Posted by: chlost | July 14, 2014

When you find out what those vows really mean

Life certainly can bring ups and downs.

This past weekend, we attended Merle’s nephew’s wedding. He is a great kid. They have been together for the past seven years, as they began dating when he was 20 and she was 17. The biggest memory of the wedding day will definitely be that he had to wear his dad’s pants. The khaki slacks that he had planned to wear for a relatively casual wedding suit split across his bottom in a way that defied any attempt at repair. So he wore his dad’s slacks and dad wore a pair he’d worn the day before. No one would have known, but the family had some good laughs over it all.

I am always curious to see what the wedding couple uses for their vows. This couple was married in the Catholic Church. As I expected, they used the traditional “ good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, ’till death do us part”. They are young. They have no idea exactly what that means. Young couples have no idea as to how good the good times may be, or how bad the bad times will be. And they certainly are not thinking about sickness and health as they stand up there in the fancy wedding clothes with all of their friends and family all around them.

If they did, no one would get married.

While we were there, I got a voice mail message from a friend- telling me that our third friend’s husband was just diagnosed with lung cancer and is expected to live only a few months. No one saw that one coming. He has dementia and really has no idea of what that means. He had a lung x-ray last January which showed nothing. He went in to the doctor on Thursday for a cough, had an x-ray and there was a fist-sized tumor in his lung which had collapsed a section of the lung.

No wonder he was coughing.

My friend and her family are in shock. She and her husband have five adult children. They have struggled with the dementia. My friend is the only one he seems to know on a regular basis. Sometimes he recognizes their children, other times he does not. And now this.

This news is a bit hard to take in. My friend has been stretched to the limit in trying to meet her husband’s needs, those of her children and grandchildren, and dealt with the death of her own father just this past year. She works full time. She commutes a long distance in order to allow her husband to remain in their familiar home. She is a person who has energy that just radiates from her. Yet she has admitted to us that she cries with frustration, anger and sadness when she is alone.

Of course she does.

I imagine that there would be mixed feelings about this diagnosis. Perhaps a bit of relief that her husband will not suffer with the end term of dementia. With some guilt for feeling some relief. Maybe in the back of her mind some relief that she will not have to deal with his end term dementia condition. And guilt over that feeling.

And, of course, grief, sadness and anger over his impending death at the age of 60. Just at the time when many of our friends are planning a retirement together, she will be a widow.

In the meantime, I am hoping to be able to lend a hand in whatever way possible, even if just to pass the tissues to her.

One weekend….celebrating the beginning of a life together for two young people and learning of the end of a life together for two others.

I’d really prefer a little more time in between the ups and downs of life.



  1. Lfe…it takes time, patience and a glass of wine now and then. Married for 28 years and still trying to figure it out. And then, the next thing you know is the last thing ou know. You describe the emotions as I have experienced them….RJV

  2. That is a lot of up and down close together. When we’re young, I don’t think we really comprehend the magnitude of the ‘sickness’ part of the vow (or how bad the ‘worse’ can be!)

    I’m with you – no one would get married 🙂

    • It is a bit like the saying that youth is wasted on the young. A good marriage can only be built over many years. But “kids” getting married often think that they are already there. Thanks Janna.

  3. We don’t get to pick the schedule of these things, unfortunately, and the universe does seem to have a way of pairing life and death. It’s hard.

    • Apparently the universe doesn’t give a damn about any of it…..despite what I’ve been told.

  4. I cannot remember how I came across your blog. But I read it faithfully and often resonate with your posts. This one inspired one of my own:

    • Thank you. I loved your post, and appreciate the link. I can’t believe I am at this age (birthday is coming up soon…which I take with gratitude, but the numbers are becoming a bit of a shock) so soon. And the years of marriage are now way beyond my imagination when we started this whole married life thing. Looking forward rather than back.

  5. I feel a bit of “oof” in my gut and “ugh” in my heart as I read this post–the coupling of beauty and hope against sadness and endings. Oof. Ugh.

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