Only One Face

I was leaving a concert last Friday night when I was stuck in a big crush of people trying to leave the building. Hundreds of people surrounded me coming down the stairs and pouring out of the doors onto the avenue in downtown Milwaukee.

All of them were strangers I was unlikely to see again. It was a sea of faces, and I did not recognize any. It’s a melancholy feeling being surrounded by people, all of whom have someone with them and you don’t.

As I descended the stairs I kept looking around me for one familiar face, but there wasn’t one. I was pressed forward into the crowd towards the street, carried away by the strangers around me.

Just as I reached the doors, a man grabbed me on the shoulder, and I turned around, startled. He was wearing a tux, and his eyes were smiling. In his left hand was a trumpet case. My Tom.

I grabbed his arm, and we made our way down the busy downtown street to the parking garage. On the way home, I thought about all the millions who have ever lived and all the billions alive today, and how among all those people, there is only one man’s face I look for. That’s the thing about love. Nobody else will do. No other face can light up your heart but one.

In that brief moment, I was reminded again of what a miracle real love is in this world that has so much hatred and so much pain in it. It isn’t something to take for granted, and if you have it in your life, do all you can to nurture and protect it. Thank God for that one and only person who loves you–the one and only face you look for in a crowd.

16 thoughts on “Only One Face

  1. Lori Glass says:

    When we are children that face we look for is our mother’s. When that face is gone from this earth it is hard but I know I will see her in heaven someday. I am so thankful to have my husband here now. Thanks for reminder to be thankful for what I have.

  2. Ingrid Schlueter says:

    Thanks, Cheryl. The reason I write so poignantly about Tom is because of all he is and all he has done for me and our children. He was my rescuer 16 years ago and I guess that about says it all.

  3. Becky says:

    Ingrid –


    I always look for my Erick’s face whether in a crowded room or just the two us across from one another in the living room.

  4. Lisa K says:

    How true this is! Ingrid you certainly hit the jackpot with Tom!
    My 24 year old son recently broke up with his girlfriend. He seems skeptical about finding that “right” person in the future. I told him it is rare but it does happen – I can’t imagine being with anyone but my husband.

  5. Donna says:

    oh, I know what you mean! Coming up on 27 years here. We live at the end of a long, curved shared drive way. Every morning, my husband walks down to the street to get the newspaper–he enjoys listening to the birds and checking on the yard on the way. And every morning, I smile when I see him heading back to the house with the paper. His coffee and breakfast are ready for him. I wouldn’t change that routine for anything.

    My parents were married for 52 years. Their faces always lit up when they saw each other. Thank you for this beautifully written, heartfelt post about such a precious gift.

  6. Mrs. C says:

    Oh I love this post, it is so true, makes me want to do something really special for my husband, who has been working so hard this week, longer hours. He is my one and only!

  7. Marilyn says:

    Just beautiful!

    My husband is the same for me. We will mark 35 years this fall. Right now it’s still difficult because he must travel for work every week and I only have him on Fridays and Saturdays. But every Thursday night I go to the airport to retrieve him, and my heart flutters when I see him coming down the escalator to the lobby.

    He is the reason that one day last winter I drove 45 miles to the airport (it took 3 hours!) in an ice storm (and 3 hours back!) to make sure he could be home. I don’t do ice for anybody!

  8. Lorraine says:

    Your words are so powerful Ingrid! This post brought out strong feelings in me that I suppose I have buried. I no longer have that special person in my life and I often think that those who do, need to remember how truly blessed they are. Cherish them and let them know how special they are to you!

  9. Donna says:

    Since this topic is so near and dear to my heart, I have a question to pose. Does behavior follow this feeling or does this feeling follow behavior?

    I ask this because I have seen people criticize their spouse in public. They will roll their eyes or snap when the spouse says something. Or they will disagree over the most trivial things. And I don’t believe those people have the same “oh, THERE you are!” reaction when they spy one another. In contrast, the people who really try to be good to their spouse, do seem to be the ones who have that feeling. Whether it is something like Marilyn’s beautiful example of driving to the airport in an ice storm (as opposed to thinking “oh, take a doggone cab!”) or making a special meal or leaving a small surprise or simply showing your appreciation for this wonderful person, I think that adds to the gratitude that is alof of the “THERE you are” reaction.

  10. Ingrid Schlueter says:

    Donna, you’re right. Who would be glad to see a face that represents inconsideration, emotional pain or even fear? Spouses have to live so they’re missed when they’re not around. If you want to nitpick, show cruelty or treat your spouse badly, you reap what you sow. That’s not to say that a spouse has to return the same behavior, but the one behaving in that way is never going to have that underneath deep love and respect he/she could have had. In fundamentalist churches I used to hear pastors thunder around about submission and wives obeying and respecting husbands. What they never said, and it’s the secret of all of it, is that when a man treats a woman with respect, consideration and constant kindness, he would have all the respect in the world he ever wanted (that’s if he has a normal wife.) In a lot of marriages, power struggles, cruelty, narcissism and ego stuff and just plain selfishness destroys that beautiful love that could have been there, and all it takes is one spouse failing to love the other that does it.

  11. Julie Goltermann says:

    Enjoyed this beautiful post so much! I feel the same way about my special husband. Tonight, I was working at our church’s fish fry, and I looked up, and there he was, standing there quietly and smiling at me. He had arrived after his work day, and now I could sit and share a meal with him. Thanks for expressing this feeling in such a beautiful way.

  12. Cheryl says:

    Since you posted “Only One Face”, I have thought it several times. The other day, I thought of Amy Carmichael’s poem “Face to Face”…and it seems to go along with this theme…

    O Love Divine, if we can see
    In our beloved so dear a grace,
    When Love unveils, what will it be
    To see Thee face to face?

    Just more food for thought…

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