There are no words.

They are on the ferry from Victoria to Vancouver and they are old. He more than she. Are they returning from a visit to see the great grandkids? Or resting up for it? He is asleep with his head in her lap as she runs her hand gently through his thin grey hair. She stares distractedly out over the water.

ES18Nothing is said, nor needs to be.

At the beginning of a relationship, in the frenzy of youth, there is a desperate need to speak. To say and confirm and discuss everything you see together. To comment, be clever and use the moment to lever affection, build the bond or define and establish territories.

Later on, during a long drive or a flight to a place that promises myriad topics for conversation, an extended period of silence will create great discomfort. A sense that the best is in the past. That something is missing. The absence of spoken words is seen to reflect a lack of love or caring. Or anything, in fact, key to being together.

The mercy is that over time, good and bad things happen and are talked about. Until they create an innate sense of sharing; a moment that needs no explanation or apology and that speaks “one” in volumes.

The old couple on the ferry are as unmoving and silent now as they were a half hour ago. Soon he will wake up and ask “where are we?”

And both of them will know.

12 years ago

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