The Senator exited through the visitor’s door. One of the agents stationed at the door fell into step beside him as he walked by. He knew his way through the building, but no one walked the corridors these days unescorted. He exited the building and walked to his car. Out of habit, the agent opened the driver’s door and closed it behind him after he got in. He could never get used to that. He would have preferred to handle the door himself.
He drove to the gates and they opened without a word. As he passed through the city on the way to his townhome, he went over his conversation with the President again and again in his mind, looking for what he might have said to make the outcome different. But he knew that no matter how many times he reviewed his words, there was nothing that could have changed the President’s mind.
He pulled into the garage, parked the car, walked up the stairs onto the main floor of the house and found his wife sitting in front of the TV with a glass of wine in her hand. She turned the screen off as he sat next to her on the couch and asked, “Would you like a glass of wine?”
“No, I’ll pass. Thanks anyway.”
She waited patiently for him to speak, but after a little while, when he did not, she ventured, “How do it go?”
He stared straight ahead, looking into the distance, well beyond the TV that was just a few feet in front of him. “As expected. He has his mind made up and no amount of conversation will change it. They see blood in the water and believe this is their chance to make a great leap forward in their agenda. Their hearts are shut to anything but increasing their power, and they do not realize that the opposition will never bend to their will. I don’t see that we have any choice.”
He turned to look at her. Even after more than thirty years of marriage, she still amazed him. How could he have been so lucky, so blessed? Still beautiful, she moved him in ways that no other woman ever had. She was her own person, intelligent, independent, strong, and capable. At the same time, she was also his wife, sensitive, dependable, vulnerable, and supportive. There had been moments of tension in their marriage, but never a time when their commitment to each other was truly in danger. To him, separation was unthinkable and although they had never discussed it, he knew she felt the same way. The connection between them was grounded in something more than human choice. It was grounded in the belief that they were made for each other. They knew instinctively and accepted unconditionally the notion that God had united them. It was His Will that bound them. It was His Love that sustained them individually and as a couple.
He knew he was often quieter than she would have preferred. There were times when she wanted to talk when he simply did not feel the need or did not have the words. He saw words as the source of much anger and angst in the world and he used them sparingly whenever possible. Sometimes that meant he did not speak when he should have. Her ability to accept and forgive this in him was one more thing that made her precious to him.
In the coming days, he knew he would have to speak many words, answer many questions, give many explanations for the course he was about to set. He prayed that his words would not create more anger in an already contentious atmosphere, but he knew he had little control over that. His opponents would attack him and foment anger no matter what he said. This was the way modern politics was conducted. He hoped that what he was about to attempt might combat the obsession with division that had become so prevalent, but he was not sure.
In fact, he was unsure about whether he was about to do the right thing at all. Part of him wanted to express those doubts publicly, to share them with his supporters and even those nominally on his side who would decry him as a traitor for any attempt to lead the country to the unity that the President spoke about but was unwilling to pursue. His friends and advisors were firmly against such candidness. They wanted him to project nothing but strength and certainty. He tended to believe that honesty and vulnerability would go farther in this instance. Those traits had often served him well in the past.
He still had a day to make that decision.
She knew everything that he was planning. On top of everything else, she was also his confidant, his trusted advisor and his first sounding board for ideas he wanted to explore. When he first suggested this course of action to her, she was silent for longer than he had ever known her to be. Then, as she often did, she started asking questions, sorting out her opinion in the give and take between them. Sometimes she convinced him he was off base, sometimes she found her way to agreement. They saw Creation similarly, so it was rare they wound up opposed to each other.
In this instance, it took several conversations before they had sorted everything out and he was able to take the conversation to his most trusted allies.
She broke into his thoughts, “What time is the meeting tomorrow?”
He knew she already knew the answer. “Church as usual at 10:30. We have time for lunch after. Everyone has instructions not to arrive here before 1. Do you want to go out for brunch or come back to the house to eat?”
“I can fix something. That way you will have some time for last minute preparations before they arrive. There are eggs and sausage in the fridge.”
“I am not sure there could ever be enough time for me to prepare for this.”
“You’re doing the right thing, sweetheart. It has to be done before things get any uglier.”
“Things are going to get uglier fast as soon as I make my speech.”
“Yes, but if you succeed, you will head off the worst of what could come. Remember to emphasize peace and everything will be for the best.”
“I wish I had your confidence. I wonder if peace can prevail even if I try and establish it preemptively. There is no guarantee that my side will endorse what I say. There are many who do not want peace and will push against it no matter how well reasoned it sounds to us.”
“You have spent many hours deliberating, praying, and talking through the options with those you trust. You know you have chosen the best way. The only way. Yes, times are tough, and the choices are less than ideal. We all wish it would never have come to this but both sides helped get us here. It is what it is. You have been gifted with the ability to lead and you have never shied away from the responsibility of that gift. I love that about you.”
He smiled at her and went silent. He knew she was right. She knew that he knew. They sat for a short time in the quiet as she finished her glass of wine.
She stood and reached out to him. “I’m headed to bed. Why don’t you join me?”
Another of her gifts. She gave of herself unreservedly just when he needed it most. She understood that sometimes this was his best method of communication, the way he best expressed his love for her when words were insufficient.
He took her hand and followed her up the stairs.