The street was paved with red bricks that were worn smooth with age. "Are you okay?" I asked.
Looking down at his feet, he silently shook his head and began to cry. "That was the hardest thing I have ever done," he replied.
Crisp leaves crunched under foot as we walked silently in the sun, the quiet only broken by the occasional acorn as it popped from its cap and plummeted to the ground. Leaving my aunts and uncles behind, we moved swiftly, as if we would simply walk forever. I had nothing to say but "I'm sorry." Somehow the words just wouldn't come.
I held his hand and just let him talk, recalling the days they all played in the creek near the railroad trestle at the end of his grandmother's street. His stories seemed to ease his pain and he shared more memories as we walked on between the gray and weathered stones. She was a remarkable woman, an inspiration, and his best friend.
Bricks gave way to blacktop. We reached the chapel and stopped, waiting for the rest of the family to join us as she drifted further away from us on the wind. "We will still have memories," I said, and we collected acorns and pods from the Catalpa trees to plant at home as a reminder of the day. "We'll have our trees," he said. "We'll just have to take good care of them."
Meanwhile, out across the rolling hills, the earth was preparing for its long rest, pulling on a colorful cloak of leaves and preparing to hold its children near as the days grew colder and shorter. I can do nothing more than keep holding his hand as long as I am given that gift.