Amy’s grandma passed away. We went up to New Jersey for the funeral.

Never been a pallbearer before. First time for everything. Most of the pallbearer duty consists of just placing a hand atop the casket as it rolls on a wheeled stand from funeral home to church, but some lifting is needed needed when it comes to the curb. As I struggle with the handle and wrestle the casket those few vertical inches, my mind tries to form some metaphor about the weight of mortality, but it’s just a heavy casket.

Praying Mantis in Funeral Home Casket Selections

Back in the funeral home, a praying mantis hangs out — literally — from a floor lamp, and an array of casket selections can be viewed in the office. After the funeral mass and burial ceremony, I spy an oblique cube headstone. It is, to say the least, unique. We then retire to a nearby diner for brunch. The pickles are amazing.

Bound Brook Cemetery: Cube Headstone
Pickled Vegetables Pickles

New York, the next day. We look at Asian art at The Met and eat sushi at Kiku. The waiter says they have a shipment of some excellent Toro in the sashimi selection. I order a piece. It’s $4, but is the most amazing fatty melt-in-your-mouth chunk of tuna I have ever eaten. Along with a few pieces of salmon it is one of those sashimi meals where I am sad to come to the end. Outside, a view of Midtown Manhattan.

Looking towards midtown from Kiku Sushi in Chelsea Metropolitan Museum of Art

It all feels so material and bodily. I feel like I should be grieving more, not touring about New York and absorbing classical art and raw fish. But I’ve always had this numb matter-of-factness about death, and a hope from tenets of my faith regarding the afterlife. A heavy casket, but lighter at least by the weight of a soul redeemed.

Times Square-42nd St Station