She was drowning. Drowning in pain. Drowning in shame. Drowning in grief. She couldn’t tell how long she had been sitting, trying to rein in her broken heart. She had opened her eyes and it was a few peaceful seconds before reality of last night had come crashing down on her like a ton of bricks.
She couldn’t remember the last time she had felt this way. Maybe even never. She had had failures and heartbreaks before. But being the ever pragmatist she would always sniff a crisis a mile away and somehow she always seemed to be able to shield herself before it would hit her.
But not this time. Even when the numbers started pouring in, she had held her senior staff together, told them to be calm. She had always thrived under pressure and it didn’t even bother her much. It was John who had first given her the signal. He had softly clasped her hand and let her in on the disaster. Years of self discipline had kicked in and her first instinct was to shield herself. But this time she just couldn’t muster the strength. And John Podesta had witnessed a side of her only a couple of people in the world had ever seen.
Hearing sound of footsteps she looked up. In her misery she hadn’t even noticed that her husband wasn’t there when she woke up. Bill. One more person she had failed. She could feel the liquid shame coursing through her veins. Oh she had wanted to make him so proud and now here she was.
Bill placed the tray on bed table, and knelt by the bed. He threaded his fingers in her hair and gently pulled her close. But his action was met by an imperceptible resistance.
He knew the drill. He never doubted that he was the closest thing Hillary had to her soul. But there was a part of her which she kept guarded even from him. She didn’t do this consciously and he never blamed her for this. Years of people letting her down had done this to her. And he of all the people should know that.
Bill pushed back his thoughts. Not know. This was her crisis. He would be strong for. She had always been the rock of the family. He was in awe of her strength. But he needed to remind himself that she was a human, not a monument. And right now he needed to be there for her, with all his body and might.
“Babe, don’t push me away,” he whispered into her ears, pulling her into his chest. This time she complied and snaked her arms around his neck.
He could feel the sobs wracking through her body as he rubbed circles with his palm at the small of her back.
She breathed in the scent of his warm skin and let out a content sigh. She remembered taking two pills last night just to make her overworking brain come to halt. It hadn’t worked. Yet here she was feeling, even if momentarily, a sense of peace for the first time in hours.
“You are better than Valium,” she spoke into his chest, her fingers softly brushing the hair at his nape.
She felt the swell of his chest. “Whoa. Way to make a man proud, honey.” She felt a smile forming at her lips even though her cheeks were still tear stained.
Bill noticed the smile and softly brushed her cheek with the back of his hand. Such perfection. And to think this was his girl.
“Thomas Jefferson’s grave doesn’t mention that he was the President of the United States..” Bill began.
Hillary looked up, “What?”
“Yeah. Just that he was the Author of Declaration of Independence and Father of University of Virginia. He thought those were his much bigger accomplishments than being the President, and rightfully so.”
“I’ve seen the difference you have made Hill,” he fervently continued. “Seen you work yourself to the ground, give voice to issues nobody else was willing to take in fear of a political backlash. And all this just because you care for people, and not for some grand political scheme. Frankly, how many people can say that? Not me at least.”
She tried to interrupt but he shushed her.
“Every time you accomplish something, you set the bar for yourself even higher. Now I love you for that babe, but I love you even more for all the change you have brought, all the difference you have made. And I mean this from the bottom of my heart.”
And looking into her husband’s intense blue eyes, she knew he did. That’s when she knew that no matter how hard it seems to be right now, with him by her side she was going to ride this ordeal too.
And with that as her last coherent thought, she pulled him in for a deep lingering kiss.