The following was written by Grace Leuenberger.

This summer, we threw a party to celebrate my grandparents’ 70th wedding anniversary. They were college sweethearts who married on June 11, 1949, a few weeks after my grandma’s 20th birthday. My grandpa proposed in the living room of my grandma’s parents’ house in Erie, Pennsylvania. “It happened after they went to bed,” my grandma shared with me. “Grandpa was so nervous. I knew why!” she said with a smirk.

A couple of weeks after their anniversary party, my grandpa had a thoracic aortic aneurysm that landed him in the ICU. A few weeks later, my grandma ended up sick as well, partially from exhaustion brought on by the stress of having an ill 94-year-old spouse and partially because she herself is 90 years old. The state of her health meant that she had to move into supervised care at the retirement community, too, a change my (so) nice but (so) stubborn grandmother did not like.

I visited them last Saturday; it was the first time I’d seen them since the anniversary party. First I picked up my grandma from her wing of the nursing home before I pushed her wheelchair down a few hallways to where my grandpa receives care. When we arrived, he was sleeping. My grandma calmly put her hand on my grandpa’s leg and said his name: “Hal… Hal, Grace is here.” He woke up, a bit irked that someone had woken him up, but then attentive to my grandma’s presence.

We sat in a triangle formation in the lobby—wheelchair-chair-wheelchair. We chatted about my brother’s kids—their great-grandchildren, about how we love peanuts and maple syrup and eating ripe red raspberries right off the bush. By 4pm, my grandpa asked what time it was and then insisted I begin my (80-minute) journey back to Ohio so I wouldn’t have to drive in the dark. I agreed. I gave them both hugs and then told my grandpa it was time for me to take my grandma back to her room. His eyes widened and looked straight into my grandmas. “What?!” he replied with what could only be described as a tone of utter disbelief.

Where are we going?” What will happen later?” “What is happening now?”  he insisted, reaching over to grasp my grandma’s knee with his hand. Silently, my grandma kissed her fingers and pressed them on to my grandpa’s cheek and lips. He answered back with the same gesture. After a couple of rounds of finger-kisses, a nurse came and wheeled my grandpa away, and I steered my grandma back to her room. I said “Goodbye! I love you!” and then drove back to Ohio. I arrived home two hours before sunset.

Twenty-five is a vibrant age. Summers are spent attending weddings. Group texts contain news of pregnancies and promotions. Phone calls with friends exchange excitement for the future. My peers and I are at an age where our whole lives feel like they’re ahead of us—like we’ll never feel old or die. As I sat with my grandparents on an August afternoon, my life felt so different from theirs. And yet, as I heard my grandpa’s questions to my grandma—“What is happening now?” “Where are we going?” “What will happen later?”—I realized these are the questions I ask, too.

Whether you are 5, 25, or 95, we all want answers that make sense, answers that fulfill our hopes. We want security, to know we are loved by God, by others, by the ones we want to love us back. We want answers to all the questions we do not know, the ones that make us, too, to widen our eyes and plead: “What?!”  When my grandpa asked my grandma those three questions—“What is happening now?” “Where are we going?” “What will happen later?”—she didn’t exactly have concrete answers to give. But what she did have to give my grandfather was a gesture: a steady hand on his knee, her fingers pressed to his lips from hers as to pass on a kiss. And in many ways, that was her answer. “I am here.” “I love you.” “I will see you again.

At age 25—an age of planning, hoping, doubting, and asking questions about the future that lies ahead of me—I am grateful for the love lesson my grandparents taught me in the nursing home lobby. My gratitude isn’t because I’m trying to collect marital advice; it’s because I need to be reminded that the good things, the pure things, the lovely things in this world all point back to something greater. My grandparents’ seventy year-long marriage, their nursing home lobby kisses, are examples of what C.S. Lewis called “a quieter love” that is “reinforced by the grace which both partners ask, and receive, from God.” God’s grace is the only reason such longevity in love can exist. It’s the only reason love can exist for any length of time. Without grace, there is no marriage, no grandchildren, no conversations in nursing home lobbies, no goodnight kisses. The marriage my grandparents began at age 20 and 24 on a warm June day in 1949 has certainly had its flaws, but at its best, it is a love woven together with the gleaming threads of the Gospel. Their quieter love is a testimony of a promise of a greater love that will never grow old, never forget, never die.

Sometimes it is hard for me to feel close to God, to see his movements. But in the lobby of a nursing home on an August afternoon, I caught a glimpse of his love. It lives in the people sitting in the wheelchairs right next to me.