Del Hayes Press

Requiem for a Dear Companion

As we typically experience it, a requiem is a grand musical composition meant to honor a deceased person, but the more memorable instances were composed in memory of, and to honor the death of, Jesus Christ. Works such as the famous Mozart and Brahms Requiems, and the massive Grande Messe des Morts of Berlioz, are perhaps the best known examples.

This requiem, however, is written not so much to remember the death, but more so to honor the life, of my Dear Companion.

On June 2, 2012, two lives came to an end. One was the life of Marjorie Colleen Cady Hayes. And with her, after fifty five years, four months, six days and approximately one hour, in a very literal sense, my marriage to the love of my life also came to an end. On this tenth year of those two passings, it seems fitting to in some way offer a requiem to remember, and honor, both those lives.

That marriage legally began on a Sunday afternoon, January 27, 1957, at a small church in Iola, Kansas. But in reality, or at least emotionally, I always believed that marriage started long before that, on a Tuesday night, April 17, 1956.

I first met Colleen the day she walked into Mr. Kennedy’s General Chemistry class, at the beginning of our two years at Iola Junior College (that later became the Allen County Community College). For those two years, we studied together. We worked on school projects together. And on occasions I somewhat manipulated, had a Coke and hamburger together. We liked each other. We became good friends. But, for a variety of reasons, we never had a date, never “went together.”

We made it official, that wintry January Sunday

On that Tuesday night, just a few weeks before we were to graduate, part paths and likely never meet again, the stars aligned. We had that first date. And that night, we discovered how much we truly cared for each other. Sixteen days later, I told her I hoped to marry her. Later that night she confessed to her diary how much in favor of that she felt. On a wintry Sunday afternoon the following January, we made it official.

As thoughts of this piece floated through my mind, I struggled over what should be said, and perhaps not said. How does one appropriately pay tribute to a life, a love, a marriage? All the adjectives, the poems she loved, all the words that came to mind, all seemed superfluous, inadequate. Then, the words of Jonathon Edwards, regarding his marriage to his wife, Sarah, came to mind.

I first learned of Edwards years ago when I purchased a copy of Marriage to a Difficult Man, by Elisabeth D. Dodds. Edwards was a New England minister who came to dominate much of the decades immediately preceding the Revolutionary War. He was a towering intellectual, introverted, complicated, and prone to moodiness.

In contrast to his nature, Sarah was cheerful, extroverted, supportive, a friend to all who met her, and a wonderful mother to their eleven children. Two such disparate personalities by today’s standards would seem destined for divorce court. Yet, Edwards’ last words, whispered to his doctor and two of his grown children at his deathbed, were about his marriage:

“Give my kindest love to my dear wife, and tell her that the uncommon union which has so long subsisted between us has been of such a nature as I trust is spiritual and therefore will continue forever” (the italics are mine; that description of his marriage struck a deep resonant chord within me).

In various ways, Colleen and I were much like Sarah and Jonathon in our fundamental natures. There were many reasons why their marriage could have, perhaps should have, ended in failure. Instead, her extroverted nature countered his reticence, his tendencies toward brooding. His deep intellect broadened her horizons, his steadfastness stabilized her life. The strengths of one offset the weaknesses of the other. Together, they were far stronger than either could have been alone.

In many ways, that was the essence of our marriage. We were far stronger together, our strengths and weaknesses offsetting each other, than we could have ever been as individuals. Try as I might, I simply cannot conceive of having spent my life without Colleen always alongside me. That June day, Colleen was not only physically taken from me, but something deep within me was also taken, leaving a void that has never since been filled .

And that, I now believe, is the answer to my struggles over how best to reflect on Colleen’s life and our marriage, our life together. That April night we became bonded in ways I was, before that night, unaware that two people could feel about each other.

Our marriage, in my mind at least, came to an end that June Saturday only on this earthly vale of tears. It was, I now believe, as Jonathon Edwards said of his marriage, of such a nature that it was indeed “spiritual…and will therefore continue forever.”

More posts you might enjoy:
Brighten the Corner

A quick perusal of the dates of my previous posts will show that quite some time has passed since my Read more

To Publish or Not to Publish

Back in the 50’s, Chevrolet launched a TV ad campaign based on the slogan, “See the USA in your Chevrolet” Read more

“Make me care!”
Image for "Make me care!" blog post

How three words from a master storyteller brought a new focus to my writing.

Is It Live, or Is It Fiction?

Sometimes there's an uncanny intersection between fiction and reality.

1 thought on “Requiem for a Dear Companion”

  1. Mary M. Langford

    Del–I begin with a long-overdue apology. We corresponded by email about my need for a printer for my little book for survivors of suicide. You were willing to help, but it was not a fit, and I never let you know that a friend had found an online printer for me. It was all arranged by the Lord, and so has worked out well.
    Now to your piece about your dear companion. I so appreciated the way you described you marriage. What a blessing for both of you! My husband and I were married for 64 years. Our anniversary was June 3, yesterday. But he was not here to mark it with me. The Lord called him home two years ago. We had such wonderful adventures together, and served the Lord as best we could. It was not all sweetness and light, but we were commited to Him and to each other. We, too, had an uncommon union, and I am so grateful for the years and the experiences the Lord gave us. Mary Langford

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top