Ch.1 Part 1
The elderly gentleman had assistance to the podium, still his progress was slow. His face was marked with profound sorrow, sorrow he shared with the thousand souls that filled the ancient cathedral. The collective grief was so poignant a small child cried out in fear. The boy’s mother, also on the verge of tears, succeeded only in making his sobs louder. The deep recesses around the speaker’s eyes softened. Despite a fragile appearance, his voice was strong and confident.
“Do not fret, Madam. Your child cries for us all.”
As though this admission weakened his defenses, his balance faltered. His young companion hurried to his side. “Monsieur Moravec!”
“I am well, Philippe”, mindless of reassurance, the young man offered a steadying arm which Moravec gripped tightly. Composing himself, he allowed his gaze to fall on the faces before him.
“There are some here who remember a time before Willem Ameslan. For many of us, though, such a time is unimaginable. It is that unimaginable time that we now face. I was little more than a babe when Father Ameslan found me. His compassion pulled me from the grip of death. I am not alone in such a memory, it is this shared memory that brings us together in our grief. I see in your faces that we also share confusion and shock over our departed father’s decision. I am ashamed to say that when he asked that I speak on his behalf, I refused. In his last moments he pleaded with me to reconsider, it was at that time I understood what it was he wished from me. My own selfish nature blinded me to the burden he carried.
My purpose here is not to remind us of his kindness and generosity. Words pale next to the living evidence of these traits. Each one of us is a tribute to his life, yet we are also reminders of his final contradiction. How could one who valued life so deeply request that his life end? It was in his passing that I found the answer.
I am here to say what he could not say. He could no longer bear the grief of those he could not save. When he knew he could no longer continue on, he was further burdened with guilt at abandoning those who had survived. He left this world believing he had betrayed us. He wished for me to deliver his apology.”
The grieving crowd sat in stunned silence, but only for a moment. Outraged protests and denials thundered around the stone walls. Raw emotion rippled through the sea of voices.. As swiftly as it came, their anger dissipated when Moravec uttered the words that had comforted them as children.
“Be at peace, My Angels, all is as it should be.”