Babylon Rising, Chapter 46
Time for Laura’s funeral.
I’ll admit right up front that although I have been to funerals, I have never been to the funeral for someone killed in an accident that also claimed other lives. As such, I do not know the protocol for how much the service talks about the tragedy, or the larger implications of such tragedy. Where is the line in discussing the accident, and politicizing a funeral?
But first, another note: Laura’s clothes for the funeral are described, but we still have no idea what she looks like. There are flowers threaded through her hair…and we don’t know what color the hair is, if it’s long or short, nothing.
The funeral takes place in the blown-out church, with plastic sheeting covering the shattered stained glass windows. Which, again, I can’t decide if it’s inappropriate or not. What if the structure is not secure?
Once again, Dinallo does a decent job conveying some of the strange thoughts that fly through a person’s head in a crisis (Murphy wonders why Pastor Bob doesn’t stop the birds outside from singing during the funeral).
Pastor Bob starts in on the service:
“How could such a terrible thing have happened? And now, adding insult to injury, the very people who have suffered the most in this tragedy are being accused of terrible crimes. On the TV and the newspapers we are being talked of as murderers and terrorists. How can this be?”
Again, I just don’t know what to think of this—I have no basis for comparison. On one hand, maybe it would be strange not to mention the reason behind Laura’s death. On the other, it’s her funeral. Is it crass to mention politics at all?
In any event, after doing a quick, boilerplate “God has a great mysterious plan” bit, Pastor Bob gets down to actually, yanno, talking about Laura:
“Anyone who saw her smile, heard her laugh, the way she would make others laugh”—he smiled—“sometimes with a joke at their own expense—and I speak from experience here—will know what a joyful and joy-giving woman she was.”
Okay, I see what he’s trying to say here, but it comes out as though he is celebrating the fact that Laura took pleasure in mocking other people.
Bob then goes on to praise the way Laura gave up archeology to “devote herself to helping others.” As has been discussed previously, it’s too bad she did so without any training in helping others, but hey, it was her duty as a Good Christian Wife.
“Only those who have lost a loved one know what Michael is feeling today. Our hearts truly go out to him.”
Sounds nice, until you realize that a few people are conspicuously absent from “hearts going out”—like Laura’s parents, sitting in the front row. A child predeceasing the parents, and Pastor Bob doesn’t even mention them? What a dick.
This touches on a bigger issue, as well, which I will discuss in detail in a later chapter. Lest we forget, four other people died in the bombing—the girl in the basement, the boy in the basement, Chuck Nelson (though he has not yet been identified), and Jenny, the middle-aged woman at the actual meeting. Yet, from this point on, Michael Murphy’s pain will be treated as more acute, a greater loss, than the families who lost Jenny and the young people in the basement.
Pastor Bob, having blithely ignored parents who just lost their daughter, goes on to give the standard closing about how Jesus will “come back to get them before they die,” as Irene Steele would say, and “you will see Laura again.”
And on that note, the service concludes, and as Murphy passes the coffin, he sees the Spooky Portent of Doom—someone snapped the little cross Murphy gave Laura, and it is now in pieces around her neck.
And I gotta admit, it is a tad spooky.