From afar, I saw the group of claw monsters, sitting in front of St. Mary’s church. In total, there were five of them, who gesticulated wildly and walked up and down at the closed portal, restlessly. Hiding behind some trashcans, I could hear their grunting. Carefully, I peeked around the corner and listened to their conversation. Well, I assumed they were chatting. Of course, I didn’t understand them. I thought about why they were behaving like that. It was odd. According to Father Michael it wasn’t uncommon, that the creatures of the night came to the church, waiting for the hunter. But why didn’t they hide, but patrolled in front of the entrance like watchdogs? There haven’t been many attacks right in front of our front door – I could remember each and every single one of them. My enemies had always stayed under cover of darkness and had hidden behind bushes and shrubs. So, why were they desperate to stand in the glow of the lanterns now, which were left and right of the portal, visible to everyone?
My head started spinning, as I thought about what I should do. Should I dare to attack them, knowing that a single monster of their kind could finish me? Vividly, I could remember my last encounter with one of their friends. The scar on my arm started to tickle at the mere memory. Surely it was wiser to stay hidden and wait until they would leave. Especially as I still was cold from my cemetery walk and the sadness and disappointment still paralyzed me. Being in that condition, it would have been insane to take a whole bunch of claw monsters on. A few days ago, I gladly would have accepted this adventure, but now my common sense was working again, telling me to wait.
Until dawn, I sat behind the trashcans. During the waiting period, I almost lost patience and wanted to tear off to shoot down the troublemakers. “That’s the second endurance test for me today,” I thought. And I passed it as well.
When the first warming rays of sunshine met me, I heard another excited grunting. Curiously, I looked around the corner and saw my ugly friends withdrawing. Phew! At last!
It was hard for me to stand up. Due to the crouching position I had been in, my muscles were stiff. I loosened them up. Carefully, I scurried over to the wall of a house. I walked along it until I reached the corner of the house. I looked around the corner to see whether the coast was clear. Luckily, I couldn’t see a thing. Nevertheless, I stayed where I was. Just to be on the safe side.
After about another fifteen minutes I thought that enough time had passed and tiptoed across the street and walked over to the church. My eyes combed the area for any monster hiding somewhere. But without great effort I reached the portal. I opened it and entered, sighing. It took a huge load off my mind, when I leaned against the closed door and drew a deep breath. I was home again.
“For heaven’s sake! Where have you been?”
My rest was over. Now, the storm broke.
Father Michael walked down the aisle, passed the baptismal font and quickly came nearer. I grimaced and looked to the ground. I really couldn’t do with that now! Neither his reprimand nor the reproaches he would utter, because I hadn’t called him in between. When I couldn’t hear his steps on the stone floor, I looked up and spotted him, waiting a few feet away from me. Furiously, he eyed me.
“When I came back, five monsters were waiting for me in front of the church,” I said, hearing him catching his breath. “I hid and waited until they left. I wasn’t able to take them on. I just couldn’t, Michael,” I breathed, looking at him apologetically. I hoped he could see it written in my face how I felt and knew that I needed something else instead of words of admonishment.
It didn’t take long for Father Michael to know, that something was wrong. As always, his knowledge of human nature didn’t let us down.
“What’s wrong?” he asked me.
“My father passed away,” I said shortly, sitting down on the floor, exhausted.
Immediately, the Father came running to me and knelt down beside me. He put a hand on my head and gently stroked my hair. “How do you know?” he asked me in a calm voice.
“When I was on patrol, I came to a cemetery. I don’t remember how I got there. At some point, I just stood between the tombstones and then I spotted his grave,” I said.
“I’m very sorry, Ada,” Father Michael said and continued stroking over my head. “How are you?” he asked and I couldn’t overhear, that he was seriously worried. But I couldn’t answer his question, as I didn’t know how I was. So, I just shrugged my shoulders.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
Now, he was in his element again: the caring churchman, who looked after his lamb and helped to grieve, like he had done so many times before within his parish.
“May I ask you a question?” I ignored his question, because there was something I couldn’t get out of my mind since I had left the cemetery.
“Of course,” the Father replied quickly. Finally, he let go of my hair and sat down, cross-legged.
“Do you think it’s awful of me not to feel any mourning?” I asked and looked him in the eyes. I wanted to see the first signs of contempt in them, if there were any. However, I could find no indication of misunderstanding or disapproval. Instead, I only saw warmth and kindness. “I mean, it does make me sad that he died and I couldn’t even say goodbye to him. Nevertheless, it doesn’t torment me as much as it should. So, am I an awful daughter, Michael?” Again, I studied his face and again, all I could see was warmth.
“No. Some people are able to deal with the loss of a loved one well, because they could prepare. Others don’t believe it is possible to prepare for something like that. I’ve seen much at funerals. There was much hatred and love, but also much indifference. This doesn’t mean those people didn’t love the deceased. No matter what happened, the affection for a family member was always there and will always be there. It’s not possible to completely separate that bond. You just forget it from time to time, because terrible things happened. Unfortunately, you remember the bad events more easily than the good ones,” he said.
He was absolutely right. I virtually was a walking encyclopedia of bad memories. You didn’t need to look for good ones in me.
“But we have to forget about the past. We must look for the good things inside of us and remember that not everything was bad,” Father Michael added.
For a moment, I looked into his black eyes. I couldn’t help but to think that he surely was a good thing, which could be found in my encyclopedia. “But I don’t feel like crying,” I said. “I feel emotionally cold, as if I’ve become hardened over the last years as far as he’s concerned.”
Father Michael looked at me, sadly. It was obvious he felt sorry, that I blamed myself for that.
“It is not a crime not to cry, Ada. Everyone grieves in a different way. Some people cry, others smile,” he said. Horrified, I looked at him. He nodded and said: “They laugh, because they perhaps think of something funny the deceased said or did or the person had an amusing foible. Somewhere deep inside of you the feelings for your father still exist, but they are covered by a thick layer of disappointment and sadness. That makes it difficult to feel sorrow or that you miss him. Maybe one day you are able to mourn. And the death of a person is not just the end of something. It’s also the beginning of something new.”
He had no idea how much his words hit the mark, because my father’s day of death was also my daughter’s birthday and that of the Father.