I sat with an angel the other day.
I'm not even sure I believe in angels, really, but how else to explain the most unusual, most extraordinary encounter in the doctor's office.
I suppose my dead stare and slumped shoulders spoke of anxiety, exhaustion, melancholy even.
The nurse walked into the waiting room and asked if I was OK. "Yes," I answered. But I wasn't. She walked away.
When she returned again to start the twins' annual check up, saw their chart and the fact that there were two of them, she gave a knowing, "Oh, now I understand."
Turns out she's a mother of twins herself.
She charmed my two and eased their discomfort as she weighed and measured them then sent us back to the playroom to wait until a room freed up.
I went back to my internal stewing.
And, then, there she was. Seated beside me.
"When was the last time you went on a date with your husband?" she asked.
Silence. Followed by an uncomfortable laugh. When was it?
The garden was swallowed by weeds three weeks ago because I haven't been to tend it. Every morning, we pull clean underpants and search for socks from a mountain of laundry that I don't have time to fold. The file of e-mails from dear friends I need to respond to keeps growing. Bills need paid. Papers need filed. We need milk. Again.
A date? Just the two of us?
I feel triumphal when I get the kids fed, to school, bathed and brushed. When we just make it through the day.
"Is it written all over my face?" I asked.
"You have to do it." she said. "It's worth the effort, right?"
She held her left hand up. No wedding ring.
The naked hand punched me in the gut - HARD! - and took my breath clean away.
Some may have thought she overstepped her bounds. Considered her intrusive. But she diagnosed a malady and wrote an effective prescription faster than any doctor: a date.
Here's the remarkable thing and something I only thought of hours later: I recognize all the nurses. With four kids, I'm in the office ALL the time. But I've never seen her before and there she was - on the day I needed her most. Balm to my heavy heart.
When I thanked her, she told me that she always makes a point to talk to parents of twins. The strain of raising multiples is something others don't understand and it's particularly taxing on relationships, she said.
So, this weekend, Kent and I are leaving the gang with a babysitter and biking to the Lincoln Memorial. We ended our first date on the steps of the memorial talking, talking. And talking. Back when we didn't realize just how luxurious time, and quiet, can be.
We got engaged on the steps a few years later.
My guardian angel - with her simple gesture - probably did more to help my children than any doctor or nurse at that office ever will. They'll survive without us for a few hours on a Saturday morning. They'd have a much harder time without us as they grow.