Love, Life, and Death

by Hallie @ Moxie Wife on November 26, 2013

Dan, the kids, and I attended Valerie and Nathan’s wedding just over two weeks ago. It was such a high, I can’t even tell you. I came back wanting to write a post that simply said: CRASH ALL THE WEDDINGS!!!

We don’t often get to attend weddings together. I see now that this has been a mistake. We should have been breaking down the walls of the local young adults group begging them to befriend us and invite us to all their ceremonies. Because the romance at these weddings? It’s in the air you breathe and the water (and wine) you drink. It’s crazy.

Hearing Nathan and Valerie say their vows swept me right back to that cool October evening in 2001 that found Dan and me standing face-to-face in an old Spanish church promising to love one another through good times and bad. We exchanged a tender glance and in some mystical way, I could almost feel our vows being renewed, separated though we were by several pews thanks to little ones who were starting to question the promise of the elusive wedding cake. (See below.)

Z-grump

Hours later we danced in the upstairs room of a charming little French restaurant with Charlie tucked between us. I was reminded of just how far we have come in these last twelve years and how our love has grown and (literally) multiplied. That, too, was a very special moment.

In the two weeks since their wedding, though, it feels like every time I open my computer there is news of another wife who has suddenly lost her beloved husband after five months, two years, seven years, and more than twenty years (still, far, far too soon) of marriage.

As I read those sad announcements one by one, still high off of the wedding we’d just attended, I was struck by what an act of faith it is to marry another. In doing so, we open ourselves to life, yes, but also death. And not just the possibility of death, but the assurance of death. Not forever, of course — our hope being in life everlasting — but earthly, excruciating death, nonetheless.

I don’t think I’d ever really thought about the fact that it takes bravery to say ‘yes’ to marriage. I’ve always known that for all the bliss, there will be pain involved in this journey, but something about the quick succession of all of these losses has really brought home the fact that through our marital fiats, we’ve invited in the possibility of a pain so acute that it has the power to knock us to our knees and steal our breath.

That’s no small thing.

What I’ve seen lately, though, is the manifestation of marriage as a community experience and it’s been a beautiful sight to behold. I had the privilege of watching as Nathan and Valerie’s friends gathered to pray, and dance, and toast them. Then I came home and also had the privilege of watching as these young widows were gathered up and kept alive by the God-given breath of their sisters (both in blood and in Christ) until they could breathe again on their own. In theory, I know that God’s grace knows no bounds, but to see it in action is always awe-inspiring.

I know this isn’t any kind of revelation. Wise men and women, scholars, saints, and everybody else have been discussing such things for all of time, and I don’t have anything new to add, really. But in that strange way that joy can bubble up out of even the most overwhelming grief, even as my heart has ached for these women, I’ve experienced gratitude. For my own marriage (whatever days Dan and I may have left to spend together here on earth), yes, but also for all of you who have made yourself vulnerable and bravely said yes to marriage.

It’s an honor to share the experience of this ecstatic and treacherous journey with you and it’s a comfort to know that we are all in this together. Though I know most of you strictly through the Internet, I’m grateful for you and so very glad we’ve found one another. It brings me such peace to know you’re out there. During whatever moments of quiet we can cultivate during this holiday season, let’s pray for one another and for all of our sisters out there who are grieving.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with love, light, and laughter.

 

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

As I mentioned over on Facebook, a fund has been set up here to support one of the widows (and her unborn child) I mentioned. If you know of any other similar endeavors, please let me know and I will add them to my Facebook page, as well. Thank you!

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Rakhi @ The Pitter Patter Diaries November 26, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Oh, Hallie. You done gone and made me cry. I have shared before with friends that I think there is a part of me who saw my once stronger than strong mother fall apart upon my father’s death that has hidden itself away. I forget that when I gave my life to be joined, I gave all of it. Every piece of my heart is joined together with my husbands….safeguarded in Christ. That’s the piece that sadly my mom is missing. I forget that with life in Christ there can arise sweetness in the midst of sorrow because He rose from the cross.

