Jodie Briggs | Longreads | March 2018 | 16 minutes (3,925 words)

I have never been afraid of dead bodies. Their frequent appearance in my family’s funeral home quickly normalized the sight of motionless limbs in elegant steel caskets. We were the lone proprietors of death in my childhood home of Denton, North Carolina, and my familiarity with the end of life led me to assume a certain ease with mortality. Or so I thought.


Every day after school, I walked to the funeral home with my older brother. My grandmother, who was 79 when I was born, lived in the apartment above the business with her two sisters, and our octogenarian babysitters delighted in feeding us Little Debbie Zebra Cakes and teaching us to play card games. When my brother got too old to play, I began slipping downstairs to practice my dance routines in the empty layout…

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