There is nothing unusual about the electricity going off in Africa; however, something special happened one night when it went off. Sometimes it takes the lights going off for me to notice important things about those I love.
Life stops for no one, it just slows down once in awhile so that I gain a proper perspective. The sad thing is I often struggle with the slowing down and want to rush on ahead. When I rush I miss the opportunity to discover priceless truths about those around me.
The electricity had been off most of the day and it hadn’t come on when it was time to go to sleep. The humidity made it so easy to feel uncomfortable. I kept tossing and turning, attempting to find a better position. When I rolled from my back to my side, my back peeled itself away from the sheets and then my side re-attached itself firmly to the bedding.
I could hear everything so clearly: the night sounds, the next door neighbors. I listened to my husband’s rhythmic breathing. He was still awake.
Listening to his breathing, my mind wandered back to a short feature film I had seen earlier that day. “Jacob's Harvest” was a simple film about a family struggling to come to terms with various problems and trials. There were two brothers featured and one always appeared to be getting the short end of the stick because he was the more responsible one. He seemed to be missing out on life because of his strong sense of duty and obligation.
At one point in the film the old farmer asked his adult son "It's not easy always being the responsible one, is it?"
Lying there in the darkness thinking about what that man had said, tears slipped down my cheeks. The farmer’s words made me think of my husband. He has always been the responsible one; never running away from what he needed to do. He had many opportunities to do easier jobs. He had chances to escape hardships, but he always chose to stick with what needed to be done. I cried for the many times that he plodded through life not getting proper recognition or praise when he actually deserved it.
Rolling over, I touched his arm lightly and he responded immediately, turning towards me.
"I saw something today that moved me."
"What was that?"
In the retelling of that particular part of the film, I told him of how it reminded me of him. I said, "I know it isn't always easy for you to be the responsible one. I just want you to know that I appreciate you and I’m proud of you. I love you for everything you have done and continue to do. You could easily give up on everything and walk away, but you don’t. Thank you."
Not saying a word, he reached over and touched my face. I couldn't see his eyes in the dark, but I could feel him looking at me. After what seemed like an eternity, he said, in his usual practical way, "Thank you so much for understanding."
No more needed to be said, except to say goodnight. More words would have cluttered the moment.
I realized I had never really seen him as I saw him right then. My heart burst at the seams with pride for him. That picture of him has stuck with me. He is absolutely the best man I have ever known. He has taught me so much just by his life and the way he lives it.
The electricity went off long enough for me to slow down and really see this man who lay next to me night after night.