The Funeral

Like all of my “firsts” in France, this was full of surprises too.

 I forgot about the bisous. Before we even got to the seats David’s mom saved us near the front of the church, we had to go around the sad little circle clustered near the front and kiss everyone hello. There were David’s cousins, one of whom I had taken around Paris even though we couldn’t really speak to each other, who is the son of David’s uncle that reminds me of my dad. There was the youngest, who just had a baby and who’s eyes were full of tears which started mine. David’s wiry little Godfather who always has a smile. My eyes lit up when I saw Josef, David’s aunts boyfriend. I still had a little old man in my life, I had forgotten about him. Having to press my cheek to each person I had only ever seen in happy times caused an embarrassing sob to catch in my throat. These strangers who stared at me at my wedding two years ago had become my family. And now one of them was missing.

There was about fourteen priests seated on the stage all dressed in white robes with different purple sashes. It was like a reality show reunion but with less yelling.

The nuns singing was beautiful. A break in the dreary ceremony. A reminder that life goes on.

At the end everyone filed past the coffin and dropped money into a basket at the head of it. The heavy euros coins clinked clinked clinked in the silent church as pew after pew emptied.

To avoid crying I kept imagining him on his borrowed bike during his search for black market butter during the war. He rode hours to a farmhouse far out of town and had all sorts of missteps and problems along the way. I averted my eyes from the coffin four feet in front of me, and I kept thinking of him on his way back home with his butter. Young and strong and triumphant.

And then there was the wake. Relief and laughter. Old stories about the priest and Jean Michel getting stopped at the border with a car full of illegal wine. Babies passed around and questions about jobs, our apartment search, the wedding next weekend.

David had just finished explaining a joke Jean Michel had told about a blonde and blow jobs when he realized the nuns who had spoken to us in english at the cemetery where sitting behind us.

C’est la vie.

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2 Responses to “The Funeral”

  1. paw Says:

    I wish I had been the nuns to hear the joke…

  2. eMerly Says:

    I'm sure they have heard worse! They were actually really sweet, almost child-like with their joy. For them it wasn't a sad day because they aren't heathens who don't believe in heaven.

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