The Elderly Couple
I was sitting in the waiting room at the eye doctor’s office, my eyes brimming. The nurse had put some drops in my eyes to dilate them just a few minutes prior but this was not the cause of tears I held back. No, I held back tears as I watched a future play out in front of me that will never be mine.
Fifteen feet from me across the dimly lit room I could see an elderly couple. Their hair was white. He was balding in front and her hair was pulled back in a ponytail. They both wore jeans, t-shirts, and sneakers. I heard him mention something about not wanting to leave her “home alone”, his voice quite tender. At times they spoke to one another and at others they sat in comfortable silence. After one such lull in conversation, he spoke to her in a quiet conspiratorial tone, chuckling. She laughed and told him to hush.
It was a sweet interaction to watch; one I’d been a part of countless times in my eleven years with Chris. That’s why it made my heart ache so much to watch… it made the absence noticeable. They were soon called back for her visit with the doctor and I was thankful because it was too much for me to watch them. I considered possibilities in my mind. They might have been married 50 years or they may have been together for just a handful. Either way, they reminded me far too closely of what I’d had in mind when I married at 20. Chris and I would be septuagenarians and I would still be chiding him for cracking outrageous jokes at inappropriate moments.
We’d be able to spend our days together, no longer pulled here and there for school or work commitments. Our four or five children would be grown and we’d have some grandchildren. We’d be active in our church.
Instead I’m a mom of just two and career will be my husband. My daughters are wonderful and I love them with all my heart. Pursuing a career as a midwife will keep me plenty busy and it will be fulfilling; truly I wouldn’t have much time to be a good wife in balance with that anyway. It’s not a bad life and I do not mean to sound ungrateful because I am certainly blessed.
Yet—it is not wrong for me to have these moments when I grieve for what might have been, what I hoped for, what I dreamed of. It is possible to experience grief and still live a life of gratitude. Much love to all of you out there who have been in the same shoes.
Things I had (laughs on our wedding day after he bit my fingers)
Things I hoped for