Hildeburg closes her eyes again. Mesmerized, we watch her chest slowly rise and fall until she slips away. Loud weeping fills the chamber. I throw myself over Hildeburg’s body, as if I can warm her back to life. When we have no more tears, the sisters and I wash her body and prepare it for burial.
We keep vigil throughout the night. The next day, we move Hildeburg’s coffin to the church. Word spreads quickly. Everyone at the abbey—lay and cleric, monk and nun—comes to the church. My mother and I accompany Mother Abbess’s coffin into the crypt and place it by her uncle King Edwin’s remains, as she requested. When we leave the crypt, I feel the full weight of my responsibilities and understand why Mother Abbess withdrew to her hermitage at Hackness.
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