Good Friday

Looking through old files, for anything I ever wrote on the subject of Good Friday that might still have some value, however slight, I discovered nothing. Or rather, I discovered there is nothing I can say, worthy of Good Friday.

Here is something to add.

A neighbour, in his late eighties, coming to pieces in an almost literal sense from dysfunctional body parts, has been for the last decade or more cared for by his young wife. She, a spring chicken of seventy-five, has been through all this time in the pink of health. Jutta, let us call her, even Jutta Krueger: a discreetly ebullient woman, with humour to carry her nearly through any disaster, and patience for when the humour runs out, seeing her beloved husband through countless medical emergencies. How many times she had expected to lose him! But by some miracle of will, or grace, often unassisted by modern medicine, he kept coming home again, the odds beaten, and only a little the worse for wear. And his wife still — well, not smiling, for she a Berliner and her humour too dry for that. It is instead in the eyes.

I have seen pictures of those Berliners from the War. They were a bit like Londoners. Their houses would be bombed out — whether by the Luftwaffe, or by the RAF, the result was the same — and next morning they’d be tidying it up. Making a little “brick garden” out of the rubble. Tiles stacked here, beams stacked there, charred miscellaneous fragments organized. “The walls do not fall,” but they do shrink lower when the roofs cave in; at least make it neat. Jutta had a mother who could tell you the stories: but wouldn’t because she didn’t want to talk about it. Jutta herself remembered how things were, from when she was five. Das Leben geht weiter, I think they say. “Life goes on.”

And there is work to do. Jutta, taking care of her husband, keeping things neat, in a world that can become untidy — entropy, I think they call it — tending that brick garden of old age. The walls do not fall: but they provide nice borders.

And now, Jutta has dropped dead from a brain aneurysm. … No warning, just like that.

What can one say besides, “These things happen.” Or, “Lord have mercy.” Or as her husband must be thinking: Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?