In sickness and health, till death do us part…these words used to be spoken in every marriage vow. Nowadays, they are considered old fashioned. There are so many other ways to part now, but 35 years ago today, we included those words in our vows. Little did we know the till-death-do-us-part part of our vows would come along so quickly and continue to visit us regularly. There have been days where that vow alone is what kept us together because spoke it to each other, but we also spoke it to God. And in those hard moments, where death was knocking at the door, God is the one who carried us…him and him alone.
On the day of the vow we didn’t know what we were saying. Not really. How can you understand at 21 the brevity of life? How can you know the fragile nature of every breath in those healthy invincible years? How can you know that life can change in a millisecond? You can’t. I don’t think you can ever know, until you are face to face with the reality that every day you live is a miracle of enormous proportions. So many things that have to happen correctly every day for us to walk and talk it is mind-blowing. Even to breathe, all the physical parts have to function in very specific ways, and if any one of those things isn’t just right, no breath and you are gone. Once we were introduced to that reality, we gained a new appreciation of each other. It was a new commitment to these words that were spoken when we were kids with our whole future in front of us.
The beautiful part about this vow is that we made it when the future was unknown. We trusted, maybe naïvely, but we fully trusted that whatever came, we would be able to handle it. That God would uphold us and we would make it through. There was comfort in the idea that we would not be alone in life’s ups and downs. We would be together. Always.
Now I am watching Mom and Dad, and seeing what that kind of commitment looks like up close. I am reading articles about couples who have been married 72 years, and I am thinking we are not even half way there yet! I am aware, now that I am older, that being together isn’t always fun and games. Sometimes it is hard. Sometimes it would be easier to go it alone, but the vow prevents it. The promise. The trust. None of that has been broken or violated for us.
The love, the gritty kind that sticks it out in the tough times, creates a bond that cannot be broken. When I taught Bill how to eat and walk, or when he held my hair when I was vomiting, and let me squeeze his hand off when medical procedures were happening to my body…it changed the dynamics. The starry-eyed love grew some deep roots. The romance transformed from physical intimacy to emotional into-me-see. I wouldn’t trade the till-death-do-us-part parts of our lives for all the happy times, and there have been a multitude of happy times. The blessings are abundant every single day.
We changed another part of our vows. Instead of I take you as my husband/wife. We said I receive you as my husband/wife. One word. Receive. As a gift. 35 years ago, I was given a great gift in my husband. Since that time, even the till-death-do-us-part parts, have been gifts. All of life is a gift. Here’s to 35 more years!