her own memories.
Flashbacks trailed through her mind one after another. Her and grandpa fishing together at the lake and catching fish. The splashing of the water played in the back of her mind, hers and Grandpa’s voices laughing and having a good time together. Watching him build bird houses in the shed behind the house; the sound of the saw cutting through wood and her laughter echoing through her mind. Cooking together in the kitchen from a young age through her teenage years. Grandpa reading a bedtime story before bed when she was little. It felt good to revisit those memories.
Lauretta touched her back and leaned her head against Alivia’s shoulder.
Tears released from her eyes and trailed down her cheeks.
When the preacher had finished speaking, the casket began to lower into the ground.
After saying their last goodbyes, family and friends left, but not everybody did. One person stayed behind to have her last moment.
She looked down at the flowers scattered across the top of the casket.
The sun peeked out from behind the drifting clouds to change the mood. A fresh scent remained in the air as a cool breeze coasted by her skin.
Alivia stood by the edge of the hole and pulled a picture out of her pocket. It was her and Grandpa fishing by the lake. There would be no more pictures of him. No more fishing together. No more ice cream for the summer hot days. No more bird houses being built in the shed.
Her eyes burned with tears and her throat sored.
She looked at the picture one last time, then held it over the hole and let it go. It floated down and rested on top of the casket next to a couple red roses, Grandpa’s favorite flower.
“I love you, Grandpa.”
Off in the distance, something small and white fluttered.
A single white feather drifted across the fresh-cut green grass. A gust of wind blew it over the edge of the hole. It floated down and landed on top of the casket right next to the picture she had dropped.
Alivia’s mom and Fern waited by the car.
She released a breath and walked pass other headstones and stopped beside her mom and sister.
Before leaving, Alivia looked over her shoulder at Grandpa’s headstone.