I was not there to witness the bullets, but I did witness the vows.
They were wedding vows to a beautiful woman made by a man who had been shot in the chest six days earlier. For better or for worse, richer or poorer, sickness and health, until death do us part. Familiar wedding vows, but never quite like this.
I sat in the row with my neighbors and it echoed, this phrase, until death do us part. Until death do us part, between a couple who had almost been parted six days before vows were made. Until death do us part, but not quite yet.
I sat and remembered making the same vow to the man who sat next to me, squeezing my hand. Seven years ago we said, “Until we are parted by death”, and I remember that moment, those words, with perfect clarity. This clarity is surprising to me because so many of my wedding day memories are now blurry. But that moment I know, its sharp colors and lines imprinted in my brain by the gravity of the phrase. As I spoke it, I was shocked. How could these words be spoken into a day so filled–filled almost to the breaking point–with life? At that moment death seemed foreign, impossible, and yet there I was, binding myself to a mortal.
There was no other way. I knew it then, but I know it better now.
Last night after the vows were spoken and the couple pronounced, we celebrated. Life in the face of death, we feasted and toasted.
And together, we thanked God for another day.