It is amazing to me, and it will always be amazing to me, that Ashaki loves me even with all the dark secrets of my past exposed to her. She does not flinch even when I express to her the inner conflict I feel about many things. She does not shy away when I tell her that I have trouble "repenting" of some of my actions -- actions that most people would say were terribly wrong. I think about situations I was in, relationships I had, and I still can't always see clearly. I still can't say that I know I should have done "x" instead of "y." Sometimes there are shadows when I reflect on my past -- shades of grey more than black and white. I struggle with sorting and sifting the "right" from the "wrong." I wonder if there even is a "right" answer to certain things. Is there a moral absolute? And, if there is a moral absolute, what is it and have I violated it? I struggle with my conscience. And I don't know if -- when I want to defend myself and what I have done -- it is out of a knowledge that I have acted correctly, or if I am simply avoiding the pain it would cause me to admit that I have acted in hurtful and selfish ways.
When I confess these things to Ashaki -- these deep, inner thoughts and movements of my soul -- she does not judge me. She listens. She holds me close. And she quietly says, "You are good. Your struggles show me that you are good. Evil people do not struggle with themselves. And trust that you are loved. Trust in my love. Love gives us the strength to face ourselves, because love assures us that we will be held close. That we will not be rejected. But, you must be patient with yourself. You must allow yourself to struggle. In the end, your struggle -- if it is an honest one -- will bring you clarity and peace."
So, with my secrets being secrets no more to this beautiful woman, she truly became MY beautiful woman -- my Ashaki, my wife. And I became her husband. We were married in the midst of her people -- our people -- one beautiful morning. There was much laughter and food, music and dancing. And the fact that I was this white guy? Well, there was some eyebrow raising. But, I have found that most people -- when the proverbial rubber hits the proverbial road -- want their children, their loved ones, and their friends to be happy, to be with a person who truly loves them. And it was clear that Ashaki and I loved each other. In my own heart, I was rather taken aback at the thought that I could love a woman as I love Ashaki. I didn't think I had it in me to really want to spend my whole life with one person. I never thought I could enter a marriage actually having confidence that it could last "'til death do us part." Who believes that, anymore? I mean, yes, you say it -- because that's what you're supposed to say. But, I always figured that in the back of my mind there would be the thought that it might not actually work out. Surprisingly, though, that thought was not in the back of my mind -- or in any other part of my mind. I found that when I made my vows to my Ashaki, looking into her smiling eyes and her trusting face, I actually meant them -- every word of them.
I am sure that you will now all imagine that our lovemaking that night was perfect -- full of passion. Well, if it was, it almost wasn't. And that was my fault. I can still be an idiot. As my sweet new wife and I prepared for bed, she noticed the box of condoms I had placed by my pillow. And tears filled her eyes. We had talked about children. As I said, Ashaki would often teasingly tell me that she hoped for four or five. Now, though, I realized that she was not teasing. Yes, she would say it in a playful manner, but she actually meant it. I had also assumed that we would wait for a little while -- like maybe a year or so -- before actually "trying for a baby." Well, Ashaki had not assumed this. She had assumed the opposite. Can you even believe it? With all the things we were careful to talk about before our wedding, we had somehow neglected to talk about when we would start a family.
"Why don't you want a baby now?" she asked me, the tears running down her cheeks. "We love each other. We are married. We have a home. What else do we need? And I am young -- healthy and strong and fertile. It is the perfect time. What if we wait and something happens? What if we wait and it ends up that I can't get pregnant easily?"
I looked at this lovely creature who was now my wife, and I could not refuse her. I didn't want to refuse her. I didn't really understand it -- this deep and unrelenting desire for a child -- but, I realized I didn't have to understand it. Her desire was a fact. So, I tossed the condoms in the trash and took my now giggling wife into my arms -- took her to me. And she took me to her. And we were together -- perfectly, happily, joyfully together. For the first time, I actually made love. I had fucked a lot of women, hooked up with others. But, I had never made love to anybody before making love to my Ashaki. And, in making love to her, I finally realized how you can be an 80-year-old man making love to your 80-year-old wife and still find the whole thing to be quite satisfying.
Now you know the story of how I came to be lying here in the hot, still darkness -- next to this beautiful woman who is mine. This woman heavy with our child. And I am happy -- and I am scared. Will I be a good father? Do I know how to be a good father? Ashaki believes I will be. I cannot let her down. I refuse to let her down. And so I breathe and I touch her softness and I wait for our baby to come...