Arm tired from shaking so many hands, the man nodded at the woman. Her sympathetic expression matched the grief of her black dress and the furled eyebrows of her husband. Their deepest condolences given, they made their way to the pews.
The church was solemn. Its quiet and somber mood reflected by it's many blackened veils. The man took his seat, wiping away the sweat under his collar with a handkerchief. A hand on his shoulder squeezed and patted him. He nodded, lightly squeezing the hand back without turning to face its owner. As the ceremony began he zoned out, his own thoughts pushing away reality.
Hands clasping and kneading his fingers together, he bowed his head. Unsure, he tried to pray. But the words only echoed in the emptiness of his mind. No reply or sudden inspiration burst into his world. It was unpleasant, but he kept trying. Alternating between his vain thoughts and going over parts of his speech. It wasn't long before the pastor called on him.
Standing alone, he grasped the pulpit's edges while he stared at the words in front of him. Taking a breath, he began his rehearsed speech. An odd calm lay across his shoulders. Despite the amount of tears she'd during his writing, and the salted stains on the note he was reading from, he could not cry. His expression instead an impassionate wall. His voice, without shaking, a bludgeon to his delicate words.
Aware of his faulting delivery, he searched inside to find that feeling. The one time he needed his sadness, it failed to come. Nearing the end of the paper, he twisted his face and paused to blow his nose. An act, but the best he could do without insulting the memory of the dead. Finished, he sat back down after shaking the pastors hand. Once again, the hand squeezed his shoulder, and this time, he bowed his head and cried. Not just for the body in the coffin, but for his inability to mourn and the piece of him that had died with their passing.