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Faces: Chapter 9

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Vasily would have been taken to a hospital, but the doctors advised that he would be taken home on a stretcher that night instead. Irina heated up the small apartment they had, and kept watch over him the whole night until she was too exhausted to stay awake.
Needless to say, a conductor was quickly found to replace Vasily's positions, and it was considered permanent. Vasily never conducted again, or played an instrument. Irina also took leave of her own housekeeping job for several weeks to take care of Vasily. Their savings were used for this occasion, rather than to get a new apartment, as Vasily dreamed of.
The first 3 days were very difficult. Irina knew how to take care of him, but the silence between them was almost unbearable. Irina tried to talk to him, but he only nodded or shook his head.
And there was his terribly depressed look on his face.
When dawn approached the first morning, Irina was still awake, but she was very tired. Vasily had just woken up.
"May I sleep now? Will you be ok? Do wake me if you feel worse," she laid down next to him. Vasily nodded his head.
They would do this back and forth, one sleeping at a time, but when both were awake, they would try to communicate as best as they could. Vasily got the idea of pen and paper to write things down, but he didn't write much. He kept his thoughts to himself. Irina read their Bible aloud several times, words of wisdom and comfort.

On the 4th night, Irina was sleeping, but a candle was lit on the table next to the bed. Vasily was awake staring at it intently. His fever was now gone, and his chest felt considerably better. But he was in a very depressed state. He had done a lot of thinking, and a lot of praying. He definitely had hit rock bottom, and made it out alive. So many different emotions had passed through his mind in the last few days that he was spiritually exhausted.
"God... why did you do this to me?"
He had thought that question at least 1000 times in the last few days. He had come to several conclusions: it was a punishment for his pride and ingratitude, and he didn't deserve to live, but God would make him pay for it now that he got his life back. That's normally how Vasily viewed things: everything was punishment or reward. But something was unsettling about this idea. Vasily knew better now that he couldn't be perfect, let alone please God. And Irina had read to him some chapters from Romans on suffering and fate, and it seemed a bit different. Suffering for the sake of a sanctification? It wasn't punishment then. It was to make him grow. The outcomes seemed obvious: he would learn to be more dependent on God, and would let God lead him where He desired. And Vasily was grateful for this lesson.
But that was only half of it.
Now he sat up watching the candle while he thought about the second half.
"God... what do you want with me? Why do I continue to live? What for? I'm nothing but... a burden now..."
Irina woke in the middle of the night to find Vasily crying to himself. The candle was nearly spent.
"What's wrong, Vasya? Do tell me," she asked softly.
"Oh Irina," Vasily whispered. "I can't go on." It was the first words he spoke to her in 3 days.
"Why not?"
"I don't want to. I'm ruined. There's nothing left but for me to die."
"No, don't say that," Irina soothed sympathetically. "There's a reason for why you are still alive. You have a purpose to fulfill."
"But what is it?" he said through gritted teeth.
Irina sighed. "I can't say. But God will show it to you."
"... How?"
"... I don't know... but He will..."
Vasily said nothing for a long time, and Irina thought he was falling asleep, when he spoke up again.
"Where would I be without you, Irina?" he said with a lot of feeling.
"I don't know that either. But I also wouldn't have been the same without you."
"For better or for worse?"
"For better obviously," she smiled, but then frowned again. "Vasya... don't take it so hard. You may think I'm sacrificing too much for you... I'm not. This is what love is, Vasya. Even when you are this way, I still love you. I always will. Never doubt my love, ever."
Irina saw Vasily turn his head to her in the dark.
"Nor you mine," he kissed her forehead.
The rest of the night was pleasantly spent...