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Saturday, October 22, 2011

When Acts of Love Become Verbs

Yesterday, I became an eyewitness to love. Actually what I saw were little acts of love, and these are among the best and purest examples of love there can ever be. I mean the kind of love that becomes a soft and gentle verb. The actions shifting before my eyes were small, and yet beautiful, so mad beautiful almost to the point of making me want to weep.

Lately, many things seem to touch me in a sweet spot and will literally bring tears to my eyes… even in a public setting. It’s become very embarrassing.


But I digress...

Picture it: I’m in my doctor’s office, waiting, like the rest, for someone there to respect the appointment time I’d rushed from my home like a madman to keep... but somehow the medical profession doesn’t seem to respect or really acknowledge. So, I’m waiting as people slowly filter by, while others sit like I sit, pretending to be engrossed in the shiny magazines sprinkled about on surrounding tables (most of which are at least 3 to 4 months out of date).

Anyway, each time the door would open, we’d shift, redirect our eyes to whoever entered the room. They would steal our gaze temporarily before we’d head back to our shiny magazines. But my eyes refused to shift back to reading. Instead they remained fixed on the elderly couple who had just walked into this space. This was the kind of couple you just know has been married since time was a child. They are old, but still young inside their love. I could intuit this by the slow and gingerly way the husband treated his wife as he made room for her (and her walker) to make it safely inside. I could tell this because it was more than just polite concern... it was an act of love, something he had no doubt been displaying for the last 50, 60 or 70 years for this woman. I suddenly wished I could have seen their wedding portrait. I wanted to see their youthful faces, the features that first attracted them to each other. I wanted to feel their love in a visual, visceral way and to appreciate its history in another time and place.

Anyway, I sat there pretending not to stare and watched them live inside that love they shared. The wife needed help getting around, and instead of letting her rise, he went to the table and asked which magazines she wanted to see. It was such a gentle thing, a small thing... but it too was an act of love.

This man, I could tell, was not in the best of health either. His gait was slow, his posture, a bit stooped, his feet not so surefooted, but he was still able to move, to walk, to get around on his own. I imagined there had been times when he was the weaker one, health-wise, and it was she who did all those small, gentle but loving things for him. Together they truly were the physical ideal of that marriage vow:

“In sickness and in health… until death do us part.”

I suddenly thought about their deaths: which one of them would go first into that bright and shining light, and just how long it might take the heartsick other to join their partner? I gathered it would not take very long at all. People who truly, deeply, madly love each other tend not to survive for very long without their counterpart, that other twin heart, that other loving soul living, breathing and witnessing life right beside them.

Isn't that romantic? Isn't that the biggest verb of all?


Sitting there letting it all wash over me, I was almost jealous of that love; envious that I may never grow so old as to see my late 80s, or have someone to truly love me through it for all those years. I was filled with all these crazy notions of how wonderful it must be to have someone loving me that way, so hard and full and yet so gentle, and for such a long time. I wanted to cry for them and to weep for myself, and yet I somehow managed to keep my stone man-face in order.

It was a good thing too, because suddenly a nurse was calling my name to enter the examination room.


Suddenly all the attention shifted to me, and my sick and lonesome ass.

The thing is: I just could not get that elderly couple out of my mind.

I wonder, no matter what illness brought them to that place, if they realized how LUCKY, and how Blessed they were.


Love is a beautiful thing. But love is the most beautiful of all each and every time it becomes a verb.