Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

On Love and Death: Happy Anniversary to Us!

Thirty-nine years ago (depending on when you read this), my husband and I were officially joined as a married couple—for the good of his children. Neither of us was sure marriage was a good idea. Had we fallen in love with love out of intense loneliness? What in the world did we have in common—the divorced cop and the naïve would-be professor?

We spent our first two months fretting that we had made the worst mistake of our lives. Then my husband was nearly killed in a car accident. As I stood in the emergency room, staring at his feet in his holey socks—the only part of him that was easily recognizable—I knew why we were married. The electricity between us should have been visible. It almost ruptured my chest.

Last year as March began yet again, another car accident produced a more tragic result. Our son-in-law, who was born only three years before my husband and I met, died suddenly. My husband and I spent the day before our 38th anniversary attending a formal farewell that included our daughter’s devastated family. Her husband was not only her best friend, but also the best friend of each of their children, so that she and the children huddled together in abject grief when her 20th wedding anniversary arrived that fall. Their lives had been stabbed, creating immense wounds that are still seeping.

Looking at these two accidents, so far apart and yet similar enough, I should see something important. First, I see that death seems to be capricious. If threads exist to indicate who will stay longer and who will go sooner, we don’t or won’t see them. We prefer to pretend our bodies are immortal.

I read one study that concluded most people believe they will die peacefully while sleeping—when few do. We lie to ourselves because we like happy endings—or, rather, happy forevers. We look at our failing loved ones and insist on surgeries that will ensure only a painful last chapter of endless recuperation, because we cling to “what if.” In spite of our protests that we believe in an afterlife, when we love, we feel we never have enough time together here on Earth.

Second, I see that when the love is deep and real, letting go might be more painful than death. Recently, many media outlets carried the letter of a young, terminally ill wife who prepared a dating profile for her husband to use after her passing. Perhaps she has no intention of watching him from the Other Side as he spends his time sorrowfully waiting to join her. She wants him to live fully. She wants to enjoy his happiness. Certainly, few can love that purely.

One of my family members spent the many final years of her life smoldering with resentment that her husband had died and left her. She repeatedly cursed God for making her wait so long to be with him. She died inch by inch.

Third, I’ve learned that we can’t comprehend the immensity of our love for one another until it’s challenged or taken. I was surprised to realize how very much I loved my son-in-law. He reminded me not to take my husband for granted—even after 41 years. We aren’t married because we can’t live without one another, but because we choose to live together day by day; surfing the rough waves, splashing happily in the gleeful moments. Each morning when I wake to see my husband smiling at me, I’m thankful for a few more minutes. He tells me he loves me several times every day, and I listen each time and remind him that I love him, too. We are friends, roommates, family, and lovers.

I never scoff at love—regardless of whether it brings together friends, people of the same gender, a traditional couple, or even empathetic strangers. Love is never trivial, regardless of whether it’s romantic or brotherly or a combination of both. I accept that love is the one treasure we can take with us when we leave here, the voice that speaks for us both here and beyond.

“And now abideth faith, hope, and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

4 comments on “On Love and Death: Happy Anniversary to Us!

  1. Frances Sullivan
    March 11, 2017


  2. Kelly Smith
    March 11, 2017

    Thank you. You continue to touch lives. You are truly blessed with a gift.

    • Thank you, Kelly. You’re a special person, and I’m more than delighted if I write anything that brightens your life.

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