“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made.Our times are in his hand who saith, ‘A whole I planned, youth shows but half; Trust God: See all, nor be afraid!”
I had the privilege of photographing a wedding last weekend, and of course hearing the traditional vows struck a sweet chord in me, as Vernon and I repeated the very same ones, both in court and in a fancy ceremony. When we were planning our own wedding, it was suggested that we use the classic vows because, not only were they easier to get through amidst the nerves, whenever we’d hear them again at a ceremony in the future, the words would resonate in our memories and hearts in a personal way.
Though I’m not sure of the exact version we chose, the words were more or less these:
“I, ___ take thee ____ to be my wedded wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till in death we part, and with this ring I thee wed, and with my body I thee honor, and pledge my faithfulness.”
You get the gist. A bit antiquated. But certainly meaningful, even if the words aren’t enough in themselves to keep every couple together.
We’ve only been married 8 years, it has not been a long life together. We are in our forties, some might say we got a late start (though it could not have happened any earlier for me.) Fortunately we have been together long enough through richer or poorer, that we’ve stood at least a little test of time and stress together.
More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes the better comes after the worse. ~Doug Larson
One part of the vow that has been coming back to me over the past 5 months (yes, its 5 months today!) is the “in sickness and in health” part.
Now, I’m no guru of romance, believe me…sometimes I’m surprised we made it even this far. I do think our situation would be incredibly hard to deal with if we were just dating or even newlyweds. The pressure of that commitment would be extra hard if we hadn’t already built a life together, no matter how in love we might have been. But I don’t have to think about the pressure. It’s a non-issue. I’m also not implying that our love is greater than an unmarried couple. I know unmarried couples that are at least as committed as I am, and probably a lot more romantic. Its just that sometimes I think about these vows and that symbolic one-ness that supposedly happens. And I realize… it’s happened.
For better or worse. In sickness and health.
Here is a picture of Vernon’s roommate and his wife. When she visits, she holds his hands and gushes over him. “Let’s not talk about the things that bother us,” I’ve heard her say. “Let’s use this time to talk about US.”
Its no wonder she acts like a newlywed, she told me they have been married for 7 years. There is a picture of them on their wedding day, and a note on the wall, saying: “To the Love of My Life.” Apparently, they had both been married for 50 years or so, and after their spouses each passed away, they rediscovered each other. How wonderful to have a new lease on love and life.
However, in the past few days, I’ve noticed the man has not been doing so well. And it reminds me again that its so different to be a young(ish) person caring for her husband than an old one.
…but that is the point, isn’t it? Till death do us part? Isn’t it the traditional dream to grow old with your love? And if that happens…one has to go before the other. Its honorable, but it must be heartbreaking…and lonely.
So again, I realize how lucky I am to be nursing a husband BACK to health. One day I may nurse my husband as he transitions out of life…or he me. But I don’t have to do it yet. Maybe when the time comes, it will mean more, because we had a second chance. Whereas some people have to navigate their loved one through Alzheimer’s or Dementia, I am doing the opposite. What a privilege to walk him OUT of memory-loss and back into the world of the vibrant and living.
He may not remember my name each day (yet) but he knows who I am…and he knows who to kiss.