Allie: Do you think our love, can take us away together?
Duke: I think our love can do anything we want it to.
Allie: I love you.
Duke: I love you, Allie.
Allie: Good night.
Duke: Good night. I’ll be seeing you.
So ends the life-long love story of Noah and Allie, expertly penned by Nicholas Sparks in the bestseller The Notebook. It is a bittersweet moment and brings the audience to tears. At this end of both the book and the movie, the main characters pass away. Yet it can be an uplifting ending, as we feel comforted that they get to do so together, in a loving embrace, on their own terms.
There are numerous accounts of long-time, married couples dying within minutes, hours or days of each other. More common are the stories of long-time, inseparable couples passing away within several months of each other.
We now know that dying of a broken heart is very real and that deep love is powerful enough to keep couples together in life, and in death. In fact, it is considered one of the best-documented examples of social relations on health. (Christakis and Elwert, University of Wisconsin, 2008).
For the family members left behind, the death of a beloved mother or father is always a devastating blow. But the death of the second parent so close in time to the first comes with special meaning of its own. In addition to overwhelming grief, feelings of vulnerability increase. It can intensify our childhood memories and force us to ask one of greatest of life’s questionswhat is the meaning of it all?
The legacy of wisdom, values and stories passed to us by our parents cannot adequately replace the hole left in one’s heart after their passing. It can, however, provide peace, guidance and hope during the dark days of grief. Our parents’ visions, dreams and lessons-learned (and shared) can serve as beacons in navigating the days, weeks and months following their death.
There is solace and comfort to be found with the concept that their love was so strong it didn’t know the bounds of life and death. There is a simple beauty in the end of a story in which the loose ends aren’t just tied up, but are bound together for eternity.
I recently lost my father (Nate Wagner died at 95) and subsequently my mother (Shirley Wagner died at 90) passed just a few months later. It does offer me much comfort that I had them as a very important part of my life for so much of my adulthood. This blog post is dedicated to their beloved souls bound up in eternity. I miss them both dearly everyday.
P.S. On July 1st Canada celebrated its’ 150th Anniversary of Confederation with lots of festivities and fireworks across the country. It is amazing to think that Canada was only 55 years old when my Dad was born and the 20th century history he witnessed in his 95-year lifetime. Happy Birthday Canada!