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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Twilight Years of Life (07/02/09)

TITLE: Broken Vows That Heaven Allows
By Mariane Holbrook


No longer he rises to greet her as wife
Though they have been married for most of her life.
She longs to embrace him and say, “I love you.”
But who is this stranger? He has not a clue.

For years he’s regressed to the state he’s now in;
She tries to remember, “When did it begin?”
Her job on the Court, so demanding each day,
Meant there were more times when she must be away.

At last it was clear John would need better care;
The Alzheimer’s wing was an answer to prayer.
He no longer noticed ‘twas Sandra who came
To visit him daily; he knew not her name.

On one of her visits, a patient walked in,
She hugged and kissed John, asked him how he had been.
“This is my girlfriend,” John said to his wife.
“She said she would love me the rest of my life.”

And Sandra O’Connor, with arms opened wide
Said hello to John’s girlfriend but inside she cried.
The man whom she married a long time ago
Had long since forgotten; she knew it was so.

She watched as the couple held hands and they kissed
Not knowing that these were the things Sandra missed.
God gave understanding to Sandra that day:
The love John once gave her was all gone away.

On each of her visits, she held them both tight
And told them their love is a beautiful sight.
For John had a new love; her eyes brightly shown
And Sandra would love her like she was her own.

Each time Sandra visited, John called her “friend.”
She knew it’d be hard but she vowed to pretend.
Though John may not know her the rest of his life,
In heaven he’ll tell her, “You once were my wife.”

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Member Comments
Member Date
Charla Diehl 07/09/09
This tender poem had me misty eyed--especially the last line. Beautifully crafted, on topic, and unfortunately, so true to life for too many. Thank God this life isn't the real end!
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/09/09
I thought it was sad when I read this in the news, and your telling of it in a poem was even sadder. You really did a good job of showing the magnanimous heart of Judge O'Conner. Well done.
Laura Manley07/10/09
This was a very sad poem. I have observed these things happen when my parents were in a nursing home. I found the rhythym in your poem to be as perfect as I have read. There was only one place where I stumbled, that being where you rhymed "in" with "been." Just seemed off a bit. Otherwise, I found this entry to be very interesting, thought-provoking and well written. Laura
Sonya Leigh07/10/09
I have never contemplated the possibility of this occurring as someone is overtaken by Alzheimers. All the more special, then, was the selfless care of Sandra O'Connor who embraced the reality of eternity and had to let go of this life in faith. Thanks for writing this, it was a very soul-searching piece.
Mona Purvis07/10/09
Ooh...So very splendid is this poem in every way. Such a story, so much depth. Wonderful characterization. There are so many well-written pieces on FW each challenge...then one like this comes along and re-defines excellence.
Lynda Schultz 07/10/09
A heart-breaker. Very well done.
Patricia Herchenroether07/10/09
The title is perfect for this well-metered poem. I didn't like the first two stanzas for some reason. (I'm not experienced enough to tell you why). But from the third on, I was captivated. What a caring, forgiving wife! Yeah, I'm tearful.
Gregory Kane07/11/09
Dreadfully sad but wonderfully evocative. Thanks for pushing the boundaries.
Connie Dixon07/11/09
I've read this a few times now. It's really sad the way life ends sometimes...most times, maybe. This was masterfully written.
Colin Swann07/12/09
Oh boy, this is sad. But so true to life. Please Lord let me die with dignity. Thank you for getting us thinking with your meaningful rhyme. Colin
Joy Faire Stewart07/13/09
I had not heard this about Sandra O'Connor. Though very sad, you told it beautifully.
Chely Roach07/13/09
So sad. Beautifully bittersweet. Well done!
Bryan Ridenour07/13/09
Wonderful poetry taking look at a topic that tugs at the heart strings. Beautifully done!
Christina Banks 07/15/09
Sad and beautiful. Well done!
Diana Dart 07/15/09
Wow. I had never heard this story before and I'm left deeply touched. Your title was perfect, with carefully chosen words, thoughts and pace. Beautiful. This one will stick around in my heart long after reading it.
Sara Harricharan 07/15/09
Wow. This was touching. Wonderfully done. ^_^
Karlene Jacobsen07/15/09
This was so sad. The pain of loss is incomprehensible.
Joy Faire Stewart07/16/09
So touching...Congratulations on your EC.
Eliza Evans 07/16/09
Fantastic entry, Mariane, in every way.

George Parler 07/17/09
Beautifully sad. My heart grew heavier with each word I read. While I knew where this was heading I was compelled to read on because I knew as a reader I needed to share her pain. Excellent writing, Mariane. Bravo!
Sharon Kane07/17/09
Very sad story and a beautifully written poem. You portrayed the sadness and love sitting side by side in Sandra's heart superbly.
I must confess I found the title disturbing; I don't think we can come to any conclusions about how God really judges these thorny and painful situations. I'm not saying he will judge this as transgression, just that I'm not comfortable assuming that he won't.
Verna Cole Mitchell 07/17/09
Woo Hoo, Congratulations on placing AGAIN in EC with this bittersweet, thought-provoking piece.
Helen Dowd07/19/09
Mariane, this is so touching. I wrote a poem on Alzheimers too, but this one is one that wrenches at the heart, brings tears to the eyes, and a love for the wife who was so loving and understanding....Remarkable! Had I been a judge, you would have been FIRST.
Edy T Johnson 07/19/09
Bravo and congratulations, dear Mariane! You always know how to pull the heartstrings writing on the pathos which is life.

Your title might give a person pause, but obviously Heaven "allows" this confusing dementia to interrupt the bonds of matrimony, for some purpose. I like to think these "slivers of the cross" are part of the price we pay to be conformed to the image of Christ Jesus.