The Beauty That Remains by Ashley Woodfolk
When we get to the church, your brother walks straight to the front and kisses the top of the casket, but I can’t go up there. So I just head to the second row of pews and sit down at the very end. I look at my phone, at the infinite stream of pictures of you, and I try not to look anywhere else. For the first time ever, I feel grateful for how many selfies you took, and I feel bad that I always teased you about being conceited. If I didn’t have hundreds of digital squares with you in them, I’m not sure how I’d remember to breathe. After a while, when I do look up, I use different squares—ones of tinted sunshine spilling through the stained-glass windows—to mark time as they move across the room. I’m sitting with your family. Your mom is squeezing rosary beads in her hand, weeping in a way that doesn’t make any noise. Your dad’s staring straight ahead, but not really looking at anything. Dante sits down beside me after he kisses your casket, and I can feel that he’s crying by the way his shoulder moves against mine.