Good Friday: a code and a cross

I sat in the hospital room. In front of me, a person in a bed. Around her, a loud, active crowd. Beside me, an intent mother. The crowd was doing everything they could think of to give life back to a lifeless body. Long before the doctor said to stop, most of us knew that it wasn’t going to work. I knew. The mother knew. The doctor knew. The healthcare workers-in-training may not have known.

I say “long” only because fifteen minutes, twenty minutes, of compressions feels endless.


John stood on a hill on a road out of town. In front of him, a person on a cross. Around him, a loud, lounging crowd. Beside him, an intent mother. After doing everything they could to drain life from a living body short of mercy, the soldiers stood, watching. Mary, looking at Jesus, knew. So did everyone else staring at the cross. It was going to work.

That was the Friday of the first Holy Week.

I cannot see Mary’s eyes, see her hands clenching and relaxing, watch her look and turn away and look and turn away. And look.

My memory sees this mom, hears this mom. I spoke and listened. I offered what I knew.

“Your kids aren’t supposed to die first,” she said. I agreed, not telling her why I knew. I just agreed.

Amidst the theology, the “what it means for us”, the “Sunday’s coming”, there is the story of a mom watching an adult child die. Mary understood grief. There is an odd comfort in that. Or better, perhaps, an awareness that inside the page, between the lines, are people.

There will be Sunday in that story, and in mine. But jumping over Friday, skimming past the death and grief somehow robs the resurrection of reality.

2 thoughts on “Good Friday: a code and a cross

Comments are closed