In Passing

Man knows that he must die and is, for all intents and purposes, the only animal with this knowledge. Alone, in all of creation, he must exist with death.

—Eduard von Hartmann

The ashes of a human being are not ash. Wood burns into ash. The body burns into wood. The gray splinters make a sound as they clatter into the clay pot held by the weather-beaten man whose job it is to tend to the pyre. Calcified bones, a metallic sound. My brothers and I continue to watch, to listen, bereft and yet not entirely conscious of our own mortality, conscious only of overwhelming grief. My father, two years younger than my mother had been, walks away.

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