But you gone done and made me cry. Thanks for always encouraging us wives to love more boldly, more sweetly and more wholly. Praying for all those who are grieving this season…
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Rachel November 26, 2013 at 2:11 pm

I’ve thought about this before…it’s also the same with children. Being open to children is also being open to the possibility of a miscarriage or a child passing before we do. Not that I’ve lost a child (and God willing I won’t) but I’ve felt the same way as I’ve seen friends and other bloggers loose their children.

On a happier note, I love weddings too! Every time we attend one it is like we’re renewing our vows as well. So beautiful!
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Erin November 26, 2013 at 3:45 pm

Hallie- such wonderful reflections. First, Cody and I also loved every moment of Valerie and Nathan’s wedding and felt so privileged to be a part of it because the moment was so important and so intimate. And, even though it was a comparatively small wedding, it felt epic because of the richness of the celebration! Way to go Val and Nathan— a life altering sacrament and an epic celebration we are all still talking about– home run!

We’ve also seen the other side of the celebration in my family though too. We lost my brother shortly after he married- leaving his 23 year old bride and 18 mo old baby. Although I didn’t get married for another 6 years, the very decision to marry opened the floodgates of grief– the realization that I am choosing to love this other person with every ounce of myself, knowing at any moment he may walk out the door and not come back. The first year or two of our marriage I found it difficult to even run errands without Cody out of fear of something terrible happening. We worked together, studied together and went to the grocery store together. Eventually real life crept in and we now have a more normal existence, but i still fight dwelling on thoughts of our inevitable separation one day. You’re right– it is a very big decision to decide to love, knowing the outcome.

And, I always hope against hope we’ll be one of those old couples on the news who die hand in hand in our nursing home! Anything is possible, right?

Amanda November 26, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Oh goodness…crying again. I’ve been emotional since I read about the husband of 5 months passing away (I don’t know them directly but some of my friend do). I have too good of an imagination and can imagine myself in those shoes very easily and the thought of loss is breathtakingly overwhelming. It’s made me ever more appreciative of my little family and the blessing of having them with me in the day to day though.
And to lighten the mood, I also love weddings! They are filled with such love and happiness and are a beautiful reminder and reliving of one’s own wedding vows.

Elise November 26, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Yes. You put into words some of what I have been pondering in my heart the past couple days. Thank you for this beautiful reflection, Hallie.
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Amelia @ One Catholic Mama November 26, 2013 at 5:23 pm

Beautiful reflection. I have thought all too often about frality of life…about how quickly everything and everyone I love and hold dear can be taken away. It is so true, that to love to make oneself forever vulnerable to loss..but that is what God calls us to do.

I am so grateful for the internet community as well. It really some of my online friends that have carried me though some tought times na dbeen with me through various movies and difficult circumstances.
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Karen Bell November 27, 2013 at 9:02 am

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, too. It’s good for me to remember to take no time with my husband and sweet daughter for granted. Our time together on earth is precious, and we need to treasure that time as long as we have it. Sometimes I get so fearful, and then I need to remind myself that whatever the future holds, God will give the grace to get through it. Thanks for writing this reflection.
Btw I love the photo of your daughter! Hope she got a big slice of cake!

TheReluctantWidow November 27, 2013 at 11:03 am

Such a beautiful reflection Hallie! One the the most poignant quotes I have come across since becoming a widow has been from Bishop Fulton Sheen. I am going to paraphrase it but he says that when two people get married they become one, so that it’s not two hearts in a marriage but one, and when one spouse dies, the one heart shatters. It’s true. It’s also true that you can feel that your heart will never, ever, be whole again. But slowly, ever so slowly, I feel my heart healing, to the point that at one time I said I would never marry again because I never wanted to be vulnerable to the pain again. But, now I have been having thoughts about how good marriage was, how good I was at being a wife. I miss being a woman if that makes sense. I am a mom, I am female (as others see me), but to my husband, I was a woman, and he saw me that way. I miss that and I think it might be worth the risk, for the right man, to say “yes” to love once more.

How fortunate you are Hallie that you and Dan have had this opportunity to see the fragility of life and love so that you can make the very best of each and every day. XO
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