They walk up the dirt path close together, swaying toward each other for comfort, their steps slowing down and speeding up in turn. Speeding up at the thought of seeing their Jesus once again. Slowing down when the ache in their chest reminds them that only his body awaits. They each carry a jar of sweet-smelling oil, and some soft, white cloths. It’s a last, small service for the man who had truly seen them, the one who changed them with a few words and the look in his eyes.
Neither woman speaks, save in broken murmurs, sentences dying away half-formed, when they realize that their words don’t matter anymore, even to themselves. The sobs have passed for now, leaving only a shocked, bewildered daze. One woman is dry-eyed, painfully so, like every last drop of moisture has been cooked away in the kiln of grief. The other is liquid, with an unending supply of tears building up in her eyes and spilling down her cheeks. And yet they plod on toward the grave, with the terror of yesterday behind them, and the grief of today and the rest of their lives looming in front of them. The path winds around a small hill, and they are gone.
A few minutes later, the other woman walks slowly down the path. She takes deep, gulping breaths. Her dry, haunted eyes have filled up with wonder. She watches the rising sun like she’s never seen it before. She stands tall and majestic in the dawn light, paused there in the middle of the path, lifting her empty hands up, up, like they could hold the sun. “He is alive!” she whispers to the sun, the air, the birds of the morning. And then the tears finally spill, but she doesn’t notice. She starts again down the path, steps strong and sure, and her whispered words deepen and echo, taken up by the birds and the dawn and time itself. He is alive!