Insanity threatened to consume his mind in the dark pit that trapped him beneath the surface of the earth. He’d lost count of the days since the explosion, and was now waiting for death. A wall of collapsed rock sealed the only escape from the shaft that entombed him along with a team of miners, and though the others were still confident that rescue was possible—he’d abandoned hope.
He’d read stories of similar disasters in the past, and the horrors haunted his mind and stole his faith. Earlier accounts spoke of how a mine would be sealed off after caving in—the miners below considered a lost cause with no attempts made for rescue. In a more recent account, the sole survivor of a blast had watched helplessly as one by one his team members succumbed to death. Such stories flooded his mind as the confinement grew increasingly unbearable.
Others had started writing letters to their loved ones—just in case. He wondered if the effort would prove worthwhile. Here, so far beneath the surface of the earth, he wondered if his family would even be waiting and hoping for his rescue. The walls around him seemed to close in even more tightly, and he felt completely alone—the darkness that surrounded him resembling the pit of despair that was his life.
The night before he descended into this forsaken tomb, he’d had another fight with his wife. Such arguments were not uncommon for them—as his drinking always escalated emotions to volcanic levels. His mind flooded with visions of his children—cowering in fear as the quarrel erupted around them. He remembered his wife’s beautiful face, stained with tears. She’d never abandoned him, in spite of everything. How could she ever forgive him? How could his children love him?
Regret piled upon him like the crumbling rock that confined him beneath the earth. “If only I could have another chance,” he cried in his mind, “If only I could see them just once…I would beg for their forgiveness. I would do anything to change. God…please… help me…”
At last he knew what his final legacy would be. Furiously, he began to pour his emotions onto paper. Even if there were no chance for survival, he could hope that his words would survive. He could not change the past, but he could let his family know how deeply he loved them and yearned for their forgiveness. He read and re-read the letter in the days that passed, silently praying it would reach the surface of the earth.
Countless days went by. The effort it took to maintain sanity had surpassed the effort it took to survive. The letter was now crumpled and worn with tears. He was no longer just waiting for death; he was welcoming it—inviting it to overtake his nightmare once and for all. But then came news of the rescue, and a quiet hope reignited in his heart.
When it finally came time to enter the rescue capsule, he was filled with relief and dread. He was alive, against all odds. His team had survived. But still, he wondered who—if anyone, would be waiting for him at the surface of the earth. Had he dug a pit for his family so deep that there was no hope for escape?
After emerging from the darkness that had become so familiar, his eyes could hardly adjust to the brightness of the sun that now greeted him at the surface. The rescue team had provided glasses to shield his eyes, and in spite of his weariness, he desperately searched the crowd for a familiar face. His vision blurred by tears, he saw a faint shadow of familiar beauty approaching him. Without hesitation, he ran to embrace his wife.
Through tears he attempted to choke out the speech he’d rehearsed countless times in his tomb so far beneath the earth where they now stood. When words failed him, he finally cried out, “How could you wait for me after all I’ve done? How could you love me?”
She looked at him with tenderness, silencing him with unexpected words: “I’ve committed to love you in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer…for better for worse…’til death do us part…as long as we both shall live. I keep my commitments.” As she embraced him again, the darkness of his nightmare began to melt away in the warmth of the morning light.
As they made their way home to the waiting arms of his children, he knew the journey would not be easy. The darkness that had enfolded him would seek to return, but it would not devour. He’d been freed from the depths of the pit. He was not alone. He was forgiven. And he was a changed man.
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This is simply beautiful. I loved the analogy between the buried miner and how we bury ourselves with busyness, work, kids, paying the bills. It can get to the point if I wonder if I;ll ever see the light again. What I didn't realize is the light was there all along. This piece just explodes with great messages.