… what a SCARY concept! Yuck. I mean who wants to think about the dead, dying, and death on the happiest day of their lives? Not me! I want to think happy thoughts…positive thoughts…

Why not say instead “forever” or “for always” or even “forever and ever and always?” I’m just saying…It certainly isn’t a very HAPPY concept, now is it? Or, a positive one.

Well, Italiani take this v-e-r-y seriously.

I’m not even referring to Pep’s dad who, sadly, had the love of his life pass away five years ago this August. It was quite a tragic experience for all of them. His dad still wears his wedding ring and refers to her as his wife, almost as if in present tense. The loss is still very prevalent in his life, and I don’t see the opportunity for him to meet and fall in love again. He isn’t interested.

It’s somewhat more saddening for Pep’s Aunt, whose husband fell ill nine years ago, and two days later was dead. She, too, still dons her wedding ring and vows to never love another.

Even more disheartening is a different zia. Her husband was stricken with cancer and passed away almost 35 years ago. She has spent more than three decades, and half of her life without him…wearing his ring and refusing other suitors.

This is not unlike our friend’s mom who continues to wear black, day in and day out, spending every day of her life in perpetual mourning for her lost husband, who passed almost 30 years ago.

The idea of a true, soul-sharing, bound-for-eternity love is, without doubt, a beautiful concept. But, and I am saying this without an ounce of judgment for the afore-mentioned lovers, I wonder what their counterparts would say. It is my suspicion they would want happiness…days without loneliness…true contentment.

I shared my controversial opinion with Pep, who, not surprisingly disagreed with me.

“If something happens to me, tesoro mio,” I urged him, “You have my blessing to move on.”

He didn’t return the offer.

The idea of a love so consuming and ever-lasting that it promises to transcend death, is, to be quite honest with you, terrifying. Terrifying, yet beautiful. Overwhelming, but special. I feel fortunate to enter into a union with a man with these deeply-rooted sentiments about love and togetherness, but fearful of the implications.

I don’t like thinking about death.

“Forever” conjures a much nicer image…

So, maybe instead of saying, “Till death due us part” when we make our vows in November, Peppe and I will just say, “Forever and Ever.”


12 Responses
  1. Giulia

    Wow, this is a touchy subject. I guess because no one, at least while alive, never wants to think of their other half being with someone else.

    I know of someone whose husband died tragically while they were married for only a few years. They had two children together. Nobody ever ‘stops’ mourning, but when the widow was ready to move on, her husband’s family was NOT happy about it at all! She wound up marrying a man that had lost his wife too.

    I just can’t understand how her late husband’s family would not accept the fact that she just couldn’t go the rest of her life being alone? Especially with two young children. She was so young. That is another tragedy in itself, I think! It’s not like he passed away and she quickly found someone else. That wasn’t the case at all.

    I think it is MAJORLY frowned upon here to move on after a spouse dies. If it’s by choice that one does not want to move on after they have lost a loved one, that’s one thing. But if they feel like they ‘can’t’ move on in fear of shaming the family members of the deceased, it’s sad.

  2. j

    I’ve heard it said that women mourn and men replace. There might be some truth to that.

    But I think you really mean until death do us part, if you are urging the person to move on. You don’t want to say “forever” because then you will be wearing the ring for 30 years after they died.

    I think the problem is with the word death. Death is morbid, in fact I think it is a sin, but dying is natural and even at times good. It’s OK to die, its part of life. Death on the other hand is the enemy of life. So maybe you should say “until we die.” Of course these days even if you can say “at least for the next five years” you’ll be doing pretty good.

    By the way, how hot has it been? I heard on the news it was 115 (F) in Athens the other day. That’s hot even by Texan standards isn’t it?

  3. Cherrye

    G – You are right, it is touchy. And, I would NEVER judge anyone their decision. I really feel sad for the ones who have decided not to move on. I certainly don’t want to think of Pep being with someone else, but it makes me more sad to think of him being alone for 10, 20, or 30 years…

    I have a friend in America whose mother died after years of battling cancer. His father remarried a couple of years later. When the dad talked to my friend before making that decision, my friend was happy for him. He told him, “You did right by my mother as long as you could. She isn’t here for you to be with…move on.”

    I thought that was very noble of my friend, and very open-minded.

    I also think damage is done when the spouse doesn’t move on, because after 30 years they are either alone or overly dependent on their adult children who have to deal with guilt of leaving that parent alone.

    J – You are right…as I was righting that I realized “til death due us part” is not what happens here. I wondered if anyone else would catch that. I thought YOU might! 😉

    I can not say with certainty what I would do…for me to think about that, I’d have to think about death…and, well, you know how I feel about that topic!

