Till Death Do Us Part
A year and a half ago, my dear friend Janice lost Guy, her husband of 29 years, to cancer. Guy had a deep devotion to the Divine Mercy image of our Lord. In fact, he had the alarm on his phone set to go off at 3 p.m. every day to remind him to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Our Lord in His great mercy brought Guy home during the three o’clock hour on Divine Mercy Sunday, 2015. What a gift this was to his family to help carry them through the long road they had ahead as they mourned the loss of such a faithful husband and father.
While I cannot begin to fathom the immense pain and void Janice must feel, I have been blessed to see her strong faith sustain her through this deep valley in her life. She has a peace about her that surpasses all understanding. I have witnessed incredible beauty born out of the loss of the one she loved so deeply. Having nine children, five still at home, her cross is heavy and yet the way she carries it is inspiring! Her witness has challenged not only my own walk with Christ, but has also challenged many others who know her. Two of her sons have entered the seminary since the loss of their father, and new life has entered the world in the form of a grandbaby. Janice has allowed her faith to guide her and give her strength while her children witness their mother’s faith in action despite such great pain. In the absence of her spouse, life has gone on.
As I reflect on the life of Janice and Guy shared together in the Sacrament of Marriage, I am reminded of the vows they took on their wedding day: “I take you,… for my lawful husband, (wife) – to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.” For my girlfriend, death came for her spouse. They lived their vows for 29 years, in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad, in rich times and in poor, having and holding since June of 1985. Their marital union was an inspiration to many and the beautiful family they created in love will be the legacy of their love that will live on for generations to come.
Death is inevitable for all of us. In marriage, when a spouse is called home, it is the end of their sacramental life together; the vows once promised are now fulfilled. It is the Creator’s plan. Here on earth spouses are called to reflect in their marital union the love between Christ and His Church, but in Heaven this love is made perfect and the sacrament is no longer needed. The pain we will feel at the loss of our spouse will go as deep as the love we have for them. We should not fear to love deeply though. In marriage, this is our calling, and our gift of faith gives us the grace not only to live our vows in marriage, but it carries us when the sacrament is no more.
There were times early on in my own marriage that I was tempted to love my husband less out of fear of loss. Through prayer, education, and God’s grace I reached a point where I realized how foolish this was and I made a decision that if I was going to love, I was going to give it my ALL! It was not that I did not give of myself before, but because of past wounds I had held back a little, cautiously protecting the investment of myself. I was not giving a sincere gift of self the way God intends and it wounded my marriage. I now understand how immature and selfish my thinking was. Marriage is a journey of two souls bonded by a sacrament, living fully and loving intentionally. I want my marital journey to embrace all that God intends so when the day comes that God calls one of us home, I can say with conviction that I loved fully and gave unconditionally to my spouse, “till death do us part.”