From Chicken Soup for the Soul of America

Something Special

“I would do something special for her. Not take out the trash without being reminded. Something special, something I wouldn’t ordinarily do.” With tears streaming down his face, the gentleman had just answered the reporter’s question, “What would you do differently if you had known you might not see your wife again?”

Now, I personally think that is a pretty crappy question to ask anyone, much less the husband of a victim of a terrorist attack. The reporter seemed to have no compassion for this man whose wife’s plane had been flown into the World Trade Center.

“I’m just glad I kissed her good-bye and told her I loved her this morning,” he managed to choke out.

Of course, we would all act differently if we knew time together with our spouse was running out. My anger at the insensitive reporter simmered along with the disbelief and fear that had become part of my life since watching the results of the attack on America. “Stupid guy,” I muttered to myself, switching off the television. Maybe I needed a break. I have that luxury. I can turn off the pictures of the devastated buildings, despondent relatives and harried rescue workers.

But could I turn off my feelings? My husband Alan and I farm. He was cutting a field of soybeans that afternoon. I decided to go take pictures of the American flag he had mounted on the back of our combine. With terrorists trying to cripple our nation, we wanted to show our support: The American farmer was still hard at work.

Back at the house, starting a load of laundry, I found myself thinking about that interview. I would do something special, played over and over in my mind. That gentleman would never have that opportunity now, but I did. I hope Alan and I have another forty years together. But there are no guarantees. Tomorrows are not guaranteed.

Something I wouldn’t ordinarily do. Well, his pickup could sure use a good cleaning. So I got to it. After about thirty minutes of vacuuming and scrubbing the interior, I was ready to wash the outside. I had one little problem: Starting the power washer was a bit tricky. You had to choke the motor just enough, and the idle had to be set just so. The possibility of getting jerked on the recoil was significant. Something special. . . . Grabbing the pull rope I tackled it head on. Suddenly it was very important to me to accomplish this surprise for Alan. Several attempts later, with no success and an aching arm, I thought I might not succeed. Lord, I prayed silently, I could sure use your help. I want to get this started so I can finish this for Alan. I really want to do this for him.

The guilt hit immediately. How could I bother our Lord at a time like this? Thousands were praying for their loved ones. Much more important prayers needed his attention right now. “I’m sorry, Lord,” I whispered. How could I be so selfish? I had spent a lot of time in prayer over the past three days, asking for comfort for the victims’ families, strength for our nation’s leaders and healing for all of us. My request for help now was automatic. I always ask for help when facing a difficult task. But it just didn’t seem right to do so today.

Defeat didn’t seem an option either, so I pulled the rope one more time. The motor sputtered to life.

Yes, Alan was surprised and grateful when he saw his pickup. And I was surprised and grateful for the important lessons I learned that day. First of all, despite his tactless approach, the reporter brought home a very important point. Through his pain, the man who lost his spouse taught me to cherish mine. I will look for those “special” things to do for Alan.

Secondly, and maybe more importantly, God does care about us, all of us. He hears the prayers of those whose suffering seems unbearable. He cares. And he hears those of us who need a little boost when we have set out to do something special for someone we love.

Pam Bumpus

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