My grandmother has been dead for several years. She left her body behind, heart still beating, but she was gone. No going back. My aunt took care of her shell faithfully, with love and care, but that is gone now, too, and we are going to bury her.
I am at a youth group retreat. I change in the bathroom, pulling on a black skirt and teal sweater, pushing my jeans into a plastic bag that I carry out to the parking lot, where my parents pick me up. We drive toward the funeral home, quiet but not sad, relieved that it is finally over. She would not have wanted to live as she was.
The service is solemn but not melancholy. Light streams through the stained-glass windows of the church, which is dimly lit and chilly. I have always thought this church feels like a tomb. I am glad we do not come here much.
The burial ends quickly, and we drive home, quiet and pensive, remembering her as she was. Not the motionless being hunched in a wheelchair, head drooping onto her chest, but the smiling woman with the black-rimmed glasses and halo of gorgeous white hair who laughed and sang and cooked and lived all those years ago.