Immediately her dad replied: “I’ll ring for an ambulance, go and sit with her. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
Dad hung up, leaving Nisha shaking in the hall. A groan came from behind her and she turned to the huddled form of her aunt. What could she say? She didn’t know what to do. But then she remembered. The cross.
“Auntie Spardha, look!” she whispered, placing one hand on her Aunt’s arm and showing the cross and chain with the other. “I found it, in the church garden as we were digging for Easter.”
“Sweet child,” her Auntie whispered back.
The ambulance’s siren could be heard coming along the road just as dad came through the door. Rahul hailed the ambulance as he ran past the gate, followed by Matthew.
“Nisha, you meet the paramedics then you wait here. I’ll let you know when I’m out.”
Glad to be able to do something constructive, Nisha ran out waving frantically at the vehicle. It wasn’t long before Dad and Auntie Spardha were in the ambulance and travelling to the hospital, leaving Nisha standing in the hallway. The Easter garden still needed finishing and she needed a distraction. Matthew was already there, digging the last of the weeds out. Nisha lugged up the box of plants.
“Who’s that?” he stopped, looking at the figure of a man on a wooden cross
“Have you not heard of Jesus?” replied Nisha. “The cross? It’s Easter, you know...”
But Matthew didn’t know. It was the second time this day he’d heard about a cross. Nisha told him the story of Jesus dying on the cross, about how much God loved us even when we did wrong things. Matthew saw the hurt in his dad leaving, his mum dying.
A large bunch of primroses, shining brightly in the mid-day sun, were nestling in a cluster of bindweed; the yellow flowers and green leaves splayed out to every side. As Matthew looked more closely he could see that they were covering a homemade cross which lay there.
“Primroses!” he gasped, as he fell to his knees and buried his face in amongst the sweet fragrance. “And another cross!”
This last came out as he choked and shook; overcome by great waves of emotion he could not speak as he cried away many tears of pain and rejection. Nisha knelt beside him, not knowing what to say and after a while the outpouring ceased.
“Primroses,” the boy whispered. “A cross, me mam....I don’t understand.”
“What I don’t understand,” Nisha ventured to say, as she still knelt there in the wet muddy grasses. “Is why we didn’t notice those primroses earlier. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen that cross.”
But Matthew wasn’t really listening. At the other end of the Easter garden was a simple stone structure; it looked like a cave with a large stone leaning to one side of the entrance.
“What’s tha’?” he whispered hoarsely, pointing at the cave that Nisha had made earlier that day.
“Oh, that’s Jesus’ tomb,” said Nisha. “He was in there but he’s not now.”
Images of the three crosses passed through Matthew’s mind.
“Jesus was on the cross in the picture by the church gate, but he’s not on the wooden cross we’ve just found and he’s not on your Auntie’s cross. He’s not in this cave thing either. So if he’s not in any of those places, where is he?”
Feeling agitated and spent he turned an accusing glare at his friend as she sought for the words.
“Jesus died on the cross, but he’s not there now, and he’s not in the tomb....he’s in heaven. But he’s here as well if you want him to be.”
Matthew looked puzzled. Who was this Jesus she spoke about? How could he be in heaven and here too? But somehow, Matthew felt for the first time since him mum died, a little lighter.