Note: 'are replacing Italics'

    I sat there looking out at the trees before me. Wishing and waiting. I would do anything to have one more day with this warmth lying against my shoulder. For this person to stay. If ...  if only they didn't have to go.

    I hated coming here, to this place away from everything and everyone I knew. But now I wish and work to stay here, just that much longer. Supporting this person, loving them, caring for them as they care for me. But just as the dawn of a new day could be seen rising in the distance, we could feel it looming ever closer, that last breath before another life fades away.

    His voice speaks from my shoulder where his head rests. "Thank you."

    I hate it when he says that. He says it too much lately. It,  it terrifies me that one day the last words I'll hear from him are "Thank you." As if what I had done had been my choice, as if it deserved to be thanked for, as if this wasn't something that everyone, no anyone ought to do for someone else. As if I hadn't just carried his, far too light, form out here so that we could once again enjoy a morning together. Lost within this forest, with only the tree to keep us company.

    "Kyrie ..."

    I knew it. I, I just knew it. He's finally leaving me. I'm going to be alone again. Why? Why does this have to happen? Why couldn't life be forever enjoying these moments with each other, never having to leave them, never having to end. I can't take this anymore. I just can't keep doing this.

    "Hey, don't cry. I won't be gone forever you know. I'm just, returning to the earth before you. I want you to be happy. To live your life. You won't have to stay here and take care of me anymore."

    "I want to take caare of you! This place, all of it! You can't leave I won't let you! I will never let you go."

    "Kyrie... You know you can't do that. But you can keep living, remember me, cry, smile, and love. Just don't stop living. Isn't that what I've been trying to teach you for the last ten years."

    He's no longer resting his head on my shoulder. His warm hand rested on my cheek as he gave me a smile that I will never forget. A smile that shall push me forward and haunt me all at once. "Yeah... I will. I just, don't want to lose you if I can help it."

    "Thank you Kyrie."

    His hand drifted off my cheek.

    And his eyes closed with a peaceful smile.

    His last breath released into the rising of the dawn.

    He was gone. My uncle was gone.

    No. He is not gone. He lives on in me, and in the nature around us. I just have to keep looking at the rhythms of life that are hidden in everything. If I can just keep looking then I will always find him.

    I will never be alone. No matter what


    2 weeks later.

    "Why's he making us wait like this? That kid really is just a cold-hearted bastard isn't he."

    It matters not to me what they think. I wish they weren't here at all. Why should they be here to see his funeral? They say their his friends and family, but none of them have visited him. I don't even recognize most of them. They probably came here out of guilt, or perhaps a wish to relieve their guilt.

    Breath, just breath. This is not how Jesif would want me to act.

    The sun is out. The breeze is there. The leaves are rustling. Now. Now is the right time to start. I can feel it like a calming ache in my bones




    "Thank you all for coming," is what range strong and clear through the parking lot at the base of a trail I have walked so so many times with my uncle.

    "Before we begin I have a request to make. Would each of you please leave all or you electronics behind. Jesif would only allow a landline to be in our home so please help me honor him in this way."

    The silence sat heavy and thoughtful, until a woman and her son who looked about my age, 16, walked to their car and placed their phones and watches inside it for safekeeping. After they moved it was like a spell had been broken and the others followed in their footsteps.

    As they completed my small request. I opened one of the two boxes that sat on a wooden bench. Inside sat a green and black fan, and scabbard containing a katana. With trembling hands, I tied the fan to my left hip and the katana to my right. After this, I gazed for a moment at the simple urn that still sat in the box. 'It's almost time for me to take you in my arms one last time uncle.'

    Next, I reached for the other box and opened it. Inside was a teal and black fan and katana. The design identical to the ones on my hips. These I grabbed with more confidence and steadily tied them to my hips. So they rested next to my uncles.

    After this, I turned around and gazed at the other mourners that had come. "Are you ready?" I asked them, but did not wait for an answer, no I didn't want one. I turned and gently held onto the urn that contains my uncles remains.

    I slowly but steadily began the trek to the spot I had chosen to be my uncles final resting place. We climbed through the trees for what felt to be a far too short amount of time. But, in reality, took far longer than normal. I could hear the heavy breathing of those behind me. I had told them to dress for a walk. But I suppose this is a long trek. A trek that felt impossible the first time I walked it.

    But now it was done, the clearing could be seen up-ahead. The water of the pound that fed one of the many streams in this forest, glistening under the sunlight.
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