Dedicated to A. K. B., whose dream inspired this story.
The mourners, who hours before surrounded the heap of soil, had departed to their homes and laid upon their tear-soaked pillows. The bones of the young child were discovered nearly a year before and brought national attention to the small hamlet. The quiet town nestled against the auburns, greens, and russet browns of the magnificent mountainside.
A hiker noticed a bright glint out of a pile of newly dropped leaves. His curiosity had lead him to uncover a tiny, bleached skull. He hurriedly, yet gently, removed the remainder of the vegetation to reveal the perfect form of a long-departed, little spirit.
Though twelve months had passed since that day, no one had come forward to claim the child. The townspeople honored the little girl by using their own funds to ensure a proper and respectful burial. The name on the headstone read Naomi because, like the story of Ruth in the Old Testament, the tiny, forgotten girl had left her own people and become one of their own. She was spoken of in hushed, reverential, loving tones.
The grave, located in the morning shadow of the regal Manti Temple, was dedicated earlier in the day by the temple president. Members from all around the area came to say their final goodbye as the casket was lowered into the ground.
The snow began falling heavily by late afternoon and a blanket of white glistening snow, multi-colored foliage, and flower arrangements covered the small pile like a cotton, patchwork quilt. The light from the full moon and the reflection from the glowing temple gave life to the small pioneer cemetery. The trees, bowing from the weight of the snow, mimicked the mourner’s who had bowed their heads over the burial site during the light of the day.
Suddenly a whirlwind whipped up the snow, leaves, and flower petals in a slow, swirling motion, as if a young princess in a white flowing gown was spinning and twirling just above the grave. One could imagine little Naomi gleefully holding her dress out from her small human frame with a wreath a spring flowers haloing her beautiful face as she playfully turned in circles.
A herd of deer feeding nearby jerked their heads upward to be the only living souls to witness the miraculous display. A beam of light glowing from above seemed to reach downward as though a heavenly arm was extending to embrace the scene. The mixture of flowers and leaves and snow and soil spiraled heavenward to meet the light. The deer perked their ears to the sound of the rushing wind.
If the funeral attendees were still present, they would insist they could hear the tinkling of bells and the giggling of a small child echoing through the treetops. The light eased away and the wind stopped while the remnants of nature settled gently to the ground below. The snow continued to fall, the night became darker, and the deer went back to their dinner. A star shot across the sky in the shape of a smile.