Of all of the gifts that Jack and Barbara had been given, there were three that were most special for them: the gift of their meeting, the gift of love and the gift of time. Happily ever after didn’t have anything on these two…until one fateful day 32 years later. Living in a small southern town, Barbara had refused beau after beau for years. None were good enough. None fit the bill. She had finally resolved herself to living alone with her four-legged best buddy, Happy. She was content in her new townhouse. What more could she need? She had a nice home, a good job and her four-legged best buddy.
One month later, a gentleman named Jack moved in two doors down. Barbara hardly gave him a second glance…until one day she needed help starting her car. He was eager to give her a hand as he had been hoping for a chance to meet her, but never quite knew how. Barbara had been so taken by his charm and quick wit that she found herself giddy around him. She had finally found the right man. And he had found the right woman.
They married later that year and never had any regrets about such a speedy courtship. They were inseparable. Barbara was deeply in love with Jack and couldn’t imagine a more wonderful man.
Then, after 32 happy years, they got news that would forever change their lives. Jack was diagnosed with cancer. Barbara was with him when the doctors gave him the prognosis. It felt as though her heart had been ripped from her chest. Everything that they had planned for the future was no longer valid. Sadness overcame Barbara, but she knew she had to be strong for Jack. She couldn’t let him have to worry about her fears and feelings. She had to muddle through this.
Jack suffered through two fruitless rounds of chemo. The tumor had taken hold and metastasized. He opted to go without any more meds or treatments. He loved his life and couldn’t deteriorate the quality any longer. He was determined to enjoy the remainder of his time…regardless of how much there was left. He needed to enjoy his time with Barbara. He needed to see her happy…not worrying about how sick he was.
A vacation was just what they needed. That time was spent ocean side and produced the most beautiful memories of their lives. They spent hours walking under the beautiful sun and reflecting on their marriage and their life. The ocean setting provided them with a much needed relief. All the pertinent issues no longer seemed relevant. Most nights they fell asleep holding each other or, at the very least, holding hands. Barbara and Jack relished this time they had. They focused on each other and each other’s happiness.
One year later, Jack’s condition took a turn for the worst. They had plans to renew their vows on their 32ndAnniversary, but Barbara couldn’t stand to see him struggling. She asked to cancel, but Jack wouldn’t hear it. He knew how happy this would make her. As touched as she was, she hated to see him so weak. His persistence would stay in her heart forever.
While he was unable to shop for a card for the occasion, he enlisted a friend to shop and choose three cards for him. The friend called Jack to read the favored cards and Jack chose the one he would have bought for her.
At the ceremony, he gave Barbara her card. It read: “Our Love Will Last Forever.” In awe at the utter perfection of the card, she cried. Though he was weak, he still managed to bring her the utmost delight.
It seemed as though Jack had been holding on just for Barbara because two days after their renewal, Jack succumbed to the cancer that had riddled his body. Barbara couldn’t believe that his fight was finally over. The last 19 months proved to be one of the best gifts that they could have hoped for. This time brought them closer than they had ever been and gave them a new understanding of the words: “Our Love Will Last Forever.”