“I’m not lying,” I said, lying. Yikes. Better make that right. “Nothing’s wrong. Everything’s fine.”
“You bought me something, didn’t you?” she said. “You’ve got some kind of really expensive gift waiting for me at home, don’t you?”
“I wish. But I’m sure you remember the state of our finances before you left. Believe me, they haven’t improved since then. We’re lucky if we haven’t been evicted by the time we get home.”
“And there’s nothing going on with you.”
“There’s nothing. Everything’s fine.”
“Hmmph,” she said—which, in our private, Been Married For 16 Years language, translates into, “You’re keeping me in the dark about something, which of course I’m displeased with—but since I can tell whatever you’re hiding is good, you must have your own reasons for keeping it from me. So I’ll wait a little bit longer for you to tell me what it is. But I won’t forget!”
“So,” she said next, “tell me about your week. Anything happen or anything?”
“Oh, you know,” I said, signaling and moving into another lane. “Just … the usual stuff. Made some lasagna that came out pretty good. Went and saw a movie. Fixed that little leak we had under the bathroom sink. Became a Christian. Got the oil changed on the car. Did some laundry.”
“What did you say?” she said.
“What was that last thing you said?”
“That I did some laundry?”
“No, not that you did some laundry,” she said. "Before that. The part about you becoming a Christian?"
"Oh, right, right," I said, my voice sort of trailing off. "That's ... that's also something that happened.”
I drove a good long while after that in silence. Cat knows that when I have something of real emotional import to tell her, it takes me about forever to begin. I don’t know why I’m like that. It’s like a hundred people all trying to squeeze through a door at once: None come out at all. They have to get organized first.
“So,” she said softly. “Tell me.”
“I will,” I said. I laid my hand in her lap, where she cradled it in both of hers. “Of course I will. But let’s wait till we get home.”
So we did.
And I did.
And then, on the following Sunday, she came to church with me, since she was so used to our hanging out together on Sunday mornings.
And at church she was surprised to find nothing said, sung or read that contradicted her lifelong, constant, unwavering sense of what she’d always thought of as simply "The Good."
About a year and a half after we started going to church together, she, too, got baptized into the faith.
Somewhere we have a picture of her on the day of her adult baptism, standing in the church with the pastor who blessed us by lovingly performing that ceremony.Someday, many years from now, I imagine I’ll come across that picture, and stare at it for a long, long time. And I know that the image of my wife and our pastor will grow blurry, as the water comes to my eyes.
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