Friday, November 02, 2012

On the Feast of All Saints...

It's 12:09 AM.

My husband and son are in bed, and the house is all dark except for the glow of my laptop screen.

I can't fall asleep yet because I'm still processing what I just witnessed.  And I'm blogging because I never want to forget it.

Today was the Feast of All Saints, and I realized again tonight that indeed I am married to one.  Or, if not that, then he is surely on his way to sanctification, for tonight I saw him take powerful steps up that path.

I am amazed by what I saw tonight, and it brings tears to my eyes.  They are joyful tears for the kind of man Michael is.  They are shameful tears for my selfish nature in comparison.  And they are sad tears for many people who are less fortunate than we are.

The day ended like this:  At 11:30 PM, I watched as my husband paused to give thanks to God for the cold slab of meat he was about to eat for dinner.  There was nothing with it because I had forgotten to think about a side dish or a vegetable.  And it was cold because I had heated it up so many times tonight that it had begun to burn as it waited for Michael to complete his work, which was nearly never-ending.  By 12:45 AM, he was finally in bed.  But, in just one or maybe two hours, he'll be up again, walking further on that path to sanctification.

The day started out like this:  Instead of the usual text message I get from Michael, assuring me that he's made it safely into work, I got a phone call.

In that phone call, he asked if I could do a huge favor for him.  And he promised that I could buy any handbag that I wanted, if I did it.  I could even get a new pair of jeans and that pair of boots I saw, he suggested.

I was grateful, but I brushed past it.  What did he really want?

"I know this is really inconvenient," he began, "But would you and Liam mind going to the Home Depot and bringing home a generator?  You can ask one of the workers to load it into the SUV for you."

He went on to explain that his colleague Mel was in urgent need of it in New Jersey.  All the hardware stores in her area were out of them due to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. 

"Sure," I said, and he thanked me profusely.  And then we hung up because he had a meeting to go to.

I wish I could tell you that my first emotion was anything but that which I experienced.  As I quickly dressed and prepared to get Liam into the car seat, it was jealousy that I felt -- and nothing else.  I imagined Mel to be a young, single, gorgeous knock-out whose beautiful legs would be dangling from the tree limb on which she sat as she waited for my husband to arrive and rescue her with this generator.  (This is absurd, of course, because generators don't get girls down from trees; ladders do.)

But then the Holy Spirit intervened.  God reminded me of the great trust that I have in my husband.  Indeed, I believe in him and the goodness of his heart.  And if he deems something to be important and require immediate action, I must believe in it -- and do it with him.  I must not let my silly, overactive imagination spawn jealous thoughts.

So I changed Liam's diaper, dressed him for the cold outdoors, and was about to load him into his car seat when the Holy Spirit intervened again.  My parents called, asking to come over; but, when I explained to them my impending departure, they volunteered to go to the Home Depot for me, since they happened to be so close.

As it turned out, there were no generators to be had in our area.  Home Depot had none.  Lowe's had none.  Local hardware stores had none.  Everyone was sold out, and nobody knew when they'd have more.  No other shipments were expected, they all kept saying.

Michael thanked me for trying.  And then he thanked me again hours later, with a call on his commute home.

But this time, he was joyful.  He was coming home with a generator, he explained.  It was so big that it filled his entire trunk.  He had driven to pick it up from another colleague's house.

The plan, he explained, would be to join Liam and I for the 7 PM Mass, and then he would depart for New Jersey to deliver the generator, a journey that would take a total of 6 hours, which I noticed would rob him of all of his night's sleep.  But how grateful I was that he would first give his time to his family and to his God.

All he needed was one more favor from me, he explained.  Would I mind calling my dad to have him meet us at our house at 8:15 PM so that Michael could have assistance loading the heavy thing from the trunk of our small car into the SUV?

Dad agreed, and before long, he and Michael were in our garage for nearly two hours with that generator, doing who-knows-what to get it ready.  But before that, Michael would hand me his cell phone, and on it I would communicate with Mel via text.

I imagined her hair and nails to look perfect as she texted me.

She had very little power on her cell phone, but she had just enough to insist that Michael NOT venture toward her tonight, explaining that the area becomes unsafe once night falls, as people pillage the land and siphon gasoline out of cars, since the wait at gas stations is 5 hours and none of the ATMs are working.  Flooded roads and no street lights meant that evening travel was wildly unsafe and prohibited by police.  My goodness.

But she gave her address, begged him to please come in the morning, and asked for as many blankets as we could spare, promising to return all of them once cleaned.

Although the generator, gasoline, and blankets were all that she asked for, I probed with a few more questions.  From this, I learned that there were seven of them huddled together in a dark, unheated house with icy cold flood water just a few feet beneath the floorboards.  It was Mel, her husband, her adult daughter, her daughter's boyfriend, two neighbors, and a dog.  Because they lived in this coastal town, there was destruction and devastation all around them.

I offered food, clean water, toilet tissue, and paper towels -- which she promptly said yes to.  Really, anything we could spare they would be grateful to receive.  Mel and her companions were (and are) cold, tired, hungry, and thirsty.  And some of them were getting sick.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.

I got the picture.  This was an urgent matter indeed.  For shame on me for being jealous initially!  Even if she were young and single, this plight to help was absolutely the right thing to do, I realized.

And then her phone died.

Michael and my father returned from the garage.  Their noses and cheeks were red from the cold, but they looked thrilled.  They had gotten the generator to work!

I told Michael of my text conversation with Mel.  So, instead of departing for New Jersey, he departed for Target, returning with many bags of groceries and a wool blanket for each person, but not before opening our cupboards and closets to give what we already had.

In the end, the SUV was packed full to the brim, the generator taking up the entire back section of our vehicle.  My parents even brought with them from home lots of toilet tissue, paper towels, gallons of water, food, and even duct tape.  All of it went into the SUV and all of it got safely covered by bed sheets so that nobody tries to hijack the mission when Michael gets into the area of devastation and destruction.

I pray hard for Michael now, knowing that he'll rise and leave at 2:30 AM, beginning the long, cold journey East.  He hopes to deliver the goods and then be on his way to WORK before anyone really notices.   He is so good, so humble!  So loyal to the people and obligations he has in life!

Yes, this is the man God allowed me to marry.  This is the man I absolutely must learn from.  This is the person that is decidedly my better half.

Please pray for his safety!  Pray especially that the smell of gasoline in the generator does not make him dizzy as he drives, for the SUV reeks of it.  Please pray heavily for Mel, her family, her friends, and all the victims of Hurricane Sandy.  And please pray that I might learn to be more like the saint that my husband already is.