I take thee, to be my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, until death do us part.
If he only knew what those vows mean.
He does though. He always will.
Last Saturday, I stood as a groomsman at the very same altar where I was married to Megan. In the very same church where her brother was memorialized, three days before our wedding. In the very spot that Megan’s casket rested as her funeral mass was held. 50 feet from where Shelby was baptized. This church, with its ornate stone pillars, figures of saints, high, frescoed ceilings, and marble floors is a familiar enough place to me. Megan’s youngest brother was professing his vows to his new bride here. He was entering into a marriage, with the full understanding of what the vows meant.
I am not a religious person. I myself have never been baptized. I don’t go to church, and really, never give religion much thought. I was married in this very church because it was important to Megan, and her family. I did not partake in confession, or communion, or any of the other rites leading up to our wedding, because those sacraments, frankly, are unimportant to me.
What was important were the vows. I knew, long before stating them publicly, that they were not only true but likely to be tested before I reached middle-age. Indeed, they were, and I kept them truthfully. Hearing those words spoken by Megan’s brother understandably gave me pause. A slight feeling of warmth, followed by a chill, enveloped my core. I was happy for he and his new wife, but at that very moment, when I heard “until death do us part”, I could think of nothing else but of the moment I said it to Megan, 12 years ago.
This is not to say that the vows were less important to her brother. On the contrary, although his wife does not have a genetic, terminal illness, he has seen both of his siblings succumb to it. He has seen his sister marry and produce children, all the while knowing that she would not be there in the far too near future. He knows that those vows are sacred, whether one is using the term in the religious sense or not.
I was a 24 year old “kid” when I spoke those vows to Megan. I knew what they meant in an intellectual and figurative sense at the time. It wasn’t until three years ago that the final statement became literal. I was simply in love, and knew I wanted to spend as long as I could with Megan.
Her brother has witnessed first hand sickness and health. He has witnessed death doing part to a young couple. I congratulate him for finding the person he will be with, and I applaud him for making those vows when he would have a very compelling reason to shy away from them. For they were made with an even more critical eye than when I said mine.
As I stood there, witnessing another milestone in Megan’s family in that church, I wasn’t overcome with sadness. I wasn’t triggered or depressed to be standing there for the first time in 3 years, like I expected to be. I wasn’t thinking about her funeral, or her brother’s funeral, or even the fact that Megan simply wasn’t physically present. I was honored to still be a part of it all, along with Shelby.
And I was happy that, even after death has done us part, I am still able to honor my vows to Megan.