THE FUNERAL IS WELL ATTENDED, THE NEW HEIDELburg Lutheran Church packed to capacity with farmers and their families who have come to bid farewell to one of their own. Since every seat is full, they also line the walls and crowd the vestibule. The men are comically unfamiliar in dark suits; they don’t get this dressed up for regular services. The women, however, wear what they do every Sunday no matter what the weather, skirt-and-sweater sets with hose and pumps. Their parkas, which are puffy and incongruous and signify the imminent return to life’s practicalities, are their sole concession to the cold. And it is cold. December in Minnesota is a bad time to have to bury a loved one, Trudy Swenson thinks. In fact, it is quite impossible. The topsoil is frozen three feet down, and her father will have to be housed in a refrigeration unit in the county morgue until the earth thaws enough to receive him. Trudy tries to steer her mind away from how Jack will look after several months in storage. She makes an attempt to instead concentrate on the eulogy. But she must be suffering the disjointed cognition of the bereaved, for her thoughts have assumed a willful life of their own. They circle above her in the nave, presenting her with an aerial view of the church and its inhabitants: Trudy herself sitting very upright in the front row next to her mother, Anna; the minister droning on about a man who, from his description, could be any fellow here; the deceased looking dead in his casket; the rest of the town seated behind Trudy, staring at the back of her head. Trudy feels horribly conspicuous, and although she means her father no disrespect, she prays only for the service to be over. Then it is, and the congregation rumbles to its feet and stands in expectation. Trudy realizes that they are waiting for her and Anna to depart the church ahead of everyone else, as is proper. She pauses to mumble a final good-bye to Jack; then she takes Anna’s elbow to help her from the pew. Anna allows Trudy to guide her past the ranks of impassive faces, but once they are outside she folds her arms to her sides and forges on alone. The two women take tiny cautious steps over the ice to Trudy’s car.
Those Who Save Us - Jenna Blum.mobi (518.6 KB)