"The most important day of your marriage is the last day."
In his book Real Marriage, Mark Driscoll makes this very real and valid point. So often we spend all our energy on planning the first day - the flowers, the cake, the dress and all the many, many other details - yet not considering the rest of the marriage and indeed that dreadful last day. Nobody can be sure how exactly their marriage will end, but of this you can know for sure - it will be a dreadful, soul destroying and life changing day. For the breaking of a whole, the ripping in two, will leave a large, bleeding wound.
The last day came for Jouke and I far to soon.
Dreadful. Haunting. Painful.
A kind of pain I have never felt before nor wish to ever feel again. A pain, an ache, that follows you, never leaves your side and eventually just becomes part of the tapestry of you. It changes you when a marriage ends. It has to because half of you is taken.
When that marriage ended I was left with many "what ifs" and regrets. What if, I had just called when I felt compelled to? What if, he didn't go to work that day? What if somebody was there with him? Why didn't I get a chance to say goodbye? Why didn't I wake up as he was leaving for work and say "I love you" one last time? I should have been more loving, gracious, kind! We should have laughed more.
But (and this is a big but), everyday - every. single. day - I thank Jesus that when our last day came, when we fulfilled our vows "until death do us part", that day was a good day. About our last day I have no regrets, nor do I feel any guilt. We were not perfect and neither was our marriage, but we loved well and our last day was a great day.
I have often wondered what it would have been like if things were different. What if our last day was filled with yelling, ugly words and pain? What if he drove away while we still had anger or things to work through? Would I be so far down to road in terms of healing? Would my grief be tainted by guilt and as a result be a crushing, deadening weight that I just cannot bear?
Or what if our last day was not as a result of death, but instead our own foolish mistakes that ended in papers being signed, custody arrangements made and lives dividing. What if, instead of loving we had simply fallen out of love, drifted apart, forgotten how to love and be loved? How does one carry that weight? What would it feel like when your last day is littered with not just pain, but shame and guilt?
I ponder these things often. I thank Jesus daily, for grace, mercy and what was. And daily, I lay at his feet what is. I beg for more grace, more mercy and that when Adrian and I reach our last day that it too, will be a good day.