Friday, August 02, 2002

They were a middle aged couple when I spotted them this afternoon. They were older than I am but younger than I will be in 15 years. They were going up the escalator and I was going down. They were entering Barnes Jewish Hospital and I was leaving. They could have been anybody. As a matter-of-fact, they WERE anybody. I would not recognize them now if they walked into my living room. And yet there was something different about them. She was on the step above him and she talked on the cell phone. I imagined she was talking to a close friend that was a nurse or a medical expert of some sort. I think she needed advice. She looked straight ahead but her body was turned toward the left. And he, a step below, leaned into her chest. His eyes were closed, his head buried into her. Standing on a lower step allowed a minimum of hunkering down on his part in order to fit perfectly into this place of comfort.

You know how escalators are. You go up. They go down. They go up. You go down. You see people across from you for a moment and never again. But this couple remained in my mind as I walked through the parking garage. It was easily in excess of 100 degrees down there. You could taste the air. It was dark and heavy. But all of those feelings and sensations escaped me as the scene on the moving stairs played itself out in my brain again and again. He was sick. She was well. She was bringing him to a specialist at this world renown hospital. He was tired of fighting. She was resolved to get him help. All of his senses were geared toward just getting there and sitting down. All of hers were geared, laser-like, toward getting her husband back. He was not giving up but he was clinging to her for direction and she had become his hope.

Maybe I am wrong about all of that. I don't think so. But this much I know. I was looking at a picture of love. Love is something that is tough to define. But when you see it... you know it. It was not in their walk because they were not walking. It was not in their speech because they were not talking to each other. It was in their posture. It was in their faces... one resolved... one resigned. One defending... one depending. But mainly I felt it. It's waves rippled out from this couple like the sound of a gentle murmer spoken in hushed tones. It was the sound of a crises shared and a solution sought. I had no place in their world. I will never know how their appointment went. I will always wonder what news they received. But I learned from them today. They taught me two lessons. Lean. Support. And of course they taught me a third.... love. no matter what.