Death was of very little consequence to the dead. He knew this. To the living, however, the effect of death was far more profound and far reaching. No matter how hard he tried to blot out the memories, years of experience has taught him this lesson.
He was not a man of God. He was a man of science. As he sat in the church pew, however, a sanctuary of calm in a world beyond his control, he prayed. He prayed, not for the soul which was lost to this world, but for all the souls that were left behind.
He knew she was there with him before he heard her and before he saw her. He felt her. She didn’t sit, but stood beside him.
“What are you doing?” she queried quietly, not trusting her interpretation of the scene before her. She wasn’t used to seeing him like this – unguarded.
He answered her with a look that conveyed the magnitude of his plight. His regret. His need for redemption. His need to make things right.
“You did all you could.”
“I could have done more.”
“No. Not this time.”
“I could have done more,” he stated more forcefully.
She rested a hand on his shoulder. The other arm cradled their sleeping son.
Too late he lifted his gaze to meet hers, as she turned, slipping her hand from his shoulder. He reached out for her, catching the loose hanging belt of her coat. It slipped through his fingers as she walked away, just like life slipped through his fingers.
The last vestiges of day slipped away too. Dust danced in the fragmented light that fell through the high church windows.
Evening came, just as morning would come.