The library was closed on Mondays. Damn. I’d planned to spend an hour writing and researching until it was time to pick up the kids. Not enough time to go home and back, I drove away and spotted a church with a shady parking lot. With lowered car windows, I worked for a few minutes in the humid summer heat when an angel’s voice reached my ears, singing, "Oh, beautiful, for spacious skies—" A mass must be starting. I’d missed church yesterday, God was clearly calling me inside where it would be dark and cool.
I found a place in an empty back pew where I admired the soaring columns meant to lift eyes heavenward. Years ago I’d attended the Christmas concert of a friend with whom I’d lost contact. A friend who had subsequently been diagnosed with cancer. I wondered how she was. I closed my eyes and prayed.
The priest read a bible passage, Jesus wept at Lazurus’ grave. I noticed in a pew in front of me, spaced like a squadron in formation, a row of men wearing Vietnam Vets motorcycle vests. As I pondered this, I finally noticed at the front of the church near the altar a draped coffin.
Another hymn. We rose. The father began to recount the life of Ronald, passed beyond at age seventy-eight, survived by his wife Flavia, three daughters, numerous grand and great-grandchildren. My thoughts drifted to my own husband’s funeral, nearly fifteen years ago. The priest comforted us that all those who believe in Him shall have eternal life. I wondered if my husband had believed. I said a prayer for him and for Ronald, Flavia and his family. I wept.
The father announced the offertory hymn. I rose and nodded at the usher near the door. He scowled as I stepped out into the bright sunshine.