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Its well over 50 years since I uttered that phrase. The young lady standing next to me at that time used exactly the same terminology as together we entered that unique and exclusive relationship that we call “marriage”.  

On that sunny July afternoon, 1964, we promised each other that we would honour this mutual commitment come what may.

The only exclusion clause that we allowed was the one at the end of those vows, “…. until death do us part." And we had no control over that factor whatsoever.

In the very early hours of a cool April morning, 2015, that exclusion clause became a reality and death separated us. Our vows that we had honoured together were terminated and the relationship of more than 50 years came to an end.

Or did it?

What is to be my attitude towards that relationship now? I still ‘feel’ married to Bev. I continue to refer to her as my wife. Since there is no such thing as a perfect marriage I can’t claim that ours was an exception, ours was certainly a very fulfilling bond for which we often expressed heartfelt gratitude to each other and to our God.

I still wear my wedding ring and I have no intention or expectation to ever remove it. I guess it remains on my wedding finger as a tangible reminder – a reminder of the prospects before us when we exchanged rings and now the memories behind us as I  keep wearing this ring.

I’ve never carried a photo of Bev in my wallet for all those years. I do now. Recently I heard that one of my colleagues, whose wife died from cancer, had remarried.  I genuinely rejoiced at that news and I want the best for both of them but the idea of remarriage has no place in my thinking about the future.

I don’t want to be misunderstood here. To say that I sorely miss my beloved is to make the mother of all understatements! My grief and sense of loss are still acute after 18  months. Add to that the grieving that I experienced – particularly in the 12 months leading up to Bev’s death – and we are talking about a process that has continued for at least two and a half years.

Yet, for all that recognition of grief and loss, I carry in my heart a sense of completion as I think about our life together. Sure, I find myself wandering in and out of memory lane which is most often triggered by a photo or two.

“……a sense of completion….”  Interesting. I think that sense comes about because of the many dreams and opportunities that came our way and which we shared together. We have been so blest with three great kids and five granddaughters. Family life was a joy for both of us.  Our life’s work has been very fulfilling. Bev loved her role as a Registered Nurse and I was privileged to be a Pastor. We took time to travel over the years.

“… until death do us part." Just what does that mean? So far as I can recall, that phrase is not found in the Bible. In what sense do we use the word “death”? For that matter, I wonder about the word “part”?

I think most readers would agree that ‘death’ certainly refers to physical death. But my marriage to Bev involves much more than our physical union. We share a relationship that has a huge emotional dimension. If we have a life that goes beyond the grave and involves a conscious existence, what is the current status of our relationship in the heavenly realm?

“Part” means “separate” us from each other so that we can no longer relate to each other as we did when we both lived in this realm.

In the same way that a wedding certificate doesn’t make a marriage, neither does a death certificate terminate a marriage.

Or does it?

Things start to get a bit complicated now!

Let me leave it at that point for now. I’ve got some heavy thinking to do around this subject so I’ll meet you at Barney’s place next time for part 2


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