I kneel on the floor of the chapel, packing my mother’s clothing into a suitcase. Black jacket, black dress, print scarf. Lifeless discards all. Then I pick up a pair of patent leather shoes which quiver with energy. I’m startled to realize my mother has worn them just minutes before. She was not brought to this crematorium dead and desiccated. Alive and vibrant, she chose this outfit not to be buried in, but to slip out of at precisely the right moment, offering herself to the oven at the time of her choosing, and leaving this world as she entered: naked.
By Jessica Needle