Outside it was still. The air quiet except for the held breath being exhaled slowly from my lungs, to my mouth, and out of the lips I liked nervously. I stood at the bottom of the short cement staircase and moved my feet, first right, then left, with precision, determination. The two large wooden doors opened and the first sight that filled my line of vision made my body clench into it self, my stomach filled with only coffee, grew tight, solid. The long silver rectangle in front of me was surrounded by strangers, and yet the gaze I held with them for the instant I awkwardly shuffled in, made them intimately familiar. I quickly walked to a space in the back and sat, supported by the hard wooden pew.
As the mass began I searched the people in the small church. Sunlight streamed in through tall windows illuminating the dust motes that swam around the coffin, the people, me. The priest began the sermon his words short and clipped with their Spanish accent. The rhythm off, from the mass now playing in my mind, in another church, another pew, a different person sitting beside me.
"Escuchanos Senor," the congregation said in unison.
I turned, warm hand on my knee, handkerchief clenched with index finger against her palm as she looked at the priest with such reverence.
"Hace caso Prieta."
I looked back at the priest, the one giving the sermon in English, my knee cold. I swallowed the lump in my throat, a mixture of sympathy, scented candles, and incense. I looked forward to the corner of the church, the figure I searched for blocked by the other parishioners, worried, knowing this day was not easy. The inevitable loss never easy.