“Until Death Do Us Part…” And even then, not for long.

Photo: The Evening Sun

A couple who had been married for more than 60 years died within hours of one another.

Something about the one-flesh union and the intimate bond of marriage. I’ve heard about this sort of thing a number of times and even was privileged to know a couple who had been married for six or seven decades and died within days of one another.

It doesn’t always happen that way, and it’s easy enough to pass it off as a coincidence. But when a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, and the two become one flesh—when a woman submits to her husband and a husband loves his wife as Christ loved the Church—things can never be the same again.

Singer-songwriter Ben Gibbard penned the line, “And I have to speculate that God Himself/Did make us into corresponding shapes like/Puzzle pieces from the clay.” God made us for intimate spiritual union in marriage, and signified that reality in the design of our physiology and anatomy.

“You complete me” popped into popular parlance after Jerry Maguire, but it is more than just a movie line. And when part of you dies, the rest of you is lessened. The parties in a couple become to intertwined into each others’ lives that life without the other would be fundamentally different. Routines are gone. The simple presence of the beloved other is gone. The one who listened to your concerns and shared your joys is gone. The one who trusted you and whom you trusted more than anyone else is gone. The one who touched you just so is gone. The one who tapped into your spirit, brought you out of yourself, and saw with love into the depths of your being is gone. The one whom you would have done anything for is gone.

Buttercup expressed it beautifully, “Westley and I are joined by the bonds of love. And you cannot track that, not with a thousand bloodhounds. And you cannot break that, not with a thousand swords.”

But—short of a miracle (chocolate-coated or not)—death eventually comes to sever those bonds and bring us face-to-face with the bridegroom of our souls, and hopefully into communion with the entire Communion of Saints for all eternity.

May the Trimmers rest in peace. The ultimate purpose of marriage is for the spouses to get one another to heaven—I pray this loving couple was successful in what ultimately mattered.



  • Denise

    What a contrast this is to last weekend’s Washington Post Magazine cover article about a woman who divorced her husband after he was disabled by a stroke. She wanted to marry another man and get on with her life. The Post held it up as such a noble and wonderful thing because the woman continued to be kind and supportive of her disabled ex-husband. It is a sad commentary on our culture’s view of marriage when such behavior is held up as laudable.

    • Jennifer Roche

      Wow, that is really depressing. Wonder what she will think when she falls ill and he “new man” leaves her. What goes around comes around.

  • Catholic Health Care Worker

    Not surprising – this is not an uncommon experience to witness for those of us who work in the heatlhcare setting.

    Just a gentle comment on your remark above about submission and love, since it is one that, taken out of context, might cause confusion. Our Catholic Tradition (markedly different than some Protestant tradition) teaches that the submission in marriage is not one-sided, but mutual.

    John Paul II in Mulieris Dignitatem, no. 24:

    “The author of the Letter to the Ephesians sees no contradiction between an exhortation formulated in this way and the words: “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife” (5:22-23). The author knows that this way of speaking, so profoundly rooted in the customs and religious tradition of the time, is to be understood and carried out in a new way: as a “mutual subjection out of reverence for Christ” (cf. Eph 5:21). This is especially true because the husband is called the “head” of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church; he is so in order to give “himself up for her” (Eph 5:25), and giving himself up for her means giving up even his own life. However, whereas in the relationship between Christ and the Church the subjection is only on the part of the Church, in the relationship between husband and wife the “subjection” is not one-sided but mutual…

    The apostolic letters are addressed to people living in an environment marked by that same traditional way of thinking and acting. The “innovation” of Christ is a fact: it constitutes the unambiguous content of the evangelical message and is the result of the Redemption. However, the awareness that in marriage there is mutual “subjection of the spouses out of reverence for Christ”, and not just that of the wife to the husband, must gradually establish itself in hearts, consciences, behaviour and customs. This is a call which from that time onwards, does not cease to challenge succeeding generations; it is a call which people have to accept ever anew. Saint Paul not only wrote: “In Christ Jesus… there is no more man or woman”, but also wrote: “There is no more slave or freeman”. Yet how many generations were needed for such a principle to be realized in the history of humanity through the abolition of slavery! And what is one to say of the many forms of slavery to which individuals and peoples are subjected, which have not yet disappeared from history?

    But the challenge presented by the “ethos” of the Redemption is clear and definitive. All the reasons in favour of the “subjection” of woman to man in marriage must be understood in the sense of a “mutual subjection” of both “out of reverence for Christ”. The measure of true spousal love finds its deepest source in Christ, who is the Bridegroom of the Church, his Bride.”

    • http://twitter.com/tomcrowe Tom Crowe

      No argument re: submission, of course, but I would ask you to note the equally striking requirement of the husband, i.e., to love his wife as Christ loved the Church (i.e., to a violent death, if need be). I very much appreciate it when couples have the whole pertinent section of Ephesians 5 read at their wedding, and the priest preaches on the real meaning of both parts.

      • Catholic Health Care Worker

        So noted :). And I share the same preference. I do think that an explanation is needed, though, since there is a risk of viewing this passage through a secular lens, as though the husband is “head” of the wife as a CEO is “head” of a company (i.e. her “boss”) rather than through a Christocentric lens, where headship is about taking the initiative in laying down his life. The homily is probably the most fitting place to do this. I’m always disappointed when this reading is read in Mass without an adequate exegesis, since it can so easily be misunderstood and seen as oppressive when it is, in fact, so beautiful.



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