Picture a wedding ceremony. For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer. Vows spoken in sincerity, solemnly, with stars in our eyes. Of course we all mentally hope that the worse and the poorer parts never happen. Then comes the big one. ‘Til death do us part. Statistically, under 50% of marriages go that far. Our marriage is 33 years toward that big vow. I don’t expect it to happen any time soon. But I have witnessed at least 3 significant demonstrations of that big scary vow, I suppose more if I think about it. I’ll stop with 3 and enjoy our memories and the moment.
Yesterday I talked about parting with friends. This morning I saw on my email the last installment of a long, hard series of updates on my friend’s husband’s battle with cancer. On his birthday, today, he woke up to tell his wife he had to go. And gently fell asleep in death. He was not yet 50. She had had a miserable abusive first marriage, divorced, met the love of her life, married, and had a little girl. Today is a vow fulfilled in love.
A week ago tomorrow we celebrated the life of a man who was instrumental in founding and building our church from the ground up in the early 70’s. He was taken home sooner than his wife. Bedridden, she was brought to the church by an ambulance and wheeled to the side of the husband who had kept post beside her bed in his recliner 24/7. They kept their vows and shared their devotion with everyone who cared to witness that vow completed.
I reluctantly flash back to my mom’s visitation 15 years ago. After greeting all the old friends and family many of whom he couldn’t remember anymore, my dad, in his Stetson hat, in the wheelchair, with the obligatory afghan over his knees, slowly rolled himself up to the front to look at the picture display, read each card on the flower arrangements, and look at mom. He reached his big gentle bear paw hand up to hers. On a cold Sunday evening in upper Michigan, Feb. 3, 1943, with stars in their eyes and facing a world war, he vowed his love and devotion to her until death parted them. Their 49 years ended in the same room at the nursing home. They kept their vows.
May God grant us longevity, devotion, and courage to keep even that scary promise.
My motives for sharing such solemnity is to provide a snapshot of a meaningful part of life, sticking it out through what life throws at us, staying not simply together but knitted to each other. It’s a statement of rock solid faith in marriage, each other, our futures, our commitments.
It’s a beautiful day. Make some beautiful memories. Live, love, laugh, and fear not. Just be there for each other, no matter what.