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I remember the smell of rich wood and incense.

The reception area was empty, save for myself. Old couches were placed neatly among decorative wooden tables and expensive rugs. The lighting was dim; the only light in the room leaked from old lamps and artificial candles. Everyone I knew was upstairs saying goodbye; I was here, comforted by the somber tone of the room. Everyone began to leave; my mother, her voice shaking, brought me upstairs. And there was my daddy, looking as if he’d just fallen asleep. The men there had placed large, goofy-looking glasses on his face, since we had mentioned that he wore glasses.

“These really aren’t daddy’s style, are they?” My mom tried to joke as she took them off and placed them next to the bundles of flower arrangements around the place. I knew this wasn’t a place to feel comforted; it was a place of sorrow. I just couldn’t shake the feeling of being at peace.

Four years brings me back to this place, with some less significant visits in-between. By now, I know that the women’s bathroom on the first floor has a “secret entrance” that leads to a back staircase and up to the viewing rooms. I joke around with my cousin, going up and down and eventually resting back in the reception area. I am older now; I look at the place with a different perspective. It was no mistake that the place made me feel comforted – the smells and quiet nature were soothing. I always had a taste for older things; the building, being stuck in the 70s, had a calming effect on me. This time, I couldn’t see my grammie laying in the same place my daddy had; they had covered her up. As the crowd of family started to disperse, I found myself feeling more morose.

I lost my daddy; I lost my grammie. I am 13 years old. This shouldn’t be happening.

As my mother collects me this time, I take a look at the dark third floor of the building, visible from the center of the second floor. The corridors above were black; only the shadows of the railing of the balcony were in sight. I felt their presence in that moment. I felt a sense of peace, a sense that I could move on.

Peace and a sense of calm from a funeral home – only I could ever manage this.

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