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The Life Following “Until Death Do Us Part”

This is a different kind of post. It’s from an email written by a friend of mine in his eighties whose wife is dying. He shared this update with a lot of friends by email and so I don’t think he would mind me sharing it with you. I wanted to post this not only to show the dignity he brings to the tragedy of losing a wife, but to the snapshots he recounts here of the life that unfolded after he and his wife promised to be together until parted by death.

I arose early this morning to lay in bed and watch the darkened sky be washed in shades of grey. Toby, our Bichon we acquired in April and who I now see as a gift from God, pawed at the grating forming the door to his sleeping crate. I arose, left him out and lifted him on my bed where he promptly went to Lynn’s side, his nose hoping to acquire that familiar odor he loved and his tiny teeth eager to once again gently nip her arm – but such was not to be. His demeanor told me that both of our hearts were aching at the sight of a vacant pillow that had been occupied by Lynn’s tousled reddish-grey hair just one week ago. 

Toby made his familiar rounds of our back yard while I hastily showered, dressed and prepared his breakfast. He watched with questioning eyes as I scratched his back and bid goodbye before closing the door to our sun porch. Fifteen minutes later I was at Lynn’s bedside kissing her forehead, caressing her cheek and whispering words of love and devotion into her ear. She seemed at rest though her breath indicated phlegm in her air passages.

As I sat at her bedside and held her hand in that early morning hour I could almost sense God’s presence as His peace erased the feeling of anxiety experienced during the short drive to Odyssey Home. How kind and loving our gracious God has been to lead us to this wonderful hospice where our entire family can gather in a homelike room for love,  laughter, tears and prayer.

Looking at her lovely face brought back a flood of memories and I couldn’t help but think of those pictures of by-gone days as God’s great gift to me. Through the prism of tears that bathed my eyes I again saw with greatest clarity the beautiful young air evac nurse, standing in her quonset-hut quarters at Ft Stotsenburg, Luzon, PI on May 5, 1945 and indicating that she was to be my blind-date. How fortunate I felt at the moment. Six of us crammed into a jeep and left for our squadron party and before the night was over I was deeply in love. 

Other scenes flashed before my eyes in rapid succession – proposing in the back seat of a jeep – a vision of beauty coming down the aisle of a thatched-roof chapel where she took my hand and promised to remain at my side “until death do us part” – reuniting in Chicago in November after an agonizing 2-month separation – our first child – our first apartment – the births of 3 other children – first home – trips, vacations – growing children – empty nests – different jobs – and now these final years that have been heavenly in nature. As the scenes unfolded, so clear that I could again experience the emotions and embrace the odors, I came to realize that memories are God’s great gift to each of us. I know that within hours or days our Savior, who is already in the room with us, will reach out and take Lynn in his loving arms to carry his bride to the home he has prepared for her. But I also know that God has filled my mind with memories that will fill my days and ease my nights. What a wonderful thoughtful God to have given us this wonderful gift.

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