The Monk raised his eyes, and everyone fixed their gaze on his shaved face and full head of hair. He started to speak, trying too hard to steady his trembling voice.
“You see, nothing prepares a human being well enough for the eventuality of death. He spends his whole life in spite of it, most often unaware of it, tries to achieve earthly success in faux anticipation of it, treating other humans as if in contempt of it. In all this, nothing prepares him for the final journey to the cold arms of the Eternal Lover.”
He looked at the corpse lying a few feet away and in that moment, his voice took on some steel and stopped trembling.
“There is always fear in the eyes of the dying, a fear that comes from understanding that the journey before them is a voyage without companionship. He must find out what lies beyond this plane alone. Yet he feels pain. A pain that comes from knowing that the ones he loves will always feel the pain of his absence. Where the person dying is a glorious man like this man-now corpse, he knows that it will take two lifetimes to get over this loss which we all mourn.”
He lifted his hands, and the corpse was lowered into the grave.
It was all the Monk could do to close his eyes as the tears and wailing rent the air all around him.
Then the Monk saw him. A wan, peaceful smile on his face. The only two words that broke the emotional resistance he built since he heard of his friend’s death left his mouth when he said “Thank you”. Then he became immaterial and unseen, to stay that way for eternity.
At once the Monk left the small gathering at the foot of the river, walked a distance alone, and gave in to the tears which had stung his eyelids.
For Dim Emerie.