Heavenly Rooms and a Burned-Out House

Joan Sauro, CSJ | November 8, 2018

The main aisle of St. Lucy’s Church is clogged with somber, slow-moving mourners, none in a rush to reach the front of the church. People have come as they are. For some this means T-shirts with colored pictures of the deceased, sneaks, worn sports jackets, hoodies; for one a floor-length black dress with open back. Here and there women have added strings of pearls, hoop earrings, colored hair done in straggly buns. Some faces are young. Others, with features sanded down by life, appear old before their time. None of the women appear to wear makeup. No concealment of grief, no facade this day.

Three open caskets stretch end-to-end the width of the sanctuary. In the first a woman lies stalwart with upturned face. She looks to be 40, although she is only 18. She cradles her 1-year-old baby, his light brown face angelic, dark lashes resting on smooth cheeks, thick black hair brushed back. His small arms lie at his side. Piled over his feet are stuffed animals he will never hold. Near his mother is a cap she will never wear: “Future Nurse. Cayuga Community College.” Someone has spread a white rosary over the woman’s chest.

No one seems able to move away from mother and child. One elderly gentleman stands riveted, his eyes lifted heavenward as if earth is too much to bear. A few yards away stands a statue of that other Mother who lost her Son. Her head is bent in grief.

In the second casket lies the young woman’s mother, the child’s grandmother. A pink rosary spreads across her neat dress.

The third casket holds her 16-year-old son. His friends have folded a dollar bill between his fingers and a small cigar. A chaplet of bright beads circles his heart.

Conspicuously absent is the 20-year-old son, brother and uncle. The one who waited until dark, then set fire to both ends of their house so there was no escaping the flames. While we mourn in church, he sits in the city jail a mile away.

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 by Daily Domer Staff

Posted In: ND Magazine