Magdalen Islanders leave Lapierre family funeral filled with sense of hope
'When a tree is shaken by the violence of winds ... it takes refuge in its roots': priest at Lapierre funeral
As Father Claude Gosselin described it during his funeral homily, it's "incomprehensible" that the day after "Papa" Raymond Lapierre died, a plane crash would take away four of his children — Martine, Marc, Louis and Jean — as well as Jean's wife Nicole Beaulieu.
And yet Madelinots, as residents on the Magdalen Islands call themselves, have found a way to keep going, and even to find hope.
"When a tree is shaken by the violence of the winds and its life seems threatened, it takes refuge in its roots," Father Gosselin told the crowded Saint-François-Xavier du Bassin Church during Friday's funeral service.
"That's what we've been living in our family and in our community for the past week: We all have the reflex to go home … to nourish ourselves from the comfort that comes from being together — as if to save our lives with love."
That love is tangible on the islands as the tight-knit community mourns alongside the Lapierre family.
One woman I speak with tells me she's a single mother, and she can't imagine what "Maman Lapierre" is going through after losing her husband and four children.
Anick Gaudet says her four-year-old son Justyn feels the impact of the tragedy.
Earlier this week, the local community radio station made a tribute to the family by broadcasting ringing bells followed by a minute of silence.
Justyn's daycare tuned in to listen, and Gaudet says her son turned to his friends and said, 'Listen, listen, it's the bells for the people who died. For the plane.'
Gaudet says as her son grows up, she knows he'll always remember the day of the crash.
The day before the funeral, Madelinots bent against the wind as they streamed into the visitation at the Leblanc Funeral Home.
Nearby, I was scrambling up the Cap-aux-Meules, searching for a lookout to photograph the maritime village.
The sky was darkening, the waves were crashing against the shoreline, and as I stood there, bracing myself, I noticed the halo of a rainbow (or technically a parhelion) in the sky.
The next day, at the funeral, the weather has worsened.
Inside the church, Father Gosselin offers comfort.
"Our brothers and sisters will not have died in vain if we receive the life that they've given in the ultimate sacrifice of their lives. They've led us to the divine source of love."
As the moving service comes to an end, Raymond Lapierre's surviving daughter addresses the crowd, thanking them for their support and love.
She says she wants to close the ceremony with a little wink to her dad, who taught his children to always look on the bright side.
As the wind whistles outside and the rain starts to patter, Laure asks the crowd to join her in singing You Are My Sunshine.
Hundreds of people, many now smiling and wiping away tears, burst into cheerful song.
And when I look beside me, down the last row of pews at the back of the church reserved for media, I notice my peers have forgotten their notes — and they're singing too.