“Dear Lord,” the minister’s voice rang out against a backdrop of imperfect organ music, “please accept Diane’s spirit into your loving arms, comforting us with the reminder that someday we will meet her again in our true home, a kingdom where you reign for all eternity. Amen.”
“Amen,” responded the congregation in unison.
The sun was shining brightly outside the front of the church, an inappropriately pleasant day for a funeral. Vincent stepped out the doorway following a small crowd as they funneled out. He squinted his eyes sharply as they adjusted to the light.
An older woman with a glimmer of youthfulness in her eyes rested a hand on his shoulder. “Vince,” she said, wiping a tear from her cheek, “it means so much to us that you came.”
He smiled, and placed his right hand on top of hers. “Family is important to me, Aunt Margaret.”
“Well,” she said with a brief pause, “I know you’re very busy. Goodness, you had to cut your trip short. Diane would have- I’m sure she’s pleased to know you are here.”
He nodded and Margaret gave him a hug before proceeding toward a group of younger relatives.
Vince looked over toward a large tree that was providing shade to several people gathered on the sidewalk, one of its large branches held up by a metal support pole. He recalled a time during his childhood when he tried to climb this tree, and his mother scolded him to get down, worried for his safety.
“It’s kind of amazing, isn’t it?” a male voice said as his cousin Ivan walked up and stood next to him.
“That people still take part in this ritual.”
“Perhaps. You want a funeral someday, don’t you?”
“Eh, maybe. Feels unnecessary. Religion’s been on its way out for years, but some people don’t want to let things go.”
“People find comfort here. Nonsense or not.” Vince chuckled. “I’m no saint, but I do like the idea of heaven.”
“Amen,” replied Ivan.
They stood quietly for a minute or so, trying to reconcile the somber mood of the memorial with the soft chirping of birds around them.
“Next time you in town, let’s hit up Montecello’s.”
“Definitely,” said Vince, as he put on a sleek pair of sunglasses.
“Take care Ivan,” he responded, proceeded toward the parking lot where an orange sports car stood out among an assemblage of humble looking sedans.