I was sitting in the waiting room yesterday waiting for my pupils to dilate so the eye doc could peer into the depths of my inner being. Time was passing with ease as I flipped through a particularly beautiful magazine that featured some of the most fabulous homes on Nantucket I have ever seen; beachy, laid back elegance, lots of wide cabana stripes – totally my style.
Suddenly a strange sound caught my attention. It was a barely audible whimper. I looked up and in the corner of the room saw an elderly couple, also waiting to be called. The wife had a huge, healing bruise on the side of her face, probably the result of a fall. Her eyes were wide open, almost wild, her short, course hair completely flat on one side. She was rocking back and forth in her seat mumbling and whining softly. My guess is she had had a devastating stroke at some point. Her husband sat next to her, petting her arm with one hand and holding a ziplock bag full of little fish shaped crackers in the other. I could hear his calm voice encouraging her to settle down, reassuring her that he was right there with her. Every so often, he’d dig into his little bag, pull out a cracker and gently put it into her mouth.
The husband turned his head my way and our eyes caught for just a second. I gave him a muted smile and he nodded my way. It was such a bittersweet scene.
I glanced back down at the magazine on my lap and turned the page. There, staring back at me, was a beautiful image of a young couple in their wedding day finery standing on a dock overlooking the water. You could not see their faces as they faced the horizon and stared off into the future. The woman’s long blonde hair curled down her bare back almost touching the satin bow tied tight at her waist. It was an advertisement for a resort on one of those dreamy islands off the north-east coast. I redirected my gaze from the gorgeous image of the newly weds back to the couple in the corner of the waiting room. The juxtaposition of these two scenes was powerful and stark. This old couple had been this young couple once.
I couldn’t tell if tears or the eye drops were slowly clouding my vision. And I wondered…
Had this old lady with the scared, wild eyes worn a dress with a bow on their wedding day? Had her betrothed worn a uniform; maybe a crisp suit? Had she offered him that first slice of cake as lovingly as he was now offering her the crackers? Did they ever envision a time such as this when they thought about their future together?
My mind exploded with thoughts- good ones and bad ones. The thoughts stayed with me all day and kept me up most of the night. My imagination took me to dark, sad places. I stared at my husband’s face as he slept; listened to the rhythm of his breathing. What will happen to us? Maybe it’s better not to know..
not to worry,
not to imagine.
We have today, and that’s what’s real- this moment in time; right now.
In the end, I distilled it all down to this: Live your life and love the people in it. Stay true to your family and honor your commitments to them. Don’t neglect your faith, for one day it will be the source of strength that gets you through.
Yes, love, love, love.