The 24-Year Fiancé

When you meet someone at a funeral home, it’s hardly ever a good day. I recognized the woman I’ll call Jean immediately from a retail place I frequent – Jean works at the kind of place where they wear name tags so it’s easy to know their name and Jean is the kind of person that seems to instantly learn and remember your name- a skill and a nicety that makes shopping there easy and pleasant for me.

So seeing her there, at I place where I work, was a little jarring and seeing her without a smile was even more so. “Oh Jean…what happened?”

My fiancé died. We were engaged 24 years.”

Oh no.

Well, between tears and sniffles she told me they lived together had a family and like many couple with kids they were busy busy busy.

One day about ten years back, he came home and said- “Hey- let’s get married!” He had an idea for a cheap flight to Vegas for a weekend- it would be fun and romantic.

But they were busy- and of course their were bills to pay- there are always those- so Jean “no- no- not now- now’s not a good time.” And he said- “Okay- but remember- next time it’s your turn to ask.”

That time never came- he died suddenly, and Jean was now at the funeral home making arrangements-

She looked at me and said- “I wish that…” and then she started crying- she could not finish the sentence.

It doesn’t take long to figure out that I’m a traditional sort of guy- so marriage has always been what I’m about- I believe in it’s social importance I believe in it’s religious importance.

I’ve even come to believe in it’s biological importance- studies have shown that couples that have spent similar amounts of time in a relationship react differently at a biological level- that when under stress, a woman’s blood pressure does not change when her hand is held by her boyfriend – even if the couple profess that they do not believe in getting married. But a woman who’ s hand is held by her husband- well her blood pressure does drop – she calms down and is comforted more even if the relationships of the two couples was the same length of time. Apparently the legal commitment of a marriage license offers a level of comfort and stability that the woman could feel at the basic biological level.

But when I talk about marriage- I don’t think about tradition, or religion, or biology—i think about the tear stained face of a woman so full of remorse and loss that she could not finish saying out loud what the wish of her heart was…