The clouds had overtaken him, and his friends stood there, breathless, still squinting their eyes to see what was already gone.
He took his hand from his brow, and his eyes came to rest on the brown, green earth. A breeze tickled his ear. The call of a gull in the distance reminded him of how silent it was. His eyes met the red dot of a ladybug crawling along a blade of grass. How silly that it didn't know what had just happened here. He puffed a single chuckle through his nostrils, and wiped his eyes of what was left of his tears. The ladybug crawled on.
His mind was filled to overflowing, and what spilled out came in tears. What now? he thought. He felt another swell begin from his gut, rising up through his throat and out through his eyes. How can we do this? It's too big! And he's gone! It's too big, and you're gone!
Memories and connections came to him in a rush. Things that didn't make sense, but now seemed to lurch toward meaning.
He saw his friend falling as he carried the cross, and he could hear him crying out. He saw him holding a prostitute, and sobbing with her. He saw him holding a drunk and laughing with him. He saw him carrying the cross. And he remembered the slow thrumming of his heart, when he had leaned upon him at supper. He saw him carrying the cross. He saw him smile as he spoke to them just moments ago. “Go...” he'd said.
The ladybug began to stretch its hidden wings, and suddenly flew upward with the faintest trill.
It was then that he saw the man standing beside him. He was dressed in white, with his face to the sky, and John could have sworn he wasn't there just a second ago. He looks Samaritan, he thought absently. But he's got familiar eyes. John realized he was staring, but before he could turn his gaze, the man looked at him and smiled. He smiled back. “Do I know you?” was on the tip of his tongue.
The man kept smiling and looked back up into the scarcely clouded sky. “What are you staring at the sky for, fellas?”
John could almost hear the whooshing of a hundred heads turning. Peter said, “Are you kidding me?”
But the man just smiled again. “This Jesus,” he said, “who's been taken from you, into heaven, will return in just the same way.”
Then he was gone.
The air was electric and silent. The communal gasp seemed to have emptied it of oxygen. Peter was the first to speak. “Holy...!”
John began to laugh. His brother James caught his eye and started a low chuckle that gained momentum. The laughing brought tears to his eyes, and he hung on to his brother. He saw Jesus again, in a hundred moments, and the meaning of it all swept over him. It's a comedy, he thought. It's a comedy.