The church bell tolled ninety-one times this afternoon as we brought her out to the cemetery. The wind swept like a brush through the grass and picked up bits of dust, carrying it far off over the cedars and live oaks. “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” I said and sprinkled the sand over her coffin. I drew the indentation of a cross and watched granules slip into the grave below. I stepped aside as we silently observed the flag folded and presented. She had been a Navy Nurse. The gun salute sounded. The trumpet haunted in echo.
I thought of my mother and my father, their bones resting so far away. I saw the man with the cane let his tears fall onto his jacket. We prayed an ancient prayer and headed back toward the church, still keeping watch over her dead all these years.