“UNTIL DEATH DO US PART?”
By Jane Dovidio-Gagliardo
Where do I begin? I think my wedding vows have been on my mind because on April 10th my husband and I would have been married 50 years. So, this anniversary was definitely a tough one. As I reminisce on us saying our vows in front of God, family, and friends, I have not been able to get “Until Death Do Us Part” out of my brain or my heart. We were married in April of 71’ and graduated High School in June of 71.’ We were 17 and yes, I was pregnant… and back in the day, you got married. Oh, we loved each other; but the odds were stacked against us for sure. We struggled financially and emotionally but together, we always managed to work out the challenges we encountered. I’ll be the first to admit that throughout our 33 years of marriage, we had our battles and discussions of ending our marriage. But in the end, we just could not picture ourselves being apart. For us not sharing our lives together, through this journey we call life, was not an option.
As the years went on, so did our love for each other. The dynamics of our love changed as the years went on. The kids got older. We buried our parents and some close friends… which made us realize just how lucky we were to have decided through those tough times to stay together and work out both our differences and challenges. We shared so many things throughout our lives together… good, bad, and indifferent. And throughout the years we shared, so many people came through our lives.
We knew each other more than half our lives. Then that day. That day you died and crossed over. So unexpected. So sudden. I found you on the floor. I thought you were still alive. I held you in my arms and said there was too much to still live for. But you never woke up. For the first two years after you left, I lived in a fog. I can’t even tell you what I did or how I felt. Just foggy. But then I realized I couldn’t continue on that path. You were gone, but I was still here. So, I had to find a way to get my shit together and start a different life… now, without you. And so, the journey of my life without you began. I’m not complaining about my life. It is one I have grown to love tremendously. But I struggled to get to this point. It was not easy, but I have learned many things about myself. And about us.
But 50 years. WOW so “Until Death Do Us Part,” I’m finding does not apply for me. I still feel very married to you in my heart. I’ve seen grief counselors, therapist, joined grief groups and talked to members of the clergy. Yet I still feel married to you. So, I’ve decided that I’m just going with the way I feel. Like the saying goes “Don’t fight the feeling!” Life is still God’s plan for me so living my best life is what I will do. I must say I never feel like I’m alone. I am a woman of great faith and know that my God is always with me. If you’re reading this blog, have you experienced a great loss? Has it left you feeling different than what people say you should feel? Because honestly the way people told me I should be feeling and the way I actually feel are very different. You know my gut has never let me down. I started a grief support group. A book was written about me, “Call To Witness,” I reconstructed my house and I’m back in school. I also became a State Certified Counselor for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault victims. I’ve become more aware of the circle of family and friends I choose to be around. And, I must say, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been since you passed over. I’m loving all the people near and dear to me and I’m moving forward as I know you would want me to.
Our 50th Wedding Anniversary, now part of our history and legacy together, warms my heart and makes me smile. I’m missing you but continuing to live my life and just go with the way I feel. Know that I will continue to cherish the memories and moments we shared together. Here’s to you my Love… until we meet again.
If you can relate to this blog, please feel free to share your loss of a loved one with me. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has experienced this kind of love and loss. I leave you with this quote: “Holding on is believing that there’s only a past. Letting go is knowing there’s a future.” (Unknown)
Stay Safe. Stay Strong. Stay Fearless.