The Mass moved into the last stage, with many in the church stepping forward to accept Holy Communion, including the Buckleys.
But Kathleen did not get up. She sat, looking straight ahead. Her expression hardened as she watched her husband’s family piously communing with God despite their adulteries and cunning business deals.
There stood her brother-in-law, Philip, standing straight as an arrow, holding out his hands to receive the symbolic body of Christ. Kathleen knew Philip’s sudden sanctity was only for show. Even Scott, who took great pride in swinging a sweet deal whenever he could, was suspicious of Philip.
Then there was Jessica, whose string of well-muscled paid-off studs was the constant talk of Sedona. Kathleen once heard Jessica referred to as the slut of Sedona, a comment that did not surprise her considering Jessica’s voracious sexual appetite.
And then there was Natalie. Kathleen marveled how easily her youngest step daughter could receive communion when everyone in the community knew she left the church years ago to embrace New Age philosophies.
A wash of hopelessness enveloped Kathleen. The Buckleys only worship at their own temples, she thought. Only money and power make a difference to them, not God.
As the crowd began to leave the church, Kathleen stayed in her pew with Charley and her mother, not wanting to talk to anyone. Her friends from the newspaper offered their condolences, and Carrie and Marlene said they would wait outside for her.
When the church emptied, the three of them walked up to the closed casket. Kathleen brushed the side of it with her hand, noting how cold it was, like the body inside. She stood there for a moment, reflecting on her life with Scott Buckley.
Despite all the outward appearances of being married to a wealthy, charming man, it had been an empty, loveless life. Feeling exhausted, she realized the years spent with him were wasted, leaving no real meaning. The countless social events to raise money for the local symphony or arts center, the dinner parties to impress some big shot, and the political machinations behind the scene that were so important to Scott brought nothing of import to the grave.
All she wanted for herself was to find peace. She felt shamed by her behavior during Mass, crying uncontrollably, not for Scott, but for herself. Kathleen silently vowed that she would never cry like that again.
“Let’s get out of here,” she said to her family.
As they walked outside, Father O’Malley stood alone by the door. The priest seemed hesitant to approach her, so she walked up to him.
“Thanks, Father, for mentioning my name. I know that was a hard thing for you to do, considering the mere mention of my existence might affect Philip Buckley’s donation to the church.”
“Kathleen…” the priest began, but she cut him off.
“Never mind, Father. I don’t need any explanations. If anyone knows how things work in this town, I do.”
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