End Game

My dead son lies in my arms. I should be wailing for him, but every inch of me is dry. My throat is closed, my eyes swollen. All day, standing in the hot sun, watching, watching. I can on longer speak, or wail or cry.

I prayed as I have never prayed before – ‘God, let him go fast, let it be over soon for him.’ I prayed for my son to die. Part of me, terribly, did not want him to die, not even then. Part of me wanted to go on standing in the baking sun, hurting so much that I did not know how I stayed alive, and he wracked, past screaming by then, ragged breath dragged in and out, flies settling on him – a tiny part of me wanted to go on like that, just so he and I were still alive on the same piece of ground. But the rest of me wanted it over, and I prayed and prayed for his death.

I offered God everything, in saying yes. I knew I did. And he took it, and he kept on taking. He has taken everything, and he has only left me pain. I don’t know how I keep breathing when the pain is as great as this. How can God do that? I did not think he would do that.

My son was so beautiful when he was a little boy, so beautiful. He always feared physical hurt so terribly; to think he ended like this, his life torn out in agony. And soon I will lose even his poor body. Important serious men are waiting to take even that from me. John is standing, water in his hands. How can I drink, and relieve my thirst, when my son had been so thirsty and I could not give him water?

Yet John will take my precious son from me, and he will walk me away, and make me drink, and wash my filthy body, and I will do it because I promised, and my promise was the only thing I had to give, the only tiny comfort. At the end, as at the beginning of it all, my promise was the only thing I had to give. I have given everything, and I have nothing left to give.

10 thoughts on “End Game

  1. I made an exception this time – the story is from the gospel for Good Friday, and not for the Sunday.

  2. There was a time when one of my children was very very ill. She could have died at short notice at any point over some long time. For all of that time the only religious figure I could bear to look at was Mary, because she, too, had watched her child suffer. I have always believed it was she who drew my gently back to her son.

  3. Thank you for this Rosemary. It’s so moving. And thank you for sharing where some of your thoughts on Mary came from. It’s a stark reminder of what all of this means.

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