I know that couple. I know them. How do I know them?
I wracked my brain, skimming the files of faces, trying to connect the dots. The Jeopardy countdown theme plays in my head.
Aha! A marriage conference almost eight years ago.
"I think we've met. My husband and I attended a marriage conference years ago, and I believe we met you there." I offer another clue. "I was pregnant... and I went into labor in the elevator."
Their faces light up; he points to me. "That was you! Oh, yes, we remember you. Your story has gone down in marriage conference folklore: the couple who went into labor in the jammed elevator. Oh, yes. You two aren't easy to forget. Although, I have to say, you look different now."
Well, I would sincerely hope so. I was enormously pregnant with Tyler. Let's hope a few things have changed about my appearance since those final months of his incubation.
I haven't seen them in seven years.
They don't know.
I tell them.
Their tears bless me; tears always do.
"He took such good care of you, didn't he? Oh, yes, we remember. You were so pregnant, and he always brought a hotel pillow to the conference room to help you find a comfortable position in those hotel chairs. He took such good care of you."
Yes. You remember well. What a gift to my heart, to see someone who knew him, me, us, even for only one shared weekend.
It takes time to know and be known.
Robb and I had so much fun on that weekend together. We laughed about so many things, not the least of which was the whole elevator debacle. The three days were to be technology-free, and I really didn't think he could go a whole weekend without a football score. But he was the more insistent of the two of us, keeping the TV, radio, and computer off from beginning to end.
On that conference retreat, Robb and I learned a pattern of writing letters to each other.
(Let's think for a moment what a challenge this was for my husband. This would be the equivalent of asking me to spend a weekend expressing my love by building complex structures with Legos and TinkerToys. Wowsers. But he did it. He showed me that I matter, my communication style mattered to him. He wrote letters to me all weekend.)
In all my remembering of that weekend so long ago, I so badly wanted to talk to him. I wanted to recall with him, - the other couples in that elevator with us, the floral pattern in the conference room, the session activities, the conversations behind closed doors, the faulty coffee maker in our hotel room.
I'm the only one who carries those memories now. The shared history. It's only mine now. I can tell someone about those details, but only he knows them the way I do.
It takes time to know and be known. And now, no matter what comes next, I have to start over.
I don't have his glances, laughter, and stories to remind me: Hey, I remember that. I get you.
But I do have his letters from that weekend. And that is no small thing.