Choking back sobs, panic twisted Mary’s stomach into knots as the bile gushed up. She broke free from the hands that were attempting to restrain her and dropped to her knees while clamping her hand over her mouth. She squeezed her eyes tight in an attempt to block out the grisly scene of her son’s body.
Her good friend, Lydia, helped her to her feet and guided her into the safety of the house. Sitting down next to Mary, Lydia held her hand and clicked her tongue softly. "There, there dear. You've been through such a horrific shock. Just take some deep breaths and try to relax."
Wiping away the tears, Mary repositioned herself in the chair. "Oh, he was a beautiful baby. The first time I held him I envisioned that he was destined for great things -- people would speak his name for years and children would look up to him.
“When his father died, he did his best to take care of me.” Mary snorted and shook her head. “Until he met those friends of his…. I tried to encourage him to stay home and not gallivant all over the countryside. It didn't look proper. People gossiped and started to resent him. And look what happened -- you don't see any of his buddies now, do you?"
Lydia handed her friend a cool cloth. "They were a popular bunch. Crowds flocked to them until… you know.” Lydia lowered her eyes. “I never would have guessed it would end like it did. No parent should lose a child, my friend. Oh, what a bitter pill ‘tis to swallow."
Mary jumped up and started pacing back and forth. Sounds from the street pulled her to the window. She shivered as she saw the crowd milling around. There were so many people trying to grab a peek of the grieving mother. Motioning toward the window, Mary shook her head. "Look at them; they're like vultures pining for a taste of blood. Why can't they leave me to plan my son's funeral? Not one of his friends offered to help me."
Gently guiding her by her elbows, Lydia steered her friend away from the gawkers. "Oh, dear sweet friend, I'll help you in every way I can. You're not alone. Sit now and relax; remember the good times."
Mary's lip quivered as a faint glow washed over her face. "Oh, he was a smart one. From the time he started toddling about, he had a thirst for knowledge. He would ask questions that made me stop and think, but all the while he already knew the answers."
Lydia handed her friend a cup of tea and nodded, encouraging Mary to continue. "Oh, I'm not saying he didn't have his moments. He could be a mischievous little tot, but even in the midst of a trick his little eyes would sparkle. Oh, how proud his daddy was. He had big plans for the boy, believing he would be a natural to follow in his father's footsteps." She paused to stifle a sob. "Then the last three years, he became a different person." Mary stopped and glanced over her shoulder before whispering, "Actually, it pleased me to see him helping others. Sure I fretted some. I knew the government wouldn't be happy but I never anticipated this.”
Covering her face with her hands, she shook as she sobbed. After the tears had been all cried out, Mary lifted her head. "Next week, he would have been 33 years old. It feels like yesterday when I was holding him in my arms. His father and I knew he needed a special name, a name worthy of greatness.
“We discussed many different options but when his father suggested naming him Judas, I knew it was perfect for him. I envisioned people announcing his name with reverence. However, now he will always be considered a traitor. People will speak his name with hatred. Oh Lydia, supporters of Jesus will run me out of town. I don’t know what I’m going to do. Already I feel the walls closing in. I’m terrified."
Lydia shushed her friend as she brushed her hair from her face. "Don’t worry; Jesus taught love and understanding. Besides, this will blow over soon. Before you know it, people won’t even connect his name with Jesus."
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