Monday, September 18, 2006

Til death do us part

Joe just sent me a video clip of a teenaged cancer patient, terminally ill, whose wish was to have the wedding of her dreams with the love of her life. I had tears in my eyes as I watched the clip, and I so wish I knew about this early enough to send her whatever she needed, whatever I could do to add something she wanted for her day. The Make-a-Wish foundation took care of all that. They are a top notch group. The writeup on another site was poignant and eloquent about the depth of 'til death do us part' in their wedding vows. So few couples really think about the meaning of that.

It reminds me of an interview I gave last year, where the reporter asked me if I had ever heard of any couples wanting to leave out 'til death do us part,' and since I've heard EVERYTHING from Star Trek vows to promises that read like pre-nups about who gets the kids if one of them gains more than thirty pounds, my answer was yes. I had heard that, and I told the reporter that the anecdotes I'd heard in my 15 years of writing on weddings usually involved those who were cynical, had weird senses of humor, or had just had a death in the family and didn't want to use the word 'death.' Sure enough, I come back from my morning walk a few days later to find a stream of insult mail in my In-box...the reporter had posted that I said 'til death do us part' was going out of style. The BBC called minutes later for an interview, and I explained the out-of- context situation. No story there. Click. I forwarded the e-mails to the reporter and asked her parent company to change the insinuations in the story, which they did. But the story had circled the globe a few times. Was I angry? Well, reading hate mail doesn't make my day...especially since those people didn't know me, nor my dedication to the institution of marriage, to meaning your vows, to preparing for the future not just the wedding. But then I *liked* it. People were passionate about the traditional vows. Anyone saying differently made them mad, and that was terrific to see. 'Til death do us part' will never be bounced from the traditional vow service. Sure, couples who want to stay away from the D-word might say 'til the end of time,' but it means the same thing. Dedication. Commitment. Forever. And few things illustrate this more than a terminally ill teenager who's bravely facing the end of her life, could have asked for anything, and asked to marry the love of her life...and death will be what parts them. So best wishes to Nicole and to her husband. As Oprah says, "When you lose someone, you gain an angel you know." The whole world just got to meet this angel here on earth, and her message is clear. Love is all there is.