Down. We were both going down from floor number six where we had spent hours together. I glanced at her worriedly out of the corner of my eyes. She took a long breath as we passed floor number three.
With a nod she says, "He'll be ok, doncha think?" as if to reassure herself.
"The doctors are doing everything they can. He's in good hands," I responded as I brushed the hair off her cheek.
"I don't know what I'd do without him, ya know..." she says, still staring at the closed elevator doors.
"I know, I know..."
And I remember the love story that had just been told to me. It's the kind of love story that seems so ordinary, while all the while remarkable in every way. This is the kind of love that still holds hands at eighty; the kind of love I always dreamed of.
My heart hurt in the good kind of longing way as I watched and listened to them finish one another's sentences, as only true lovers can.
As we sat next to his hospital bed, I had innocently asked, "How did you two meet?" Maybe nobody had asked this eighty-something old couple that question in a long time, because the question was met with a sly grin from the man in the hospital bed.
"Now, that's a funny story," he says, as he looked over at his wife who was shaking her head at him.
He proceeded to tell me that some friends had given him her number as a dare. She wouldn't date anyone; her standards were too high; she would only marry a teacher or doctor. He proceeded to tell me that he told those boys, "Now, that's the kind of girl I would like to meet."
He took the number and set it on his desk for a few weeks before deciding one Sunday afternoon to give her a call.
I made him back track in the story a bit...making sure I had it right... Yes, he called her out of the blue, never having met her.
At this point the wife interjects into his storytelling: "My father walked through the kitchen and asked with whom I was on the phone. I said, 'I don't know. Some gentleman.'"
The husband laughed. "Some gentleman. Little did she know." He continued to tell me he drove out to her house to take her for a ride, ended up helping her father finish building their house, and married her four months later.
"Four months?" I asked, shocked.
"Yes, four months," looking over at his wife who was smiling at him, "There's never been anyone for me, but her."
She shook her head again, "Now stop, dear."
"We're still together after all these years. That's a long time, ya know?" he says looking at me.
Yes, I knew. And as I sat there in the midst of all that love, I knew that there must have been hard times along the way. Times when they wanted to walk away.
And I was so thankful neither of them had.
I didn't know them when they were younger, when they courted, or when they had babies. I didn't know them when they built their house, when they planted gardens, or hung drywall in the church basement.
I have only known them in these last years of their life.
I have only seen the end of their love story...
So, as she stepped out of the elevator, I rubbed her back a bit, "You gonna be ok?"
"Yes. Yes. I'll be fine....
as soon as he comes home."
We walked together to the parking lot. As I watched her shuffle to her car, I couldn't help but imagine her husband reaching out to grab her hand as he walked alongside her.
"Don't you take him," I pleaded with God.
I just couldn't bear for the story to end...not quite yet.