this sickness is not unto death

People ask me about it all the time, but I have nothing to tell them. I was very ill; I closed my eyes and drifted away; I woke to the call of a friend’s voice, and when I realized I was bound in cloth all over — that was terrible — I flailed and rose and stumbled towards the voice. That’s all.

I hear that he told people that I was asleep, just asleep. Mary and Martha say that I was not, that he was using a figure of speech, as we do when we say that King David slept with his fathers. Maybe. But he said what he said.

Nothing much happened to me after that. When he returned to our house he was occupied by some kind of dispute involving Mary and Judas, which I had no part in. And soon thereafter he did what he came to do. Much later I was told that the chief priests who sought to kill him wanted to kill me as well, though I don’t know why, and in any case I was unaware of it at the time.

I was unaware of a lot in those days. My sisters tell me that I was preoccupied, distant. I suppose I was. Though as far as I knew I had simply slept for a few days, I had to learn again how to live in the light. Plus, I knew what was coming for our friend. It was hard to know how to speak to him then.

He was our friend. We know he loved us, as we loved him. But as his hour drew near, he seemed preoccupied with those who followed him everywhere he went. (We just stayed in Bethany.) I guess he had much to teach them and little time to do it. But when he came back — and I know he came back — he had time for them only. No time for us.

I guess what I’m saying is, no time for me. I kept thinking, We have something in common now. But maybe we don’t. Maybe his three days were wholly unlike my four. Maybe they didn’t involve sleep, weren’t like sleep. But whatever that experience was for him, I know this: he won’t have to do it again.

Sometimes I pass the tomb where I spent those four days I don’t remember. I’m generally not superstitious, but I don’t look too closely; and I certainly don’t go in. But one day I will. And what that will be like for me I don’t know any more than you do.