V is for Vows, and Living Them: #atozchallenge Day 22

Kept Until Void

Promises must be considered well

Promises made ought to be kept

Kept regardless of effort expended

Kept despite circumstance or desire

Desire for others must be spurned

Desire for this commitment comes first

First we put aside the standard fare

First we searched and thought and talked

Talked about what we wanted to promise

Talked about the love we planned to live

Live together as lovers companions and friends

Live each day to honor the vows we made

Made together and spoken together

Made us stronger in every breath and choice

Choice always there to just walk away

Choice always to simply forswear those vows

Vows made from the deep places of my heart

Vows promised from the deeper home of my soul

Soul that resonated naturally with his

Soul that reveled in the many joyful times

Times when we were accomplices in mischief

Times when we were the fiercest adversaries

Adversaries each battling to be right

Adversaries became allies and partners

Partners striving to partner equally

Partners in parenthood and in marriage

Marriage begins with those spoken vows

Marriage ends when all vows lose meaning

Meaning that can only exist during life

Meaning that becomes potent as death nears

Nears the point where those other vows rule

Nears the endpoint of till death us do part

Part us with the cancer that steps in

Part and parcel now of a married life

Life twists and turns on a dime

Life subsiding and need rising

Rising vows demand to be met

Rising commitment to give honor

Honor in the tending of a dying mate

Honor in seeing to the hard places

Places that scrape heart and soul raw

Places that are the opposites of ease

Ease for him is utmostly important

Ease for me a thing of past and future

Future when he has died and need ended

Future where these vows will be null and void

Void of the life to be lived on without him

Void filled with the memories of a great love




A bit of trivia: Jim and I were “married” twice.

Because our families lived on opposite sides of the continent, none of his family or friends were able to make it to our official, licensed wedding on August 23, 1997, on my parents’ deck in upstate New York. We’d decided on the date and orchestrated a very simple ceremony in only six weeks, because we realized we just didn’t want to wait, when we both already knew we wanted to be married (there was some speculation that I was pregnant, but Jeremiah, our eldest, didn’t make his arrival until 2001).

But we didn’t want to exclude his family, either. So, when our season at the Grand Canyon was over, we made a leisurely trip through Arizona and California, then up the Oregon coast and inland to Eugene – and, on Thanksgiving Day, when his whole family could be there, we were unofficially married again by Jim’s uncle, who was a minister.

For our first ceremony, I found non-traditional vows in a wedding book. They fit our love: they began, “I promise to be your lover, companion, and friend. Other lines included being one anothers’ best ally in adversity and fiercest adversary, accomplice in mischief, and partner in parenthood.

We have been all those things to each other – imperfectly.

For the second wedding, Jim requested we use the traditional vows his uncle was comfortable with. There was a slight quibble over the word “obey”, which I would neither promise, nor allow Jim to promise me. Married people shouldn’t be cast in an obedience relationship – not if they’re going to be equal partners.

But I promised to love him and keep him, in sickness and in health, till death us did part – and I meant it.

I didn’t expect that, only 20 years later, I would be living the truth of those vows with a sickness that resulted in death, and which, along the way, rendered the man who stood beside me helpless as a newborn.

But when that time came, I’m proud to say that I gave myself to my vows. I’m a bit less proud that sometimes exhaustion, fear, frustration, and grief at all that was lost and would be lost meant that I did it all imperfectly and with less than a willing spirit – but, even then, I accept that I am, in the end, only a human being, and will err at times.

I would have happily honored those vows another forty years, if I could have – but I am intensely grateful for the years I was able to do so.

Join us again tomorrow, when we explore how when it’s over, that’s where it begins…

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