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As Long as You Both shall Live

5 January 2017

Tony and Judith had a long, happy, fruitful, Christian marriage. Just short of 50 years, Judith died of cancer and Tony was left alone. The ‘arithmetic of marriage’ changed as the One made out of Two, which is marriage, was torn apart leaving a Half. Besides all his sorrow in such a disorienting loss, the question presented itself to Tony who lived on in good health: What was he to do with the gift of life still entrusted to him? He set about working out the answer to that question. How he did it and what has come of it, in nearly four years, he tells us in this little booklet.

Those of us who are married or live in a committed partnership cannot escape the question which creeps up on us as the years pass – Which one of us will be left and what will he or she do then? Giving an answer, when the time comes, is a task that will fall to roughly 50% of us. How it is answered depends on circumstances which vary enormously. Sometimes people are left with responsibilities which define what they must do next. For example, they may have young children.

But sometimes the path is not so clear. It is easy to be overwhelmed and paralysed, leaving someone unnecessarily to fritter life away, in front of the telly perhaps. What is God’s call to those who still have a valuable life to live, even though they no longer have the energy of youth? God’s call, as Tony testifies, stops us crumbling before the apparent futility of living through the ‘dying of the light’. God’s call is life-giving grace for people all their days. It says, Wake up and Christ will give you light. Do not grow weary in well doing. (Eph 5.14, Gal.6.9). But this is no cheap grace: listening for the call and finding the way requires our engagement and struggle.

That is the message I take from what Tony has written in ‘As Long as You Both shall Live’. It may be helpful to others. If anyone would like a copy, Tony will be glad to let them have one. I will pass on any request.

Haddon Willmer

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