On the way to Alaska’s funeral, Miles feels so much pain that he physically hurts. He loves Alaska and she cannot love him back because she is dead, and he feels like that isn’t fair. He thinks about Meriwether Lewis’ last words—“So hard to die”—and decides that being left behind is just as hard.
Up until this point, Miles has put great faith in other people’s last words, but coming face to face with death now makes him question them. They are not necessarily the infallible guides to life he believed them to be.
At the funeral Alaska’s casket is closed, and Miles realizes that he will never see her again. When he asks her father why it’s not open, he tells Miles that Alaska always said she wanted a closed casket because her mother had an open one. Alaska didn’t want anyone to see her dead. Miles and the Colonel stand by Alaska’s coffin, and Miles thinks that there are “too many layers” separating them from one another. When Miles says that he loves Alaska, the Colonel says he knows Miles did. Miles insists that he still loves her, and that the love shouldn’t be in the past tense. He wonders if the labyrinth of death could really be worse the labyrinth he currently feels like he’s in.
The fact that Alaska told her dad she didn’t want anyone to see her at her funeral is alarming, considering that most children would expect to die after their parents. Miles, now faced with the reality of never seeing Alaska again, once more counts the layers of separation between them. This time, however, he does not think about how close they are to one another, but how far apart. Alaska has escaped from her labyrinth of suffering, but Miles has only just now entered into his.