My stepdad got married last night.
Mom died two years ago after 33 years of marriage to my stepfather, Norman Milne. She was 64 at the time and he was 61. Their marriage (like most of our marriages) had its ups and downs. I was there for that wedding in 1975, and through “better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health” they stuck with each other. Norm grew into the kind of husband I still hope to be.
But those vows I heard in 1975 were “until death do us part.”
Mom died. Death DID part them.
And Norm, very sad and very lonely, met a beautiful woman, who was also alone, and became friends. They actually laughed together during a time when he wondered if he’d ever laugh again. They talked. She understood the sadness and the loneliness.
They fell in love and on August 28, 2010, they were married.
I have some relatives who were upset that he would marry again. Others who just thought it was “too soon.”
I have to admit, it was a tough day for me as one who had been invited to the wedding as part of Norm’s family. (It was the first time I’ve ever cried at a wedding, in fact.) Was it too soon? Was it wrong? Was it disrespectful to my mom?
And as for wrong, his marriage to my mom ended when Mom won her battle against cancer and received the never-ending prize of total and complete healing that can never be taken away. No temporary remission. No short-term healing that would then just make her go through the end-of-life battle again some day as she then lay dying. Mom won! Mom is even now enjoying the presence of Jesus Christ and the eternal life she received when she trusted Him as her Savior and Lord. “… until death do us part.” Norm has done no wrong.
In fact, Mom had said before that she was pretty sure Norm would have to get married again some day. (As I recall, she also added something like “He HAS TO have a good woman just to keep him in line!”) So it was no disrespect to Mom.
As for too soon, of course it’ll always feel too soon! We humans, in our grief, want to hang on to the “way things were” as long as we can… and thus you find some families that can never repaint a deceased’s room and end up making a shrine to the dead in their home. It will ALWAYS feel like ‘too soon.’ But that’s just a feeling, not a fact. There is no listing of when would NOT be too soon.
Which of course means that the sadness and overwhelming feelings are mine… and my relatives. WE miss the way things used to be. And I suppose the men in white coats might need to take us away if we didn’t. And I know that Norm has many of those same feelings. (It’s amazing what you can learn when you stop guessing and gossipping and actually talk face to face with someone!)
Norm has repeatedly talked about NOT trying to replace Mom, but simply to have someone who can be a friend and a companion as he continues to walk on in this life. We haven’t ‘lost’ Grandpa Milne and he hasn’t tried to replace Grandma Milne. Instead, he has added a Grandma Becky to the list of people who love us and we too can love!
My presence, in many ways last night at Norm & Becky’s wedding, was also a “giving away of the groom” on my part. I acknowledge that Norm is not MINE and required to fit into the box of my expectations and memories of the past. He is his own man. And just as free to live and love as I am.
Was I sad? You betchya! But I was also overjoyed! I am excited for Becky & Norm! May their marriage be happy, honest, and long-lasting!
May God bless, protect, and preserve this new marriage! AMEN!