Last night I woke up at 4 am and heard some people talking nearby. I had no idea what was happening and so went back to sleep. I had planned on sleeping in.
I got up at about 6:30 am and noticed a group of men gathered at the corner near the school. I saw Juan, a neighbor who lives below my house, and asked him what had happened. He told me to come.
I went and found out that his mother had died last night and that they had an all night vigil in the main room of his house – as is the custom here.
Gloria had not seen lights on in my house and had decided not to call me, thinking I was tired. I was – but that wouldn’t have stopped me from stopping by for at least an hour. I told her to contact me whenever there is a death.
I prayed a bit at the coffin and spoke briefly with some family members.
Padre German came out for Mass about noon.
The Mass was in the old church, which is now used for meetings. The new church is being repainted (for the February 3 feast day) and so they couldn’t use it.
The church was packed.
Mass was moving. Padre German gave a very pointed homily. One point he stressed, probably noting the profound grief of some family members, was the importance of asking for help. He mentioned that Doña Victoria won’t get to the cemetery by herself; four men will carry her coffin.
There was much more that he shared, including words of hope based on our need to rely on the Lord.
But one of the most moving moments happened during the Greeting of Peace.
The widower is a bent-over man in his eighties; I don’t think he hears very well; I also thought that he was very withdrawn.
But he left his place and began to greet others. Then he stood by the casket.
Here the caskets usually have a window where one can see the face of the departed.
He stood there and gazed at his beloved.
As Padre was about to begin the rites at the coffin, he invited the widower forward and noted the beauty of the old man’s gesture.
I was near tears – such deep love.
The Mass ended and many went, walking or in pick ups to the funeral. I decided not to go – partly because I’ve got a little cold, partly because I need some personal space.
But as I walked by the new church toward my house in the rain, I noticed the small area of light in the distance.
Creation provided a sign of hope – reflecting the love of an old man for his wife.