There is no end to any of it, there are only new beginnings. That is the koan which my master left me with on his deathbed, and even now, three years later, I find no peace in it. Nonetheless as I stand over the grave of perhaps my closest friend this so-called wisdom offers me no comfort. No, instead it sticks in my mind like a cruel taunt; what ‘new beginning’ could possibly be here for Tessa or for me?

Her grave looks like a wound in the Earth. There is nothing even remotely natural about burial, about placing the dead in the ground. People say that we become one with the ground, food for worms and beetles, but embalming and coffins lead to that future being unlikely. Tessa did end; there is no new beginning for her, not even organic recycling.

Some might say that her new beginning is the afterlife, others might say it is re-birth or reincarnation, but standing over the dark trench of her final resting place, looking down at her coffin I am so completely certain that she is gone; there is no comfort here.