I chose a window seat so I could lean against the side during the flight. I know it’s a risk picking that seat. You never know who you’re going to end up next to. But because the flight was long and I was running on minimal hours of sleep, I decided to go for it.

A couple took the two empty seats next to me. Grungy with stringy hair, they reeked of cigarette smoke and cheap cologne. I rolled my eyes and exhaled at my misfortune, silently judging them as they pulled out identical McDonald’s bags.

While trying to hide myself in my book,Β I noticed that while he has scarfed down his food, she was quietly picking at hers. I noticed her wedding ring…a simple band of gold nestled next to a circle of colored stones. A glance at his hand confirmed that the weathered band around his finger made him her husband.

The plane began to taxi the runway and tears formed in her eyes. “I can’t,” she said shaking her head. “You can,” he replied.

She leaned towards him and he wrapped his arms around her in a tight bear hug. And he held her in that hug the entire flight. All five hours of it.

Sometimes he would hold her hand or stroke her hair. Sometimes he would kiss her on the forehead.

But he never let her out of that hug.

As we made our descent over the bright lights of Chicago, I found myself tearing up. This couple–one that I clearly and rudely misjudged–represent what love is all about.

I smiled at them as I left the plane, saying a silent thank you with my eyes.

Then I pulled out my phone and dialed that familiar number.

“Two more hours, baby. I cannot wait to see you.”

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