One room. The same as the day before. No one is standing in front of it.
This is our body for today.
It’s a catholic funeral. Starting at 8:20 am.
The priest, in his purple robe, asks to beginn early. Maybe if we weren’t standing there, he would have. The funeral director says, according to regulations they should start on time. Because you never know.
Big room, electric candle-like lamps, emptiness, minus ten degrees Celsius.
We enter and sit down at the allotted wooden chairs to the right side of the room. The priest asks why we are here. Maybe he was hoping we could tell him something about the dead woman lying in the paupers coffin at the head of the room.
No we don’t know her.
Why are we here, he asks.
Because we are curious.
Immediately an elbow nudge to the side. Bad answer. Partially the truth. The priest says nothing. The organ player sneezes.
The funeral starts.
Five times the wrong name, only once correct.
Apparantly God will accept her either way.
Apparantly God will accept the priest either way.
Short service. Partially for no one, partially for us, partially for her or partially for ritual’s sake. Collective prayers to which we do not know the words. We really don’t belong.
The bells ring, the doors open, four men in black walk to the coffin and carry it effortlessly to the hearse. A black velvet blanket with silver flowers covers the coffin and the standard red-white-red carnations adorn the top. Should we have brought flowers? Where would we have hid them if friends or family members had shown up?
It’s freezing cold but the procession helps bring life to our toes.
This hearse drives faster than that of yesterday, everyone is dead cold.
We arrive at the grave located on the other side of the cemetery. The priest repeats his lines from the end of the ceremony and splashes the coffin one last time with holy water. The friendly grave digger shares the fruits of his work: a small pile of dirt on a small shovel. Each of us help to bury the body.
The funeral is over, the priest and his attendants leave. The gravedigger goes back to work removing the metal coffin elevator from the grave. We each take a last look at the coffin with a cross on top and leave the cemetery.