“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” – Mark 10:9
On our first Christmas, my husband gave me a piece of jewelry. We had only been dating for about 6 months but I already knew that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. Of course, I wasn’t expecting an engagement ring but I wasn’t quite sure if he knew me well enough to pick out a piece of jewelry for me. Although I had a box full of it, I wore the same jewelry every day and mostly, only the handmade silver pieces my Dad made for me. I really wanted to like whatever was inside that box. As I opened it slowly, I was pleasantly surprised to see a simple piece of sterling silver jewelry. My family was Irish and he bought it from an Irish store. It was a simple trinity knot with a heart intertwined in it. I absolutely loved it. It was totally me, totally my style. It wasn’t gold. It wasn’t flashy. It didn’t have diamonds or gemstones on it. It was a simple piece of silver jewelry and it was perfect for me.
As I took it out of the box, Mike explained that it had a special meaning. Being a man of few words, he said, “It is a knot with a heart weaved in it and the knot never ends”. I knew what he meant. I knew that the necklace was a symbol of love and that he was telling me, in his way, that our love would never end. I wore that necklace every day (and for the most part, I still do!). I was a sentimental person and would rather have a piece of jewelry that meant something than a big diamond necklace picked out at a jewelry store at the mall. I had many friends who appreciated fine jewelry and it was sparkly and beautiful…but I thought spending a small fortune on a piece of jewelry was silly. Sometimes, aside from its monetary value, a gift of jewelry was meaningless. This necklace meant the world to me. Love never ends.
Mike and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary in September. That necklace was now 17 years old. As I removed that necklace the other day, I took extra notice of it. I looked at the trinity, the interwoven heart and thought about all we lived through since that first Christmas. When we first met, we were young and crazy in love. He told me about the necklace and my heart went pitter-pat…like it was when you first get together. We were lucky. That feeling faded as it does but it evolved into a deeper, more meaningful love for each other. It evolved into the kind of love that happened when two people endured the good times and the bad times, maybe not always so gracefully, but always together. That necklace was around my neck when we planned our wedding, when we moved into our apartment, when we moved into our home, had our babies, started businesses — and it was also around my neck when we struggled with fertility, when we lost my father, when we battled cancer. We met those challenges head on, hand in hand, our hearts interwoven – just like that necklace. Love never ends.
When we were married, there was no crystal ball. We said our vows before God and before our family … to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish ’til death do us part. We heard those vows all the time – at the movies and on television, at family weddings. We watched the ceremony — the dress, the cake, the first dance – and we assumed the ‘happily ever after’. We never saw how that couple maneuvered real life, beyond the white dress and tiered wedding cake. Real marriage was hard. It was messy, complicated and exhausting. It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t the fairy tale we played in our heads. There were bumps and detours and derailments. There were times when the road crumbled beneath us. Looking back, though, those were the times we held on to each other even tighter. Those were the times that our love grew stronger, deeper and more real. Love never ends.
Although we faced a lot of obstacles in our marriage, mostly over the last few years, I feel that our story is still a fairy tale. I was blessed with a husband who will stand by my side, no matter what. One time, my car was hit by a bus in downtown Washington, DC. It was the middle of the work day. I was distraught. New to the area and unsure of what to do, I called Mike who talked me down, told me to call the police and report what happened. I did and then sat in my car, crying, as I waited for the police to arrive. Within 15 minutes, I looked up and there he was, my knight in shining armor had left his job site and drove in from neighboring Virginia to make sure I was alright. He was always taking care of things. He was always taking care of me. There was no greater example of him taking care of me than when I battled cancer the first time. That man went with me to every appointment, listened to every word my oncologist said. He sat with me through every four-hour chemo treatment, even though I slept through most of it. He walked me up the stairs and helped me into bed when I went through the very painful surgery and reconstruction process. He was there for all the big steps but more importantly, he was there for all those moments when I just needed to cry. He was there to tell me that I was going to be alright. He was there to tell me that he was always, always going to be by my side. Love never ends.
Now, as we face another challenge, I am reminded again just how truly blessed I am. “Therefore, what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Mark 10:9). This was so true. Nothing can tear us apart – no one, no thing. Those vows we took on our wedding day were more than just words, more than just ceremony. We meant those vows. We lived those vows. I learned that when you do that, God protects you, your spouse, and your marriage. My husband was a gift from God. Every single day, I get to open it. Every single day, I get the gift of love, true unwavering love. The love that God has for us has no limits. He loves us more than we can even comprehend. That loves shines down on us from Heaven. God blessed us with our spouses so a little bit of that love can shine on us from here on earth. I thank the Lord every single day for my husband, my gift from God. We are about to go down another rough road. I still trust we will be alright. We will just hold on tight, take each other’s hand, trust in God and keep going. I will remember the meaning behind that necklace that Mike gave me that first Christmas together. I will remember that heart interwoven in the trinity knot. That necklace represents our relationship, all we have been through, and that we have the strength to get through anything that comes our way. That necklace represents the love we have for each other. We can boldly walk this difficult path together because we both know – Love never ends.
This picture was taken on New Year’s Eve in 1998. Mike had just given me the necklace that Christmas.