Monday, April 23, 2012

The Lesson of the Dead Duck's Mate

Early this morning I came across a Mallard drake dead on the road.  That was not too surprising -- there are a lot of ducks prospecting for nesting sites around here in the spring.  What led to this post was its mate that I nearly hit a few seconds later.

I recognized right away that the duck that I had to brake hard to avoid was distraught over the death of her mate.  She was dazed and confused and trying in her duckish way to figure out what to do next.

What sobered me about the hen was a flash of understanding. that like that surviving duck on the road, I have a strong pair bond with Linda, my mate of 40+ years, and that her loss would leave me dazed and confused.  Earlier in our lives together, as our bond was still forming, her loss would have still been devastating, but surely easier to take.

I have often marveled at the tombstones where long-married couples are interred.  I have marveled because the dates of death chiseled in the rock are often so very close.  My father once told me he thought it was because the survivor could not bear to live without the other.  I think he was right.

Today, four decades after our marriage, the truth of Jesus' words ring clear to me, "...they are no longer two but one" (Mark 10:8b).  I have become one with this woman, and I no longer know where she ends and I begin.  Our lives are intertwined far, far beyond anything I could have imagined.  We are transparent to one another in almost every way.  I thought I knew about love when we married, but I find out now that I really had no idea of its depth and value.

I often tell Linda, "it's not going to be long enough."  When it ends - and end it will - like the duck, I will be dazed and confused, or she will be.

I would be interested to hear your reflections on the value of marriage.  What rings true to you about this lesson?

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