A Death in the Family

by Cheryl Anne Tuggle

My husband wants to know if I’m going to church. No, I say. It’s too soon. (Exactly four hours and 23 minutes short of 48.) I’ll just stand there and cry. He stops shaving and looks at me. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, I hope. I’ve soaked a handful of  tissues and we’re just singing the beatitudes. They are. I’m sobbing. Blessed are those who mourn. An audible, involuntary groan escaping the depths of my belly and inward parts. My godmother peers over her service book at me. A little brown bird in a silken sari. Exotic and warm. Stretching out a blue-feathered wing, she touches my shoulder. For they shall be comforted. A surrogate mother. I have a treasure trove of them here. In bone and flesh—my soul-sisters and brothers—and in spirit—the saints and martyrs alive in gold and wood and paint. Even my priest is a kind of mother, his faith in me beyond my ken. Through a veil of tears I watch him pray, his arms raised to heaven. Lightning rods for the Holy Spirit. I shift my gaze to wall on his left and catch sight of God’s mother. She holds to her breast the slack, lifeless body of her son. Do not lament me O Mother. But she does lament. She is weeping. A sword pierces my heart.


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