Good Friday

A gentle rustle and a cry from the crib woke me this morning. Last year it was a call.


Today is Good Friday; we've been watching it coming for weeks, but today it feels surreal and impossible. It’s April 15th, the day we lost my cousin to cancer a year ago.

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The day he passed was like a labor. I've thought that a million times. We held his hand. Rubbed his feet. Brushed his hair. We were doulas. We couldn't do this for him, but if anyone could ease it, I know my family tried.

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My labor comes on fast. The pains are bearing down on me, so that I have to remember to suck in breath, let it out. We barely get to the hospital. In the room, I crawl onto the bed on all fours. I close my eyes, because the pain is breaking me open and I feel afraid. I am trying to breathe, but it's hard. My hand is empty, and I yell for someone to fill it, hold me, help me, and in no time, I feel someone’s grasp. They turn me over, tell me I'm at an eight, and immediately, a fire cry bursts up from somewhere deep. I push harder than I ever have.

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We got a miracle that morning. My cousin's breathing had changed and we were singing songs, sure it was the end. And then he was awake. Breathing like himself again, calling us all by name, remembering things. The nurses were talking in low voices in the kitchen, unsure how this was happening. We gave him hugs, and he gave us words to hang onto. Commissioned us into the world as he was leaving it. He said, "you know you're coming here, to be with me," like he was already there. He often looked beyond us, and I wonder what he saw.

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It doesn’t take many pushes, but it feels long. I burn and breathe, burn and breathe. The doctor encourages me, “keep going. You’re going to feel a great relief.” They tell me he is here, and I push shoulders into waiting hands. Our boy breaks into the world. I take him on my chest, shaken and relieved. It’s over. He’s here.

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When he left I hardly knew it. It was so quiet. There was a game of baseball on the TV. His game, always. And then he was gone. Low cries, like riptides. An undercurrent of relief. We held each other’s hands, that day and after, and we remembered holding him.

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Good Friday is the day we remember Jesus’ death. It is good because it wrought good from pain and grief. It whispered of resurrection, but desolation was the cry that night. On Sunday we will sing. There will be drums and our hearts will nearly burst and the peace that passes will be unbelievable, as it always is. Yet it is right to mourn. To hold the graveclothes with incredulity, wondering, "how?"


How could He do this? And Who would choose this? It is good, impossibly good, because it means a miracle. But first it breaks us open. Even now the earth is laboring, bearing down, breaking open. We are all of us breathless, waiting. And don’t we know what it is to wait? When that waiting is longer than life? But into the dark there is a hand reached out. If we take it, desperate, it will save us.




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