“‘Til death do us part.”
This, or some variation on this, is said at every traditional wedding ceremony. It’s a heavy line on such a happy day, and we barely ever dwell on the heft of it.
Losing a loved one is never easy. All throughout life, we know that the inevitable is coming, yet when it actually comes, it still seems entirely unfathomable. There comes a sinking feeling in your stomach, and an unfillable emptiness burrows inside of you. Saying those final goodbyes is one of the hardest things we’ll ever have to do.
When a couple has been married for decades, by each other’s side through the thickest of thick and the most papery-thin of thin, that final farewell brings on the deepest emotions. The love that has grown over the years spills out as an undefinable sadness. Bobby arrived at the visitation period an hour ahead of time to spend every last moment with her that he could. He bent down, trembling, to kiss her lips for one final time. Then he told her softly:
“I know you can’t hear me, but I love you.”
For the hour until family started to trickle in, he sat quietly with her, reaching out to touch her hand and connect with her while he still could. When it came time for others to say their goodbyes, he remained there with her, commenting on how good she looked, still. He didn’t want to waste any of the last moments with his dear wife, so he sat there for almost five full hours.
In the original Facebook post, the author passionately notes that,
“This man, this devoted man, had shown more grace in his time of grief than many do in times of plenty. I stood by in awe, watching faithfulness on display. Never had I seen a man so broken, robbed of his happiness by the curse of death. I wondered as I watched him, what would he do tomorrow and the day after that? Today was the easy part.”
The days that come after are even more unfathomable than saying goodbye. How do you go back to real life after losing your very best friend?
“Tomorrow, after she is laid deep in the ground, and he returns to their home, what then? Her things will still be there – the smell of her skin, scribbled grocery lists, her favorite chair, leftovers in the fridge, their bed. Their bed. How does one sleep alone after 59 years of lying next to your best friend? I can’t imagine ever sleeping again. Today, I witnessed a story of love. And I shall witness it again tomorrow when the story finally ends, and the stage is empty, and the lights go dark.”
Bobby’s life will never be the same. It will be lonelier, it will be quieter. However, what would the past 59 years have been if he hadn’t loved at all, setting himself up for this most intense heartbreak?
Life is full of sadness, but you can’t sacrifice the years of happiness out of a fear of the end. True love, the love that Bobby felt for his wife, is the love that will bring the most joy, but also the kind that will hurt the most.
But it’s so, so worth it. This is the kind of love everyone deserves to feel during their short lifetime here on this earth.