This year we continued a tradition we started last year: traveling around our city, visiting churches, and remembering our Malina, who we lost two years ago.

We’re not particularly religious people, and the faith of our families has not been much help in seeking solace after the death of our first daughter. Yet, like it or not, it’s embedded in our identities. Churches have become important places in our travels together, they’re the pins in our map. We visit them to understand where we’ve landed.

We were in the right place this year for public displays of grief, in a country that’s well practiced at grieving. Our private mourning coincided with a very public, large-scale mourning in the aftermath of a recent national tragedy. Churches were filled with flowers and preparing for funerals. Almost none of these churches offered votive candles, so we paid our respects, offered whatever light we could muster, and left some change.

1.  an unassuming church in our neighborhood

2. Only electric candles here. Lit at the altar to the patron saint of hopeless causes.

3. A baroque interior, a silent organ, and in a corner a flag-draped casket awaiting a funeral.

4. Patron saint of (take your pick) lost things, barrenness, pregnant women and travelers.

5. A quick prayer in front of the morning cleaning crew.

6. Gothic brick. Vaulted ceilings. Visiting scouts pay tribute outside in red socks.



7. Angel eyes, the kind you can’t meet. A second St. Anthony.

8. Height and light.

9. Soul, spirit, ghost.

10. Once used as a hospital, now white, bare and simple.

11. Final church, on my favorite square in the city.

12. A candle for Malina at the end of the day, in a quiet corner in the center.

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