Marriage on the downhill side of fifty is different from marriage in my twenties. Back then, death, illness, cancer, retirement, were all far off phenomena, not on my radar screen. Life was long and we had years ahead of us before we would have to deal with such things, or so I thought. Even lack of employment was no concern. We were young and healthy and had many earning years ahead of us to amass a small fortune and retire—not that that had been on our minds either. We were confident in God’s providential care for us.
I still believe in God’s providential care but it’s a little harder when you are aware of so many good people who have suffered so much for seemingly no good reason. Leads one to pause and ponder the inequities of life like the writer of Ecclesiastes.
At fifty-seven I am far too aware of the passing of the years. Good friends have come and gone. Some have been cut down in their prime, others gone after a life well lived. All are losses. I’ve set with widows and widowers after the death of a spouse and know far too well their pain to enter lightly into this commitment. Who would sign up for such heartbreak? And yet that is the reality for each of us young or old when we marry, that “till death” comes eventually to everyone. As C.S. Lewis said, “The pain now is part of the happiness then, that’s the deal.”
One of us will die, leaving the other behind. We will no doubt have our share of illness to contend with as we age, but we will have each other to lean on and for support as the other supports in our life slip away, as eye sight fades, hearing diminishes, and bones snap, crackle and pop.
Life is so much more precious for being limited. Marriage is so much more precious, knowing it is limited, that the time we have together has perimeters that we will cross someday. In the meantime, we celebrate the day, our lives and our love, grabbing all the joy from this life that our human hands can grasp. And so, aware of the possibilities that life holds out for us and the reality of death, we still say, “I do.”
Happy Valentine’s Day!
This entry was posted in On Life and Writing
. Bookmark the permalink