Saturday, February 18, 2006

The husband and I had lunch with the priest last week at a peculiar restaurant with three counters for three different types of semi-hemi-demi fast food. "Pinnar eller bestick?" the girl behind the counter asked, and I held up the line for a minute, unable to decide whether to go for chopsticks or regular utensils (there, you've got your Swedish phrase for the day). Which was stupid, because wooden chopsticks always work so much better than plastic forks and knives for eating just about anything.

We sat down to our little cardboard cartons of food and dug in, and the conversation meandered onto the subject of funerals.

"The most horrible are the ones where it's just me, the organist and the funeral director in the back or outside smoking cigarettes," the priest said.

The husband and I were taken aback. Do they even have a funeral for someone if no one comes?

"Yes," she said, and sighed. "All the time. I just had one yesterday. It's unbearably sad. Instead of speaking to the people who have come, I speak to the person who has died. It's one of the worst parts of my job. And I think I couldn't stand it if I didn't believe in God."

We sat silently for just a second or two, among the clatter all around us. And then we moved nimbly on to the topic of the husband's trip to Spain, or the book I was reading, I don't actually remember what it was.

by Francis S.

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