I grew up the daughter of necromancers and undertakers, well acquainted with unmoored spirits. Singing, weeping, and hearty, rich food were well-known qualities of a good homegoing, but it was harder for folks who left this world unknown and without proper honoring. My parents raised me on rituals to care for the rootless: tipping salt into the freshly turned earth, scattering dried flowers, singing unrehearsed prayers. Over and over until you felt the flutter of the veil and knew they’d found the peace they needed to move on.
“This country’s a potter’s field,” Mama would mumble, slipping salt into my pockets on my way out the door. She always wanted me prepared to put a soul to rest, even though I resisted. I hated pulling back the veil and seeing all my trapped kinfolk. It hurt too much, so I left the veil down as much as I could and tried to pretend that I couldn’t sense them.