Christians around the world have begun their celebrations.
Today is the day our Savior gave up His only life for us.
"Oh what a day!" we say.
"Good Friday" it is called.
But my God, it's so much more than that. And now I find myself lamenting at the knowing.
At the waiting. The watching. The counting of breaths, the bargaining with God. The begging for Him to come and for it please be over and then the guilt for the weight of that feeling.
And then...just even more waiting.
Jesus Himself walked through every single one of those emotions and more as the day unfolded. We read about it and it's evident. He speaks humanly, vulnerably. He expresses fear, torment, frustration, sadness, guilt, and more. And that's just Jesus.
We aren't really told of the emotions felt by those around Him who loved Him deeply. I would give anything to know their account, but then I realize-I really already do.
See, death takes it's time. Sometimes, it is in no hurry.
It is said that from the time that it all began that day until the time Jesus actually died there were at least 6 hours in between. Which in all actuality seems quick to me now that I have experienced death first hand and know that it can take much, much longer.
About 24 hours separated the time between when Mabel's body fully shut down to the time that she actually died. But because there is no true predictor of death, we didn't really know how long it would go on. In all reality, it could have been (and usually is) much longer.
At first there was thrashing of her body, even with medication that should have calmed her. The thrashing of her head and body lasted a full night, at least 8 hours. 8 agonizing hours.
It was absolute torture for me to watch. So I didn't. I prayed and I slept and I rested while she thrashed. I silently waited on death, pleading to God for my child.
"This was not the plan! Someone better find a way to make this stop for her. There has to be more we can do. She is not going to die like this. This must stop."
What happened to my daughter was natural death. The body thrashes and battles long after the brain no longer can. Signals misfire and the body reacts and it can be horrifying. But most death and all of the ugly parts that come with it are 'normal.'
We are fortunate to live in a time and in a world where there are medications to help bring comfort to the dying. The whole goal of hospice care and the whole purpose behind every one of my choices for my child was for this very reason. So eventually her body did tire. She thinned out overnight, and fell limp, her body also just awaiting death to swoop in and ease the burden. But not before the highest fever I had ever witnessed, and sounds I will never forget, and colors that make me want to vomit on days that mimic her skin in those hours.
But crucifixion? The most unnatural, brutal, guttural death?
There is nothing to ease the burden or bring comfort or stop the thrashing.
Not when that's the exact point--murder in the most inhumane way.
I can picture it vividly now, unlike I could before. The involuntary movements of His body and the sounds that must have escaped from His mouth. The sweat that fell, dirty, dripping with blood down the thirsty mouth of our Father, I can almost taste it.
I have witnessed the sweet release of death after suffering. I have felt the peace that overcame a room, and all at once, our life as I held my child across my chest, no longer feeling her breath next to mine. I have watched as the man who loved her more than himself placed her into the custom made child casket where her body would lay forever.
And because my child now lives with Jesus forever, on this Friday I am able to fully grasp the reason why He allowed it to be so when in all reality, He could have changed it all.
But, How could He have been our Savior if He hadn't known suffering? How could we bow to Him and honor Him if He did not fully understand?
He was dirty and naked and defiled and bleeding and broken and battered and shamed.
He lived in this foul and offensive world.
And rather than clinging to all that was here, He fully surrendered to death...
Because He knew it was the will of His Father, and because He knew it had to be.
And so did I.
Once again, Mabel was no Jesus. And I am no Jesus.
But I understand the purity behind the person in a way I wouldn't have been able to without my sweet girl. And the surrender it took for my heart to wait on, pray for and accept that death was part of the will of God and that it just had to be.
Mary stood beneath her son's body as the guards unclothed Him and hollowed out His insides before her very eyes. She watched as blood poured from His wounds and touched the earth with fierce, sacrificial love. She watched her child-the baby that she swaddled and nursed and the boy that she nurtured, laughed with, and loved, die for a world that tortured and contaminated all of who He was.
And I imagine that it was the most horrifying thing she ever had to do.
And yet, she did it. She too, was able to trust Him and surrender to the idea that ultimately it was good and right.
On this Good Friday, all I can think about is how brave Jesus was. And how brave Mary was. And I feel thankful and humbled that they chose to be so that in turn, I could be too.
This year, though, my heart is wrapped around tomorrow, the Saturday of the Easter story...