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Just 40 Feet

Priscilla Shirer | Oct 27, 2014

Jerry and I sat down at our gate for a few moments to wait until the attendants started boarding our plane to Dallas.

Denver’s airport is pleasant. Clean, which is always especially nice, and lined with windows that let in loads of sunlight. It’s airy and roomy despite the lines and luggage and occasional, frantic passenger brushing passed your elbow to catch their flight.

Next to us, a man dressed in comfy travel clothes and surrounded by several pieces of baggage, looked up from his cell phone and nodded a greeting – the kind that strangers offer just to be polite. We smiled back and got settled.


The man called out to his wife who stood a healthy stone’s throw away. She was clearly looking for him. Maybe she’d gone to the restroom or the nearest magazine stand to grab some good reading for the journey, but now she’d returned from her errand and was looking for her husband.

She didn’t see him.

So many moving parts whirling around her – people and luggage and PA announcements clouding her attention.

“Juuuu – deeee”.

He hoisted himself upward a bit and called louder while waving with a tall, outstretched arm. She still seemed hazy and turned her back, gawking in the opposite direction, squinting. She heard nothing. Saw nothing.

The poor guy turned to us with a loving smirk on his face and muttered something about how curious it is that forty feet of separation can sometimes feel like miles.

It’s true.

Bench Couple

Sometimes, in marriage, just a little space, even just a narrow sliver of emotional distance can be enough to blossom into a chasm of separation that seems irreparable, especially with all the distractions and noise luring your attention away from each other. He’s sleeping right next to you at night, sharing the same electric blanket or drinking coffee across the same table or sitting inches away on the sofa watching the show the both of you agreed to Tivo and yet, the distance is, well . . . distant. And it balloons and swells over time. Feels like you are worlds away, even though you’re in the same room. The air is stagnant, sterile and cold; the atmosphere devoid of heart and passion and all the things that make you feel loved and human.

So close. But so far away.


Lonelier than if you were just sitting on the sofa by yourself.

The husband in the Denver airport finally got his wife’s attention, but he had to exert a lot of effort and consistency to do it. And that’s the thing – someone has to be willing to exert the effort, to cross the chasm, to dodge the distractions and inhibitions that are keeping the two of you apart. There has to be one humble enough and in love enough to take the walk across all forty feet to grab the hand and heart of their partner and bring them back.

My spouse has recently done this for me.

Maybe you’re the one to do it for yours.

Jerry and Priscilla

I’m so eternally grateful . . . and your spouse will be, too.