My parents were married for 55 years. One morning, my mom was going downstairs to make Dad breakfast, when she had a heart attack and fell. My father picked her up as best he could and almost dragged her into the truck. At full speed, without respecting traffic lights, he drove her to the hospital.
When he arrived, unfortunately, she was no longer with us.
During the funeral, my father did not speak; his gaze was lost. He hardly cried.
That night, his children joined him. In an atmosphere of pain and nostalgia, we remembered beautiful anecdotes and he asked my brother, a theologian, to tell him where Mom would be at that moment. My brother began to talk about life after death and guesses as to how and where she would be.
My father listened carefully. Suddenly he asked us to take him to the cemetery.
“Dad!” we replied, “It’s 11 at night, we can’t go to the cemetery right now!”
He raised his voice, and with a glazed look he said: “Don’t argue with me, please don’t argue with the man who just lost his wife of 55 years.”
There was a moment of respectful silence, we didn’t argue anymore. We went to the cemetery. With a flashlight, we reached her grave.
My father sat down, prayed, and told his children: “It was 55 years… you know? No one can really talk about true love if haven’t done life with a person.”
He paused and wiped his face.
“She and I, we were together in the good and in the bad.” he continued. “When I changed jobs, we packed up when we sold the house and moved. We shared the joy of seeing our children become parents, we mourned the departure of loved ones, we prayed together in the waiting room of some hospitals, we supported each other in pain, we hugged one another each day, and we forgave mistakes.”
And then he paused and added, “Children, that’s all gone and I’m happy tonight. Do you know why I’m happy? Because she left before me. She didn’t have to go through the agony and pain of burying me, of being left alone after my departure. I will be the one to go through that, and I thank God for that. I love her so much that I wouldn’t have liked her to suffer…”
When my father finished speaking, my brothers and I had tears streaming down our faces. We hugged him and he comforted us, “It’s okay. We can go home. It’s been a good day.”
That night I understood what true love is. It is more than just romanticism and sex, it’s two people who stand beside one another, who are committed to one another … through all the good and bad that life throws at you.
Peace in your hearts.