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  • Published 20200505
  • ISBN: 9781922268761
  • Extent: 264pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

The body of Raleigh May, sixty-seven, lies in an open casket in the chapel of the Craig-Hurtt Funeral Home on North Main Street in Mountain Grove, Missouri, United States in September 2018. Raleigh was a Vietnam veteran who received multiple service accolades, including an Army Commendation Medal and a Bronze Star Medal. 


Raeleigh Mae Guzman, nine, stands over the open casket of her maternal great-grandfather and namesake, Raleigh May. He was her best friend and hero.

‘The sun rose and set on that little girl,’ said Raeleigh’s mother, Ninfa Guzman, twenty-seven. ‘He would never tell anyone, but she was his favourite.’


Raeleigh on her ninth birthday, surrounded by fellow great-grandchildren and other extended family members who were in town for the funeral. Raeleigh’s family did not make formal birthday plans because her great-grandfather was gravely ill. He passed away three days before her birthday, resulting in a bittersweet celebration.


Raeleigh walks in the funeral procession behind her maternal grandmother, Elizabeth ‘Becky’ Lamson, forty-seven, and her maternal great-grandmother (and Raleigh’s widow), Patsy, sixty-five.


Raleigh May was buried with full military honours on Tuesday, 25 September 2018. The funeral took place behind the family’s church, one mile down an unpaved road from the property where Raleigh lived with his wife, Patsy, since they moved to Missouri in April 1990.


Raeleigh kneels at her great-grandfather’s gravesite immediately after the burial service. Following the funeral, Raeleigh asked her mother if she could dig Raleigh back up so she could spend more time with him. 


Raeleigh lays her head on her great-grandmother’s kitchen counter the morning after her great-grandfather’s funeral. She dreaded returning to school after several days off following Raleigh’s death.


Raeleigh peers through the dew-covered window of her paternal grandmother’s car at daybreak before going back to school.

She now begins to explore life without Raleigh.

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