There was about fourteen priests seated on the stage all dressed in white robes with different purple sashes.
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.
C'est la vie.