To the 19th century outsider, Hawaii looks like a beautiful tropic paradise, albeit populated by native savages. Only a visitor can truly breathe in the splendors of the island, as an outsider. But when you live on Hawaii for as long as Jerusha Hale, it begins to take the form of a hellish place of torture, far from Pacific Paradise it represents. This is not, however because of the uncivilized natives, or the extreme heat, but because of the tight-held rein of her stubborn husband, the zealous Reverend Abner Hale.
It was just before the sunset, when the sky seems punctured with vibrant colors, like those of the wildflowers that sprung up around Hawaii, when Jerusha was toiling back from an inland stream, drenched in sweat, carrying buckets of crystal clear water home, alone, as order by Abner.
When she had first arrived, she was a young bride, newly pregnant. She was greeted by the warm faces of Hawaiian women, swimming on the ship to meet the new settlers. The warmest face of all, belong to Malama, Alli Nui of the little island. She was an incredibly strong and friendly woman, and Jerusha would never forget the lessons she learned from her.
Now, it was thirteen
years later, and she had lost many loved ones, including her sister
in New England and Malama. She had given birth to three blonde
babies, as well, and she had supported her rather dislike husband
through all his ventures on the island. She had, too, saved countless
numbers of Hawaiian children from death due to measles.
Right now she was so tired, and felt every muscle in her body aching as she trudged through the grassy field. Her brown hair was getting in her face and for a second she paused, put down the weighty buckets, and moved the strand away from her eyes.
While resting, her mind went back home. She had one sister left, and two parents. What she would five to be home, to rest! Her system was getting weaker every day she stayed there. And when she would ask for a sabbatical, Abner would just say that he needed her here for the time being. She could go to New England soon, he had promised her every day for the last three years.
"Does he even love me?"
He cared for her, a lot, that she was certain of. He had not yet learned to appreciate her, however, which left the gap in what little romance they could have. Truth be told, he wasn't her first choice, either, in fact, he wouldn't have been a choice at all had the circumstances not called for it. But she remained faithful over the years, and despite moral disagreements, she had come to love him, despite the trials he routinely put her through.
At least she had the children, even though they were a handful to manage. They were proof that Abner cared for her on some deeper level. Micah, David, and Lucy- all names derived from the Holy Book, the reverend so treasured.
God was the one Abner really loved most of all, and Jerusha felt guilty asking for more love from him. And yet, love is endless, boundless, and you can make love from anything, with anything, being on Hawaii had taught her that much. Unfortunately, Abner closed his heart, and gave it a fixed limit that could not be exceeded by anyone, even God. Maybe, just maybe, Abner was afraid to make more love for others, afraid of becoming too attached, thus losing God. If Abner didn't have God, his life would be meaningless to him.
This was the reason Jerusha had trouble loving him like a husband. She loved him like a close, intimate friend, yes, but until Abner could love her like that, instead of a partner in the work of the Lord could she make the space available in her heart for him.
Jerusha felt a pang in her shoulder, and stumbled a little bit, spilling a sizable amount of the water on her dress.
"Ohhh…" she gasped, almost falling to the ground. She steadied herself and went back to work. She was almost there. Already she could hear the patronizing voice of her husband, giving the children their daily Bible lesson.
She felt another pain in her shoulder, but she shrugged it off. Jerusha loosened her grip on the buckets' handles.
She began to think about Rafer, her first and only true love, a sea captain. She could have lived a much easier life, either sailing with him, or staying home in New England, while he was away months at a time. And if she chose the latter lifestyle, at least she would know that her husband would love her, with his entire being, and they would be passionate.
Another pang struck her shoulder, and she stumbled yet again. Once again she shrugged it off, and went back to her fantasy.
Sure she would be loved, and would love her husband, but would her life be as fulfilling as it was now on Hawaii? She would never have met her respected friends Malama and Keoki, her courageous son. These people were beyond incredible, true inspirations. And they were the ones that made her strong enough to survive on the dangerous island, away from her close family, stuck with the demanding Abner Hale.
As she came into sight of her little family and grass hut she sighed with relief. Her difficult task was almost over.
"Mommy! Mommy!" called the oldest, Micah.
Jerusha smiled at the sweetness and naiveté of her son. But the joy and curved smile fell flat when she realized that the Reverend's constant righteousness would soon sap the young boy of those gifts eventually.
"Quiet now, Micah," said Abner. "Listen."
Once again, Jerusha would struck with intense pain and this time she stumbled to the earth, spilling the buckets of freshwater all about, creating a muddy border around her.
"Mommy!" cried Micah, who had kept his eye on his mother the entire time. He abruptly left the session, which displeased his stern father.
He ran towards his mud-covered mother, and kept shouting her name. When he reached her, he slipped into the mud beside her.
"Micah, son! Come!"
"Mommy's fell, Daddy! Mommy's fell!"
"Shush, shush," said Jerusha, trying to calm him down. The little boy was crying uncontrollably.
"Mommy's not going anywhere."
Jerusha cradled her son in her arms, rocking him back and forth. He was warm, just like Charity.
Abner, who had left the hut with the children at his sides, took thundering steps to the place his wife lie, still carrying his Bible. The youngsters with him were shocked like their brother to see their weary mother, covered in mud on the grass, and began to cry.
"Oh, Jerusha!" cried Abner dramatically. He crouched down in the mud and tried to lift his wife onto her feet, but it was no use.
"I'm too weak, Abner."
"But you can't just stay there Sister Jerusha, you can't!"
She just gave him a soulful look. As dirty as she was, her eyes still spoke more than her tongue ever could.
"Oh, God! Jerusha, no! No!"
He leaped to her side and hugged his wife tightly. The three children were on their hands and knees bawling.
"You can't leave
me Jerusha, you can't!"
Her chest was on fire, she could barely breather. She just stared into the sky, vacantly.
"I did this to you," he said. "You weren't able enough to live here. I forced you too much." He was crying so much now, he could hardly talk.
"I've killed you! Oh God! I've killed you!"
Jerusha weakly squeezed him.
"No," she told him. "I am grateful to you. Because of you, I made a difference in this world. I blame you of no crime, but one…"
"What is that?"
"You never loved me, not like you should."
Abner's face twisted into that of extreme pain and disgust.
"Of course I loved you! Of course! How could you say such a venomous thing, Jerusha?"
"Then say it now. Say your love for me knew no ends, no bounds, you loved me beyond all. Let me know this before I die."
Abner was silent.
"Jerusha… I can't
say that, I can't."
Jerusha closed her eyes. "Then know I always loved you, the only way I could.
"And children," she continued," you will always have me with you, wherever you go. And remember too, that I loved you more than anything, even God."
"But, but," stumbled Lucy, crying. "We love you, too, Mommy."
Jerusha took the child's little hand in her's and squeezed it.
"Bless you all, my darlings," Jerusha uttered before closing her eyes for the last time and passing away.
Suddenly, Abner was struck with a tremendous wave of grief and kissed and sobbed over his wife's body as the children wailed. The wind began to rage ferociously, like that of Ruth Malama's passing, and the fierceness was very much like the character of Jerusha Bromley Hale, the character that helped build Hawaii.