It was the mornin’ of Patches’ funeral and it was rainin’ somethin’ fierce. It was like the heavens had been disemboweled and the rain was pourin’ blood all over the land. I carefully wrapped Patches’ dress and put on my slicker and rode to the church where the funeral director was meeting me. Fern’s Bend is a small town, so our church doubled for a funeral parlor during terrible times such as these.
I delivered Patches’ dress and knelt in front of the alter before the pulpit basking in the dim shadow of the large cross that hung like the sun in heaven. In the past it always gave me hope. Now I was drawing on that hope as I prayed like I never had before pouring my entire soul into my hopes and reserves of faith. “Just let my little girl come walking out here back to me. Just let her live like Lazarus.” I spoke softly over and over, believing it with all my heart and soul that my Lord would not forsake me. Three hours passed and there was nothing but the sound of my beating, breaking heart.
Each passing second was that of a knife being sank into my soul. I thought the darkness and despair could sink no further, and then another second would tick away and I would have to grasp with the reality on how wrong I was. The clock struck eleven, the time of my beloved Patches’ funeral, I was hardly distinguishable between a walking corpse myself, shuffling numbly to the travesty I must now attend. My God had forsaken me. My faith was shattered and I was alone in the world.
It was time to go. All I could afford was a graveside service and with the storm practically on top of us, most of the town would surely stay home. I walked to my wagon feeling nothing. The wind was now whipping like the wrath of God himself was descending down upon us. My hat flew away as soon as I stepped outside. I didn’t even bother to chase it. God had taken everything else away from me. Why not take my hat as well? Let him have it all, the selfish uncaring bastard.
At the grave, a small tent had been placed to provide shelter to those who attended, but with the way the rain was slamming down sideways, there was no shelter to be found. I watched as the reverend approached with the six men he had recruited to be pall bearers carrying Patches behind him. No one else came to mourn for my daughter. It was my own private Hell, just me and the reverend.
The reverend came up to me and muttered something about his deepest sympathies, but I really didn’t pay attention. All I could think about was my baby being put into the cold, dark ground. I was told I could take a seat, but I decided to stand. No matter how the wind tried to knock me over, I would not fall, I would not falter. I would pay my respects and grieve on my own two feet.
Reverend Ingalls tried to open his Bible, but the wind made that all but impossible. He eventually just closed it and started doing his sermon. “It is dark times like these, that we are reminded of how precious life is. We will never know God’s plan or why young Patty was taken away from us so young, but God is good, and he will heal all our wounds and wipe the tears from our eyes.”
I should have kept my mouth shut, but I looked at the elderly Reverend Ingalls and snarled, “God is good?” My voice raised to near a scream. “God is good? Are you seriously going to try and sell me that sack of horseshit while I’m puttin’ my baby girl in the ground?”
The look on the reverend’s face was that of pure terror. I could tell he was looking for the words to calm my spirit but I didn’t want calmed. I didn’t want his false hope. If he was gonna tell me about how “good” his God was, I was gonna tell him exactly what I thought.
“The fever took my wife two years ago. Where was your God? My baby was murdered at the age of thirteen, before she was even a woman. Where was your God? I’ll tell you where! He was sittin’ on his ass watchin’ while everythin’ in my world was taken away from me. You tell me God is good, well I say what kind of ‘good’ God would allow such horrors to happen? You tell me to worship God, to fall down on my knees and praise him even in the dark times when He allowed these dark times to happen. Reverend, fuck your God!”
Not another word was spoken. The reverend simply shook his head and walked away. I stood there in the rain as they shoveled the dirt upon my baby’s coffin. With every thud of earth landing on top of her, my rage against God grew and my sorrow became greater than the storm that was beating down upon us. On that day, my heart grew cold and a part of me died. I would never bow my knee to God again.