Boys pulled uncomfortably at their collars, while girls tried to smooth their unfamiliar dresses down. Most hadn’t had to dress like this since their first Communions, and though many of them attended the church every Sunday, all of them seemed out of place in the stifling dark heat of the house of God.
The rites of Catholicism were clothed in ties and frills.
I stood off to one side of the church, beside the stained glass depictions of the Stations of the Cross that made this church an attraction for Catholics and tourists alike. They had been done by a local artist who went on to some level of International fame before overdosing and drowning in his own vomit.
Above my head was Pilate’s accusing finger, rendered in guilt and glass, ordained to mete out death and history. The rain running down the outside of the window gave the illusion he was weeping.
Carrie’s casket was closed. We had eventually found out that she had hung herself. Reports from the local newspaper noted that a police investigation hadn’t been necessary – a suicide note had been left.
As the family had chosen not to disclose the contents of the note, the reasons for the girl to hang herself were still open to speculation. The rumor mill had been quiet – the prevailing theory around town now was that the father had been mistreating her.
I’d never been to a funeral before, I had no idea of what to expect. There were emotional eulogies by her parents, by her grandparents, and surprisingly, by Jay, who told those assembled that he had lost both a sister and his best friend. I felt awful for him. I couldn’t imagine his pain.
God called his flock home at the appointed hour, the priest told us, called them home to a better place. How her suffering was over now, and she was happy in her new place.
I slipped out into the rain before the end. As I walked home under a grey, scudding sky, walked through the rain and puddles, I wondered to myself what sort of god would call his people home by making their lives so painful they’d hang themselves in a closet and leave their families empty and broken.