I was walking the dog one day last week when I saw them again.
I’ve seen this elderly couple several times before, walking in the neighborhood together, but not really together.
The woman is always in front, shuffling her feet along the sidewalk at a snail’s pace. About ten paces behind her is where her husband is, moving his feet at the same speed. I haven’t ever seen them talking. I’ve never seen the woman wait for her husband, or her husband try to catch up to her. They are a pair, though, because I never see one walking without the other.
The sight of them and the never-changing distance between them makes me sad. In my mind I try to imagine the life they’ve had together, and I wonder if the obvious divide in their relationship was caused over time or faster, maybe with some catastrophic event.
Or maybe there is no divide, really. Maybe it’s all in my head, being a total stranger and all. Maybe there isn’t anything sad happening between the two of them at all. After all, they are still together. Though they aren’t sharing the same concrete sidewalk squares as they walk, they are still walking together.
I guess none of us can predict what a lifetime together will do to our best relationships. All I know for sure is that plan to do everything in my power to make sure that my husband and I will be walking down the street the same way forty years from now as we do today: taking each step together on the same squares of sidewalk, with the sun coming from behind to elongate our shadows so much that the only truly recognizable feature is the place where our hands are joined.
©2010 Suburban Scrawl