He held her hand and smiled. She looked a little confused but smiled back at him with the smile that still made his heart skip a beat. To him she was still the beautiful woman he had fallen in love with some forty years ago. How time flies he thought to himself. Has it really been this long? Where did the time go? He looked at her again, and for a moment he was transported back in time to the first time he laid eyes on her across the crowded room. Friends had encouraged him to go on a cruise to try to find his way after losing his wife to cancer and try to raise his two sons alone. He had kept to himself for most of the cruise just enjoying the peace and quiet of being alone. But this night he had decided to go to the top deck where in a ballroom under the starry sky people could be heard laughing and enjoying music and dancing. It was difficult at first, because dancing was something he and his wife had enjoyed. Then he saw her. She, like he, was alone and looking rather out of place in the romantic swirling throng of couples. She had on a simple blue gown, somewhat old fashioned, that flowed around her tiny body reminding him of a movie star from the fifties. She had blonde hair that curled around her face and there was a blush of sun on her cheeks and innocence in her eyes that made her look younger than her years. She sat with her hands folded properly in her lap and was also watching couples move around the dance floor with a wistful look on her
“I wonder what she is thinking, remembering, longing for” he thought. Then, without realizing it, he found himself standing to his feet and moving through the crowd towards her, as if some irresistible force were drawing them together. She smiled shyly as he approached and extended her small hand. He swallowed hard. . .”May I have this dance?” he asked. She nodded slowly barely looking him in the eyes. This seemed to tell him she too had suffered some hurt or disappointment. He took her in his arms and they began to dance and as if on cue the band began to play “Strangers in the Night”.
How sweet the memory was. . . washing over him like a balm. Now here they were again sitting together in a crowded room but this one was in an Alzheimer’s unit in a small nursing home. His beloved wife now had very little memory of her past or even where she was. The anchor that held her in all of the confusion was his love. When he arrived each morning after breakfast she would smile as he approached her and say, “I know you.”
He would smile and say, “Who am I?”
She would reply with a shy smile, “Someone I love.” His name now escaped her, but her heart would never forget.
He would smile back at her and say, “That’s right, my darling, I am the one you love.” There they would sit for hours holding hands — very few words spoken, just being together.
Sometimes he would begin, without thinking, to hum the melody of their song, “Strangers in the Night,” and she would join him softly singing the familiar words. Then, there would be that moment, that ethereal moment when time and space were no longer relevant and the two of them would be locked in the memory of that first embrace, first dance, first moment when they knew they were lovers at first sight, in love forever.
It did turn out so right for Strangers in the Night.