I love to watch old couples. I look for them every time I am out and can’t help feeling a tug at my heart when I see them reaching for one another’s hands or bent over to make sure they hold the door for the one they love. I catch a bit of timeless beauty, a beauty that transcends this world as I watch these living testimonies to love, a love that has risen and stayed, despite all this cold, hard world has thrown at them. I attended the funeral of such a couple recently. It was actually only the wife who passed away, yet isn’t it the death of the couple too, when two who have been married for 56 years are suddenly separated? I was almost afraid to look at him, wondering what he might be without her. Yet, there he stood still at her side, stroking her face, adoring her just as he always had. He invited me to come to the casket and adore her too. My heart was moved by his words, “come and see my bride, isn’t she beautiful?” And I came, longing to move towards this perfect, transcendent love.
Her casket was adorned with pictures of their lives together displayed all above where she now rested, the perfect display of a life well lived, and one that is worthy of the rest she had now entered. And yet his words in my ear spoke of a love that was far from resting. They had met when she was only 14 and he had fallen in love with her immediately, even though he was four years older and knew he would have to wait to marry her. They married just before he went off to war and she stood beside him and gave him a hope to come home for, and once he made it home, they began a family.
She was funny, always using her gift of humor to carry them through the hard times. One time after experiencing a hard day at work, she had dressed up in a trench coat, and ONLY a trench coat, rang the doorbell and waited for him to answer before flashing him. She was a beautiful, silly, wonderful, fun loving, God honoring wife who had made his journey here all the more worth living for by her presence in it. He shared with me about their last night together, oh what a sacred moment to be let into the tender treasury of a wounded heart. I never want to forget it or take it for granted.
She had been ill for weeks and was confined to a hospital bed right next to their big bed they had shared together for so many years. She asked him if she could get in the “big bed” with him that night, how could he say no? For one last night he was able to hold her, his bride and his partner through life.
His daughters did not wake him the next morning when they realized that their mom had made her transition. It was the first night he had slept all night long, perhaps because he was able to hold on to his bride at last.
His last words to me struck my heart and painted such a perfect picture of what marriage truly is. “She was God’s gift to me, and I got to be the one to give her back to Him.”