I was walking through New York City on a cold, rainy night in October. My earbuds rested in my ears giving me the semblance of purpose and focus with the music of isolation playing. My focus was on staying dry and impressing those around me hoping to join the National Street Slalom event in the next City Olympics. As I faced the reality of stopping due to the four-door fences whizzing by, I approached an older couple under a small but sufficient umbrella. The woman wrapped her wrinkly and worn hands around the soft mid-section of her husband.
I stopped and began to feel a different drop on my cheek. I saw before my eyes a simple but profound picture of enduring love.
I don’t know this couple’s story or anything about them. However, as I crossed the street corner and returned to my empty hotel room, I began to imagine their ragged and remaining love under that small but sufficient umbrella.
I imagined those early years of marriage filled with smiles over a morning cup of coffee. I pictured a gentle squeeze of the hands when they missed their exit and were bound to be late for their social engagement. I heard their agonizing despair over the dual loss of a job and their first child. I saw them hold onto one another when their hearts and hands were set on holding their newborn child.
I walked with them into their doctors office and watched tears of joy flow from their eyes as they held their newborn daughter. I watched them stumble through the dark halls of their house to feed and comfort their crying child. I heard their angered words fly like arrows through the kitchen but neither knew why they were fighting. I saw them slowly walk toward their bedroom. The dark room and cool sheets found warmth with the slow, sincere words, “I Love You” as each drifted off to sleep side-by-side. The war had ended as quickly as it began remembering they were allies not enemies.
I saw the wife’s eyes glancing toward the clock anticipating her husband’s return from work. I watched his two girls hug his muscled arms and firm side. He leaned down to gently kiss his wife on the forehead and pick up his daughter to kiss her cheek. I felt the pride well up inside of them as their daughter walked across the stage to receive her diploma.
I watched this man with his calloused and compassionate hands, hesitantly but courageously place his daughters smooth and innocent hands into the hands of another man. They heard their daughter repeat after the minister, “until death do us part” as they squeezed one another’s hands. Their eyes caught each other and with a wrinkled, time-tested smile she gently laid her head on his shoulder and his balding head rested on hers.
I watched them walk out of the doctors and into a land called, “Cancer” with their interlocked fingers gripping tighter with each step. Her head began to match his with the treatments she endured. I saw their smiles stretch from east to west peering into the hospital nursery and locking eyes with their grandson.
As they walked the damp streets of New York City, they clung tightly to one another under a small but sufficient umbrella. They experienced a few rain drops on their clothes but no storm from mother nature could match the drops that soaked their clothes and pillows in their marriage.
I stopped in my city slalom tracks mesmerized by enduring love. It was simple but sincere. A man and woman under a small but sufficient umbrella holding onto one another going through life and life’s storms together. They were wrapped in the warm embrace of enduring love. I saw love on a cold, rainy street corner in New York City. Maybe one day, I can stop other city walkers in their tracks as my wife and I hold onto each other tightly under a small but sufficient umbrella.