Every time I close my eyes, I see his blood. Dripping from his face, his hands, his back, his feet, down the unforgiving wood, dripping onto the dusty ground.
zzzipTHWAK. zzzipTHWAK. The whip arcs through the air. Shards of glass in the leather ends embed themselves in his back. The soldier yanks on his instrument of pain, raking the glass across his open wounds. I watch as the man under the whip falls onto his back. A spasm of pain flits across his face. zzzipTHWAK. The whip flies again and grabs his stomach. His mouth opens in a wordless scream.
“Mary? Mary, it’s time for the evening prayers.” John takes my hand, gently pulling me inside. I look up at him, his face blurry as my eyes fill with tears again.
“I can’t, John. I can’t pray.” I can hardly speak, the ache in my throat burns like a furnace at midday. “He’s gone. I can’t…” and the words are gone as the tears spill down my cheeks.
“My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” He screams out from the cross. The guards stand around, laughing. They don’t even hear his cry.
John opens his mouth, begins to speak. “Hear O Israel. The Lord is our God. The Lord, He is one.” The Lord. Where was he yesterday? Where was he as the Messiah died? Wasn’t he the one that ordained a Messiah for Israel? Wasn’t it in his mighty plan to redeem a people?
“Yahweh.” An anguished whisper drops from my lips. “Where were you?”
The sky is so dark. The wind is picking up speed, whipping at my clothes and hair. I have stood here for hours, holding his mother’s hand. She stares at her son, broken and bleeding, suspended between heaven and earth, silhouetted against the angry sky. I can see him open his mouth. He looks up.
“It is finished!” He screams it, pain lacing his words. And then his head drops.
No. God. No.
Mary clutches my hand, grips it so hard I begin to lose feeling in it. Then together we run to him. There is so much blood.
“Mary, you haven’t eaten all day.” I go to his mother, holding out some bread and olives. I haven’t eaten all day either. I can’t. I have swallowed too much sorrow and my appetite is gone. She shakes her head. Her eyes turn to me, reddened with grief.
“How could I eat?” Her voice is hoarse with weeping.
We tell Joseph of Arimathea that the Teacher has died. Joseph is rich and a member of the Sanhedrin. He has money and influence. He immediately tells Nicodemus. Nicodemus goes to buy linen, myrrh, and aloe, while Joseph goes to Pilate to beg for the body. His mother and I stay at the cross. The two thieves hung on the crosses flanking him are still alive. I can hear them sucking in air, each gasp punctuated by cries of pain. Joseph returns quickly. He says we can bury the body in his tomb.
We take him down off the cross gently, oh so gently. His mother strokes his swollen face, her tunic covered in his blood. She kisses his forehead. I kiss his feet.
“Quickly!” Joseph says. “The Sabbath is approaching!”
I am exhausted and weary beyond comprehension. But I cannot sleep. His body lies in a tomb, waiting to be anointed.
They killed him yesterday. They killed Jesus. And every time I close my eyes, I see his blood, dripping down.