The day we said good-bye, I imagined my arms pressed around his body one last time—because we knew none of us would be allowed to touch or to see him again. We knew years of his young life had been surgically removed.
I wept, not because of what they did to him, not because of the humiliations they heaped on him, not the terror, not the threats, not the torture. I wept because in my mother’s heart, I knew that what they had done to him had robbed him of his tongue.
His pallor told me that, as though the blood, had been drained out, as if to prepare him for burial. I could see his chest moving in the dim light of the room. But the person who breathed was no longer the one we knew.
It was as if they stood him in a circle with his betrayers and his mockers circling him, stoning him with their observance. I wanted to hold my ears and scream. But I did not. I wanted to tear my garments, but I remained sitting quietly, my hands folded in my lap. Everything, every word—it was as if every word had been erased, every word he spoke. Every life he touched had been cut away from him. Every deed annulled.
I wept because I no longer knew him. The one I loved existed still, but he existed in my heart. I weep for the spirit, the spirit that has been silenced, for the words, which have been crushed.
In my dreams I extend my arms to this pale young man—a stranger. He breathes, he is still one of us. I hold him to my heart with great love and great compassion. I comfort him, I dress his wounds.
He was twenty-six when we took him down from this cross. When I lost him, I wept. No matter what they did to him, he is still my son.