41: Not Alone

41: Not Alone

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grieving and Recovery

Not Alone

Sadness flies away on the wings of time.

~Jean de La Fontaine

September 4, 2000, my husband and I celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary. As he did each anniversary, he took me out to eat. Candlelight, flowers, steaks. A quiet evening alone. “This is great,” I said, “but when we celebrate our 50th, I want us to renew our vows. Just a quiet celebration. Me, you and the kids.”

“No way,” he protested. “I had a hard enough time getting through the first one.”

And he did. I never saw a man so scared in all my life. I walked down the aisle toward my husband-to-be, his face as white as my bridal veil. My Uncle Melvin said he thought he might have to come to the front of the church and hold him up. Or at least brace him so his knees would stop shaking. Perspiration rolled off his forehead all the way to his shirt collar. His voice sounded like a young teenager going through puberty when he repeated after the minister, “I, Glen, take you... ”

At this point I nearly bolted—turned and ran out the door. Had I pushed him into something he didn’t want to do? I consoled myself; it was he who asked me. I didn’t run, and we stumbled through the ceremony without any major blunders except he put my ring on the wrong hand. I was so flustered by this time that I didn’t notice.

I could understand why he didn’t want to do it again. Although he’d rejected my suggestion, I just grinned at him. I knew how to get around my husband. Even though he was “the man of the house,” I could coax him into seeing things my way without his even knowing it.

Five years later, we were nearing our 45th anniversary. Glen had been diagnosed with lung cancer. “Honey, you and I both know I’ll never make it to our 50th. Let’s do it on our 45th.” His statement came out of nowhere.

“Do what?” I had no idea what he was talking about. Had the lung cancer hit his brain?

“Our vows. Get married again.”

“I thought you didn’t want to do that. We don’t have to.” I wouldn’t think of coercing him into standing in front of a bunch of relatives again. Now was not a good time.

“No, I want to.” He took my hand, his faded green eyes looking into mine, his head now bald from chemotherapy. But I saw the handsome young, dark-haired man with gold flecks in his eyes who’d proposed to me 45 years ago.

“Will you marry me again?” His voice quivered as it did the first time, when we sat in the car in Iroquois Park Overlook and he slipped a $200 ring on my finger—a beautiful, simple, white-gold band, a small diamond in the center with a circle of tiny chips surrounding it. Years later, he’d offered to buy me a more expensive set, but I refused. I wanted the rings that had sealed our vows.

“Yes,” I said. “Yes, I’ll marry you again.” He kissed me as he did the first time I said yes.

“Then we better start planning.” He beamed like a child getting his way—like it was his idea from the beginning.

“It won’t take that much planning.” I figured a small ceremony after church on Sunday afternoon would be appropriate.

“No. I want the works. We didn’t have the money for a big affair the first time. This will be different.”

“I don’t need all of that. Just something simple,” I protested.

“I do,” he said. “I already asked Bub to be my best man, and I assume you want the girls to be your attendants. We’ll have a big reception, wedding cake, the whole shebang.”

“I don’t think I can fit into my wedding gown. We don’t need to go formal.” “Yes, we do. Buy another one.”

I was dumbfounded. He was excited and invited everyone he saw before we even thought about sending out invitations.

July 5, 2005, two months before our big event, he succumbed to cancer.

A week later, I received a call from the jeweler, asking for my husband. The lady said his order was ready. When I went in to see what it was, I opened a box with a gorgeous set of diamond wedding rings. The settings were identical to my old ones except the center diamond was much larger. I had to feel sorry for the poor saleslady after I gained control and stopped the crying and blubbering, explaining why I didn’t need them anymore.

I returned the rings.

I grieved as I suppose all widows do. But recovery comes through time and God’s helping hand. My husband has not truly left me. He had dreamed of taking an Alaskan cruise. I did that. He went with me in my heart. I wanted to go to Hawaii. I did that. He went along with me. I carried him in my soul. I laugh with him about each new adventure our grandchildren undertake. I cry with him when we lose a family member. We will be together until we unite in our new life in heaven.

This year I will face our 50th anniversary. But I don’t need an expensive diamond to remind me of how much my husband loved me; I have 45 years of memories, three children and the last, most beautiful memory of all. He wanted to do it all over again.

~Jean Kinsey

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