Much as I hadn’t anticipated making a store run on Black Friday – I found myself dangerously low on ink and opted to make a dash to the local office supply store. Fortunately, they weren’t overly crowded, but there was just enough of a line at the checkout for me to do some people watching as I waited my turn.
A few slots in front of me, I saw a woman who I judged to be roughly my age in line with whom I believe was her husband. The husband was obviously quite ill and wheelchair bound. I watched as they made small talk. Saw her brush the hair out of his eyes and stroke his cheek. For a moment, I was overcome with sadness that my husband, who had been ill and wheelchair bound until his passing, wasn’t here with me this holiday season so that I too could once again stroke his cheek and make small talk.
Then I caught a better glimpse of the wife. Yes, you could see the love for her husband on her face. But, perhaps since I’d “been there/done that”, I could also see the fatigue, the worry, sense the sleepless nights she must be having. It was apparent that a trip to the hair and nail salon hadn’t happened for her in a while and weren’t going to be in the cards for her anytime soon.
That picture hit me “right there”…. I felt empathy knowing full well how difficult it is to maneuver a grown man confined to a wheelchair into and out of a vehicle – the once “quick trip to the store” becoming a logistical, many hours long ordeal. My heart went out to her in so many unspoken ways as what she was experiencing this holiday season had been my every day reality for so long. I could vividly remember all that having a critically ill spouse entailed. I could also remember how profoundly special each and every moment, each and every trip, each and every little gesture became.
The wedding vows that my late husband and I had exchanged so long ago (and quite possibly theirs as well) said “In Sickness and In Health…..Until Death Do You Part”. Not “Gee, it’s too bad you’re sick – I’m outta here. Good luck with that”. I honored those vows, and that beautiful strong lady was obviously honoring hers as well.
I’ve never wanted to hug a perfect stranger so hard in my life. But I didn’t intrude on their time together. I simply said a quick silent prayer that she and her mate have as many beautiful memories and holiday store trips as they can.
Whatever you may be dealing with this season, I wish you strokes on the cheek, holiday trips and beautiful memories as well my friends.