There’s one line in this story that stands out to me as the point, when Terri tells Laura to “Wait awhile” to see if her marriage is happy, and then after a pause says, “I’m only kidding.” She’s not kidding. This story is about love and the things done in its name. From the violence of Ed’s love to the stillness of the old couples’ love, this story is all about what we do for it. The end, though, is that the biggest thing we do for love is to give up ourselves. Mel and Terri aren’t happy, I can’t speak to Nick and Laura’s love. All four, though, have loved and lost in the past and through this story, will in the future.
I think that the critical element of this story is the old couple. The four sitting around the table speak of love in simple terms and simple affections, having been through the routine before. Love and hate intermixed with spite and nagging. It is the old couple, though, who hold the place of what love is for them all. The love in that couple is so strong that they cannot bear not to be able to see each other. Would Mel or Nick or Terri or Laura feel that way about each other.
As we fall in love, we give something of ourselves over, and if the love dies, it is never returned. But as love grows through the years, that thing given over blossoms and is returned greater and greater. I know there have been rough years with my wife and good years, but the longer we’re with each other, the stronger the bond between us grows. I know what the old man felt when he missed just seeing his wife.