I noticed a couple as I was waiting in the security line at the Greenville–Spartanburg International Airport.
She was a well-dressed woman in her fifties with flowing, curly dark hair—accompanied by a dapper fellow with a crew cut.
Once I went through the metal detector, I noticed she was leading him by the hand—and his gait was slow and hesitant.
Then I saw her struggling to gather up their carry-on bags, so I asked if I could help.
And when I picked up the backpack, the man behind me pitched me in too, toting another bag for them.
“You’re such blessings!” she exclaimed with a huge smile.
As we headed toward the elevator, we introduced ourselves, and when I shook her husband’s hand, he grinned, but remained silent.
They were Hazel and Eric, she told me—and then whispered, “He has Alzheimer’s.”
In the brief time that our little, impromptu group journeyed toward the gate, Hazel and I formed a bond—and I instantly admired her.
Because, you see, despite what had to be a huge trial, she was upbeat and calm.
They had been married 33 years, she told me—the same amount of time I’d been married. And when I mentioned my husband had died 20 months ago, her eyes brimmed with tears.
My own eyes threatened to overflow, when I saw how tenderly she treated her husband— patiently leading him to a comfortable chair by the gate, where she shared snacks with him.
The love between them was palpable—a sign of the unbroken bond existing between husband and wife, even, as the vows state, “in sickness and in health.”
I bought a local newspaper, where columnist Michael Gerson wrote that every life has “unearned suffering or stinging injustice.”
“And then there are the unspeakable things—the death of a child, the diagnosis of an aggressive cancer, the steady advance of a disease that will take our minds and dignity.”
In such painful trials, he wrote, we have a glimpse of Jesus’ feeling of abandonment on the cross—but also realize God stands with those who suffer.
“He is forever on the side of hope.”
These words seemed a fitting testimony to the scenario of love unfolding in the airport.
After all, it was the usual scene—people dragging suitcases along, toddlers complaining, folks eating lunches while plugged into technology, checking social media.
But in the midst of the busy throng, this couple evoked the stirring words from a psalm: “My hope is in the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”
They also brought to mind Christ’s words, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Before I boarded the plane, I saw Hazel again, and we hugged as we said goodbye. She promised to pray for me, and I offered her the same gift.
We were two strangers in an airport filled with travelers and probably will never meet again—at least not on this earth.
But I will never forget Hazel and Eric, and the cross they carried. Nor will I forget their silent witness to the supernatural hope God bestows on those who suffer.
OTHER NEWS: As Atlanta diversifies, Sunday isn’t the only day of worship anymore.
Lorraine has written eight books available on-line, most recently “Death Dons a Mask,” a humorous mystery set at a Decatur church. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org