How Do I Get Through One Night Without You?

I remember the night I first told you I loved you. It was hot, and so muggy we could almost taste the river that was rolling by beneath the bridge we were perched on, despite the fact that this area was supposedly in the depths of "winter".

The bridge had washed out just before we had arrived in late September. We went for a walk to check it out on our second or third day there, and this is when I noticed a marvelous thing about the country I had so recently entered: people here had time. They had time to come, and stand, and see the proof of water's power rolling by through the remains of what had once been a sturdy stone bridge. Also, no one was in a rush to repair it. I think it was completed just before I returned home, five months later.

We were in a bubble, I know. Working in a school--already a small, enclosed environment--was made more cocoon-like by the fact that you and I were the only white people in an area where light skin was rare--and envied. With no one else to confide in, you were the one I turned to as counselor and friend as I struggled with the entanglements of loving a man who was not right for me--like a butterfly struggles to free herself from the beautiful gossamer strands of a spider's web.

But were it not for that cocoon that forced us to befriend each other, would I have ever seen you as you are? Would you have ever taken so much time to get to know me? Would we have had a relationship half so honest? Somehow, I think not.

I admired you, this you know--your servant's heart; your willingness to follow God's call to the ends of the earth; your willingness to lead, even though you did not ask to. You were the man I thought was too good for me. And even though I thought you would never be interested in someone like me, I slowly realized that if the type of man I wanted was someone like you, why would I marry someone without the qualities I admired so much?

My situation was messy. Although I went home with about 50 pounds less luggage than I brought over there, the baggage I carried within me had only gotten heavier.

Somehow, you had managed to maintain a friendship with me, even after my awkward confession of love to you two months before. I respected you for it all the more. Somehow, our friendship continued on for another year and a half with me loving you with a passion that would not waver, and you knowing it but maintaining a friendly distance.

You, more than anyone, knew what issues my heart had to work through. And then, when I had finally begun to heal, you were surprised by issues of your own.

When you finally came to my father and asked for permission to court me, I knew that a heart that had taken so long to love would not be easily swayed. Over the years that have passed since then, you have repeatedly shown me how you have never regretted the decision you made.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. I can see it flowing in the current of our lives, bringing with it surprises good and bad. When our lives are so busy that it feels like our bridge will wash out, I love that we occasionally take the time to step back and watch it.

And I love that instead of feeling our way along on opposite sides of a broken heart with words that are desperately inadequate, we now sit in companionable silence--me leaning against your chest, enjoying the mingled scents of trees and water and you--watching it together.