I speak now of the Life After, which I can imagine, and not the AfterLife, which I cannot, although He spoke of it many times.
I look up at Him now, utterly broken, utterly weathered, and remember His pure skin, unblemished, coalesced with mine, when I was only a child myself.
I look up at Him now, as I have always looked up to Him, my son, my son, my beloved son. It is not a tree from which He hangs, as they will later say. He sags now lifelessly from blunt coarse logs, tied together with colonial compliance and boorish disconcern. My husband would be ashamed at such violent construction, if he were here.
He is not here.
What shall I do now? What shall I do? What shall I do now, in the Life After? How do I stand and walk from this site? Where are my legs, if His are broken?
My dear sister is shaking my arm, “Mary, Mary,” she calls from a seeming distance. “We must rise.”
I look down upon Him now. They have brought Him down, and I did not notice. He lies on the barren soil utterly soulless, as if forsaken, skin as ashen as sin.
I look down on Him now and I reach out to brush away the matted lock on His forehead. But I cannot; the thorns are coalesced into his skin. I cannot reach Him, my beloved son.
“Mary, you must rise,” she repeats. Yes. I must rise.
I must rise, I know. I must rise into the Life After. I do not know about this AfterLife of which He spoke. He told me there will be no brokenness there, in the AfterLife. All of this brokenness, all of this suffering, must be borne here, in the Life After.
It is for this He was born. It is for this I was so born as well. It is for this we are born, for suffering borne.
But I must rise.
Tomorrow I will bake bread. For the others will be hungry.
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Eileen McKeagney is a wife, mother, Catholic high school English teacher, daughter, sister, and lifelong writer. She lives in San Juan Capistrano, CA with her husband, who hails from Co. Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, and their three children. As a literature teacher, she gets to teach love stories, each and every day. In her spare time, Eileen is a minivan chauffeur for her children, makes a mean jar of homemade preserves in the summertime, and occasionally writes poetry and prose. Read more of her original work and learn more about her here.