Who Will Separate Us?

A young couple discovers the real meaning of love.
by John Mullan, LC | Source:
Mauricio was set for life. He was dating Claudia, the woman he loved most in the world, and nothing else mattered. Job, house and all the rest would work themselves out, but what really mattered was that he had found the woman God called him to marry.

Then Claudia broke the news to him. What looked from the outside like mild asthma was really a much more serious illness. She had cystic fibrosis, and the doctors were projecting that she had less than a year to live.

Mauricio was crushed. He had been dreaming about a long life with Claudia, and could already almost flip through the photo album of all the precious times he would have with her. How many tender moments, how many words and smiles of support, how many difficulties faced side by side. Then, when God would give them children, playing with them, teaching them to love God. Now, everything felt different. His photo album shrank to just a few pages, most of them difficult moments for Claudia, difficult moments for himself.

He spent that whole night tossing and turning, not knowing what to do. Morning came and still no answer. Not knowing what else to do, Mauricio set off for the church. The pastor was surprised to see the young man walk slowly up to the last pew, take one look at the crucifix, and bury his head in his hands. After Mass, the pastor asked if he could help with anything. When he heard the situation, he gave what advice he could. Mauricio walked out of the church stronger in mind with the words of the priest, but even stronger in heart with the grace of the Eucharist.

“Claudia, we need to have a serious talk. I had wanted to ask you to marry me this May, but I don’t think that will work now.”

Claudia buried her head in her hands, not wanting Mauricio to see how devastated she felt. She only barely caught his next words.

“What do you say we have the wedding next month, in January? Will you marry me?”

Claudia couldn’t say anything. With tears streaming down her cheeks, she embraced him. It was the only way she could say yes.

The wedding was tough to organize on such short notice, but both families understood and did all they could to help the couple. Claudia and Mauricio cared little about a picture-perfect wedding. They had what is most important, and they knew for sure that their love was strong enough to face anything, especially when God gave them even more graces in the sacrament of marriage.

A few weeks after their honeymoon Claudia’s breathing became more and more laborious, even with the best medicines the doctors could find. Two months after their wedding, she had to move permanently to the hospital.

Mauricio never once left her side. If God was only giving him a few brief months to be with Claudia, he wanted to make sure he gave her all the love he possibly could. Day and night he watched and cared for her.

After all, that is what marriage is about, being there for the other, whether things are going well or things are going poorly, whether we feel good or not. What counts is the other person, and what we can do to serve them. True love means self-giving. Emotions are the icing on the cake, sometimes there but sometimes not.

What a different world it would be if everyone decided to enter marriage with Mauricio and Claudia’s attitude. Divorce would almost certainly disappear. The toughest moments would become the best moments, the precious opportunities to prove we truly love.

It was getting on in the month of May, a little over four months into their marriage, when Claudia’s symptoms became much more serious. In one of her last moments of lucidity, and between deep, rasping breaths, Claudia whispered to Mauricio, the one she knew now really loved her,

“It’s May, when we should have been married. I don’t think any bride has been as happy as I am now. Thank you. You’ve made it all worthwhile.”

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