“Did you feel exceptionally well last night? Between 7:30 and 8:15?”
My electrician asked me this and then turned back to the breaker box he was working on in our garage. I racked my brain. What was I doing at that time on a Monday night? Why was he asking me this?
I was flummoxed. He asked me again, his Spanish accent getting tangled on the word exceptionally.
Had he called me? Rang the bell and I had ignored him? No, I had texted him yesterday afternoon that the power was out in our office, and he had confirmed he would come this morning.
Hugo was his name, a man in his sixties who had fixed a few of our electrical problems in our new house. He was kind and a very good teacher, pointing out every fix he made, and how the house had been wired by the previous owners.
As he continued talking about the old wiring that needed to be replaced I finally remembered what I was doing. I had been lying in bed with my three year old, snuggled close with my nose touching her cheek, waiting for her to settle for the night.
I followed Hugo out and we started to say our goodbyes.
“Wait, Hugo,” I said, my arms folded to keep me warm. “Why did you ask me what I was doing last night?”
He paused and then I knew he had been thinking about me. He held his hands together, looking down at the ground and searched for the English words. Or maybe just words in general.
“Last night at church they asked us to pray for someone,” he began. “I prayed for my daughter, and for him,” he said, gesturing to his apprentice who stood a few feet away looking up at the trees. “And I prayed for you.” At this point he looked at me, his eyes meeting mine from behind his eyeglasses. “The entire church prayed for you.”
Someone prayed for me. Hugo prayed for me, Hugo who I had cold called after the local hardware store suggested him as an electrician, Hugo who had come over only three times since I had moved to Los Angeles.
I must look like someone who needed to be prayed for. I tried to reach back into my memory to the last time I had seen Hugo: what had happened? I only knew it was during the pre-holiday madness of Santa gifts and tree decorating and visiting family. Maybe I was stressed. Or was it sadness?
“That last time I saw you, you looked tired,” Hugo said. “So last night I said a prayer for Tessa.” He took my hand and said goodbye. “And God bless you.”
I followed him out to the front door. I took myself back to the previous night, laying in bed with my daughter. Had I felt a blast of prayer? A rush of love? I can’t remember anything unusual.
I said goodbye to Hugo, closed the door, and sat down heavily on our stairwell. I was touched, feeling the weight of a unique experience in my life. Uniqueness was not so common; routine ruled. I am someone who looks/appears/seems/ to need prayers. God help me. I must need it.