Til Death Do Us Part

It’s the last phrase in the old, traditional wedding vows. The couple claims to do a bunch of stuff to keep their marriage going and then finally swear they’ll do it until death separates them. It’s a pretty remarkable claim. The checklist covered in the vows is never checked again or referenced for the rest of the marriage. In the twenty years I’ve been married, we’ve never dragged those vows back out to remind one another what we claimed we would do. When we run into trouble and go see a counselor, he or she never asked for a list of our vows and then asks how we’re doing.

Now that I think about it, I think if I could go back, I would add some more practical vows for my wife to say to me like “I promise to not wake you up when you’re snoring at 800 db at night -TIL DEATH DO US PART- “. If my wife would have made me say “I promise to adore you when you haven’t shaved in a week, have your hair in a bun, and haven’t used makeup” -TIL DEATH DO US PART-“, I would have to consider on a more realistic level what I’m committing to. Those kind of things would make people think twice when they’re saying them or thinking about saying them. No one cares about committing to the “for richer or poorer” part when all they’re thinking about is warm and fuzzy marriage(sex}. Throw a commitment to bad breath in there and you got a survivor challenge. The challenge of a relationship lies in the day to day details and not so much the definition.

It doesn’t matter what you claim, the deeper meaning of any vows you come up with is that you’re in it for the long haul…”for better or for worse”.

My wife’s mom and dad have been married 60+ years. Her mom is coming to the end of a decade long struggle with Alzheimer’s. She will pass away in the next day or two. Death will divide Robert and Wanda until they see each other again in eternity. They have completed their vows. They have both not only succeeded in doing all that stuff they vowed to do, they should receive awards on their style in making it. My wife and I have only been married for 21 years in May. We’re rookies in comparison with Robert and Wanda. They been great models throughout our time together.

This week is going to be tough on our family, but it will be especially hard on my wife. She has already lost two sisters over the period of time her mom has had this dreaded disease. I have horrible memories of her sisters’ deaths because I was not very helpful or supportive of my wife when they died. Not because I’m a coldhearted ass but because I am mentally and psychologically unable to properly handle death. I’ve seen people die, I’ve seen dead people, friends have died, my mom and dad both died. A friends wife died of cancer and I never went to see her. It was a long time ago but I regret that to this day. I can’t tell you why I did that. It’s very confusing, shadowy area of my life. Oh, and I do not do viewings at funerals. That’s a big nope. (The funeral process is a whole other blog post). I’m not scared of death for myself. I believe that Jesus Christ died for me and everyone else on the cross and I don’t worry about that.

I dived into facing this newest scenario. I went to see my mother-in-law twice now since she’s become completely incapacitated. It is incredibly uncomfortable for me. The first time, I had to walk out of the room. I stood in the hallway staring out a window thinking about Wanda. There was a big field outside the hospice window with green grass, trees, flowers and a big fence. I thought, she will soon be enjoying those things again very soon and I’ll still be on this side of the fence. I felt the presence of God while I stood there.  I almost said out loud “You are with me though”. I then felt God impress upon me that I need to be there for my wife on this side of the fence. I need to be present for her every moment.

I’m understanding now that death is really a nuclear blast where the ripples from the blast can go on forever and their directions are unpredictable. It is was not God’s normal plan for us. It should be an uncomfortable reminder of how we are a mist in this world. We can’t plan for the aftermath. We can only be present for one another until we get through it. I don’t have to respond perfectly or fix anything. I can cry, sit down or laugh. I can’t escape it so it is foolishness to hide and hope it goes away. I have to be present.

Robert and Wanda will successfully finish their vows. Stacey and I will live to see another day(God willing) and one day finish our vows as well.

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