    It was 111 here the other day. INSANE. Truly! My grandfather told me it was 89 in Texas and we were sooo jealous!

  4. sognatrice

    If you’re able to get a Calabrian guy to even talk about death, you’re doing pretty good. I tried to talk about this with P once; I, of course, told him he didn’t need to pine away for me should I go first to which he responded that he promised to go first so he didn’t have to worry about that. I can’t remember if he said I was permitted to move on or not. I think he ended the conversation there 😉

    I think a lot of this depends on the individual person and circumstances–especially age. Like in Giulia’s example, someone who is young with small children? How could she possibly be expected to not accept love into her life again?

    Like you said, I think it’s hard for people to think about death, and like Giulia said, to imagine their partner with another–but when we’re gone? Well, I think we all just want our loved ones to be happy.

    As for the semantics of “til death do us part,” I can go one further–do we mean one death (half the couple) or the death of both people? The former, we’re talking move on, the latter, nope.

    I think you should say whatever you fancy come November 🙂

  5. Kathleen aka Coffee Mom

    My very italian mother in law was exactly the same. Her husband had died, that was it for her. No second chances at happiness

  6. Anonymous

    Yeah, and it’s also hard when the marriage “dies.” Like in my parents case my dad has another partner but my mum kind of gave up on finding someone else when she divorced my dad in her 40s. She always said she didn’t want to subject us to a step-dad but I think that was a cop out. And now my sister and I have to live with the huge guilt of leaving her alone (and I live so far away!) But if she’d found someone else then maybe she wouldn’t be alone?


  7. Texas Espresso

    ok, first of all I have to be honest and say… I laughed out loud at the end of your post “Forever and ever” Amen!. hehe AND at Sognatrice talking about P ending the conversation. hehe

    I know I probably shouldn’t have but hey, it is not often that Randy Travis starts playing in my brain. =)

    Stefano and I have never talked about this. I am under the assumption we both would try to move on if something happened. Not that it would be easy but at least be open to it. However, as we haven’t ever talked about it – now I am wondering. I wonder if the North vs. South differences would come into play?

    From what I can see, and believe me I am no expert.. YET (hehe), Southern Italy is much more traditional than Northern. I do think that Italians as a whole take marriage much more seriously than we do in America. is a thought provoking post. one to be futher explored I think…

    But you know, now that I think of it – my grandfather died when I was 7 and my grandma stayed single the rest of her life. 20+ years. hmmm…

  8. pat

    Don’t be fooled girls, 87.6% of southern Italian wives couldn’t stand their husbands until they died, when they canonized them, after jumping and screaming on their caskets. Live in Italy long enough and you’ll see…they really wear the black dresses because they’re slimming on their portly bodies. The morning thing is just an excuse.

  9. j

    But getting back to life, thanks for doing this blog Cherrye. It’s fun talking to you in this rather odd email way. You will have more pics of Catanzaro though won’t you?

  10. Calabrisella

    definitely Terrifying, yet beautiful.
    Mia Nonna still wears black and talks about my nonno like he were alive…never moved on either…
    i grew up with that so its seems normal to me…
    Mio nonno transcended many years ago…

    sad but beautiful…


  11. nyc/caribbean ragazza

    When my paternal grandmother died my grandfather did not remarry and same with my mother’s parents.

    Where my parents are from they take marriage very seriously. (this of course doesn’t mean men are not cheating, haha). People don’t remarry. Part of it could be because it’s a small island and your choices are kind of limited. 🙂

    I hear you re: death it is scary to think about it. I think this is cultural. Many Americans think we can out run death (or at least get a lot of plastic surgery and look young forever). My West Indian relatives talk about death/dying as if it’s part of life, which it is. Still hard for me to think about my parents (who are early and late 70s) not being here.

  12. Cherrye

    Michelle, don’t feel bad. Our “talk” was literally 20 seconds…go figure!

    Kathleen – 🙁 How sad.

    Katie – I know what you mean about the guilt. I think that is a huge (and horribly sad) side-affect of this. I Pep felt guilty when he went to visit me in TX for three months because his dad was alone. In his dad’s case, it is different. He was married to his wife for almost 40 years and she passed away when they were older. But, I don’t understand why others don’t consider that they will either be alone in old age, or make their children sacrifice to be with them.

    Stacy – I am not sure if it is diff with North vs South. I thought Pep would have felt the same as me… OOPS!

    Pat – LOL! ha ha ha – Nice take on the whole thing!

    J – those pics from the castle were JUST for you! 🙂

    NYC – I know what you mean…I can’t imagine life without my parents. I HATE to think about dying. On a personal level, I am not afraid of dying, but I am afraid of losing others.

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