The Rings

Almost everything about my funeral was perfect. My body rested, awaiting its captive audience, in the church hall over night. A Catholic tradition only afforded to true believers of the faith.

My entire family gathered and told stories of my better days. They remembered my contagious laughter, my love for them, and how I would cheat at cards to help my grandchildren win. They remembered the best parts of me, and my suffering fell into nothing.

I’d always loved flowers, and so there was no shortage of them that day. There were more flower heads in the church than there were people, but then, most of those I loved were waiting for me here.

My youngest grandchild had a great cross of lilac and white made. It included all my favourite scents and the muted, clean solemnity of white roses. I saw her grind her teeth when another bouquet arrived in the same colours. I saw the grit of anger that her thoughtful testament, crafted from my favourite things, had been copied… and it made me smile, because I knew that she had wanted me to know that she missed me, and that she knew me, and that she would never forget, and I did.

My body was cremated, at my wish, so that I could be placed in the ground with my mother and sisters and one day, when it is his time, my husband too.

I did wonder, however, why I was sent to rest wearing my wedding rings. My family knew I was religious and there is no need for gold in the house of God. Did they think me so shallow? I worried for days, trying to work out what had caused this miscommunication. I wanted my husband to keep them. My granddaughter insisted. Still I didn’t know why.

A month after the cremation they took a small walnut box to the headstone that sheltered my mothers body. They placed it into the ground and were overcome with tears once more. I cried too, for their pain. For I knew they would miss me, whereas I could see them at will and had many people here to catch up with.

The answer was finally delivered to me, as they walked away and a young stranger went to bury that walnut box. Before it was sealed under soil I finally saw the inscription my granddaughter had written for me.

“A beloved Grandmother,
Who helped carve me into my own person. Who gave me strength, courage and wisdom. Who gave me everything. Burnt with her gold wedding rings, in the knowledge that in a thousand years time if this box is uncovered and the ashes of gold found, that they will still never know how precious she was.”

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