Dear God –
I have a letter for You to pass on. I include it below. Shannon is with you now, not me, so I can’t just talk to her. I’d like to let her know that I’m getting married in two days. I know full well this isn’t how it works (it’s wrong on so many theological levels), but it feels like the right thing to do.
I’m getting married in two days. Yes, married! Can you believe it? I think you knew Danielle, at least a little bit. She led worship from time to time at our church. She always goes out of her way to welcome new folks to People of Hope, so I’m sure you met her. She remembers meeting you!
I want to tell you about the wedding day, but first I want to thank you for your wedding gift. You gave me the best wedding gift a remarrying widower could possibly want. That day of hospice over a year and a half ago, while your physical body weakened as cancer took its toll, you sat me down, looked me in the eye, and said, “Pete, you are young. Go out and enjoy life. Find someone to love. I want you to be happy. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be gone.” Those simple, profound words opened up the possibility for a new relationship for me. You understood that I’m not a person who enjoys being alone. You remembered that the vows that we made to each other included ‘until death parts us.’ You loved me enough to give me the emotional freedom to step into a new relationship without an ounce of guilt that I somehow ‘betrayed your memory’ in some way. It took courage on your part to let go. Thank you for that gift.
Shannon, you get to be a part of our wedding ceremony. In the prayers we will remember the ways that God blessed marriages in the past, including Danielle’s folks, Dad and Edee, Dad and Mom, your folks, and, yes, Pete and Shannon Reuss. A picture from our wedding will join those other wedding photos (we were so young!). I do not enter inter a new marriage pretending that I have never been married before. I bring all the love that we had for each other forward, knowing full well that I am in a new relationship with a new woman. I have moments of tears as I remember the love we had for each other (I’m wiping some right now), but that past does not consume me. You freed me to love again. Again, thank you.
It’s going to be a fun party! We talked many times about our regrets of not having a dance at our wedding. We were young and didn’t know what a wedding could be like! Well, Shannon, on Saturday we’ll make up for that. We’re still not going to have a lot of dancing (you’ve seen me dance…it’s not pretty) but we’re going one step further: karaoke! Yup, we’ll be singing! You’d be proud. We’ll have games and pizza and family. It’ll be great!
In two days I again will stand with a woman and vow, “Until death parts us.” These are exciting days. Thank you for your part in making it possible.
Your loving husband (for you will always be my first wife),