I sat in the choir loft, surrounded by nearly a hundred people. Most of them were Rosie's family. Below us, Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel was packed, again full of family and friends. I looked around the choir loft. Cousins stood, arms around each other, crying silently. There were no dry eyes, even among students who hadn't known Rosie well - just her presence and influence in the choir and on campus.
It felt like Good Friday.
They carried in the casket. Six strong brothers and brothers-in-law, all bound by grief, but also bound by an even stronger love. Love for each other, love for Rosie.
I held in sobs, knowing that if I lost it, I'd lose it completely. I kept my eyes focused on the crucifix above the baldacchino, willing myself to keep it together. Again, it hit me - it felt like Good Friday. People mourning, people weeping. Solemn music in a familiar church, where I've watched the suffering of Good Friday turn into the joy of Easter Sunday.
My dear, sweet friend was gone. Her body was in that casket. And it was killing me. There was no Easter Sunday in two days.
The words of the first reading echoed through the church:
"The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace."
She is in peace. But why is she gone?
The words of the Psalm, chanted, gave an answer:
Audi filia, et vide, et inclina aurem tuam: quia concupvit Rex speciem tuam.
"Because the king has desired your beauty."
Rosie told her brother that she regretted never having had the chance to marry and raise a family of her own. From that moment, he prayed that she would be granted the grace of Christ coming to her as a bridegroom. That she would feel all of the joys of being loved in an overwhelming, all-consuming manner with Christ, the King, as her lover.
I can't imagine Jesus refusing such a request. I have no doubt that Jesus took His Rose from us with all the tenderness and love that would befit a bridegroom.
I can see him gently carrying her over the threshold of Heaven, just as a groom does his bride, welcoming her home. And just as a man promises his wife the world in their shared home, Christ promises Rosie His Kingdom, where she shall want for nothing. There will be no more pain, no more cancer, no more death.
As I stood at the graveside, facing her family, I saw broken hearts written across faces. Father, mother, sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews. All broken. It felt like Good Friday. So much confusion, hurt, sadness...
Every one of those heartbroken family members had their faith in Christ shining through their sorrow. They are sad, and some of them may feel a little lost, but they all have faith.
Faith in the Resurrection of the dead. Faith in Rosie's present peace and joy. Faith in their reunion on the other side of the grave. Faith in Easter Sunday.
One of the nieces asked, as they lowered the casket into the ground, "Does Aunt Rosie have a pillow?"
And although I have faith in those same things, that couldn't keep me from weeping. I broke down there, watching her family, watching the casket disappearing. Watching her family cry. My heart aches.
There's a hole in my heart that won't be filled in this life. A place that was filled with Rosie's sweet, but independent, personality. A place filled with Rosie's love for quilting and loyalty to the purity of The Lord of the Rings books. Her half-serious, half-joking reprimands when Augusta and I got too wild. Her laugh as she joined in the fun. Her lovely voice, always leading the sopranos to confidence... except on those new pieces where she and I struggled to sight-sing and sometimes had conflicting interpretations of the intervals. Her constant love for her family and friends. Her joy, especially in her sickness. You had to remind yourself that she was sick because she didn't behave like an invalid. She was truly a faith-filled woman.
Leaning over the side of the grave, staring at the casket, one of her nephews inquired, "How will we get her back up?"
How will we get her back up?
We won't. But Christ will. Christ will raise her up on the last day. In the meantime, we'll miss her physical presence with us, but we will always have her looking down on us from the Heavenly choir. She was constant in her selfless love for those in her life - I can't imagine that's a trait that will disappear in her sainthood.
It felt like Good Friday. One of her brothers voiced the thought that I had kept inside all morning. But he continued the thought, as a good Christian should: "The rest of this life will be like Holy Saturday and we know what happens when Holy Saturday ends."
Yes, we do.
I hugged Mr. Grimm, expressing my condolences as sincerely and deeply as mere words can. I was crying, he was crying. He let me go, held my shoulders, and I whispered, "I hope I can see you again soon on a happier occasion."
He pulled me close, kissed me on top of the head, and held me. "Bridget, this is a happy occasion. Don't forget that."
I hugged Mrs. Grimm, again struggling to express adequate sympathy, and thanking her for welcoming us all into her home. "It's my pleasure, dear. You've always been like a daughter to us - and Rosie would want her family together so they can help each other remember to be happy for her."
Until we meet again, Rosie.
Until that Easter Sunday.