It was time to bury the body. In the darkness, there was a faint glow. My shovel sank into the earth without resistance, and the quiet of the night swirled around me. Silence but for the calls of insects, once familiar, now alien and devoid of reason.
Between us and the cabin, I planted two more shovels full of earth to cover the distance that had formed between us, along with the tree, soil and old bird bones.
At first, the night crow's soft cry was so faint that I didn't even notice. Then my father turned to me, and his eyes were old and sad as the shadows surrounded them. The pain of loss that comes with time made the outer corners of his eyes resemble birds' wings. A darkness that fractured as it moved outward.
The moon was softly shining over the top of the trees when my father dropped to his knees. Then, the bird revealed itself to us in all of its finery and glory, hopping onto the top of the tallest tree, facing us.
In the moonlight, the bird cast a magnificent blue and grey shadow, cloaked in tranquillity and dignity. It was still, majestic and devoid of fear, both at night and burial time. I thanked the crow for the serenity it had brought us and proceeded to bury my uncle. Then we felt our spirits lifting, and the cold sets in again.
We picked up our shovels, calmness still lingering on our faces despite our lightheadedness. It was mysterious, but it was comforting. I stood and faced the storm as glorious hail pelted my already-weathered brow.
I dug, pushed, and I buried my uncle. I cried when it was all over. One minute you are staring at the cold eyes of the grave, and the next, your life has changed forever. Then, I cried some more.