Thursday, January 23
Kulosaari Church, 10:10
This morning the school were holding two memorial services for Auo, one for the smaller children and one for her peers. We had intended ignoring them but Irma woke up wanting to go to the second one. I had misgivings but agreed to go too.
The service was rich with contradictions. The priest did not know Auo and spoke in the most general of terms, using Helsinki slang to be down with the kids, which Irma hates under any circumstances, let alone this one. Auo herself had never been to church; was loud in her complete disbelief in god and amazement at what other people could bring themselves to believe; and when asked earlier in the year where she thought people went when they died, replied in an irritated voice “they don’t go anywhere, they just stop!”
I sat there imagining her sitting at the back of the church rolling her eyes.
Afterwards we talked with Maria, the school rector, who said that our visit yesterday had been of great comfort and help to Auo’s friends. This, at least, made me happy that I had attended. She gave us more cards, writings and drawings that Auo’s class had done for us. In one of them I learned for the first time that her own personal nickname for herself was platypus. Who would have guessed?
Now we are walking away from the church past the bell tower that stands on its own in the sun.
Later we will go to Itis to fix Irma’s watch, and I will finally answer some of my mail from the last week – not all, yet, but some. I will have a brisk forty five minutes walk, taking an entirely different rout from yesterday. I will arrive back home realising that I need to find my thicker winter gloves.
Shortly after this Naa will arrive home from school.