Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8).
During the early years after Bob Boyd’s brain injury, the result of a massive brain tumor, Sheila Boyd couldn’t share their story in public. It was too raw, too discouraging for them. The parents of three growing sons, they were consumed with trying to establish a new normal in their marriage and family life. “I had to watch the person I love go through a lot of loss,” Sheila said.
But God brought them together in the sacrament of marriage and gave them the grace to rise above the loss. On this Valentine’s Day — and the last day of National Marriage Week — their story offers insights that would benefit all of our readers. It is the love that Paul speaks about so eloquently in his first letter to the Corinthians.
• Attend Mass regularly. Sheila and Bob didn’t make it to Mass regularly after he became ill because of his anxiety in crowds. But they worked through the steps to deal with it. Bob told Sheila, “We need to go back to church. I need God; we need God.”
• Reach out to your pastor in times of need. Father Joe Wolf, pastor of Our Lady of the River Parish in LeClaire, helped Bob re-learn the catechesis he first learned as he prepared to enter the Catholic Church at the time of his marriage in July 1999. Sheila also benefited from Fr. Wolf’s guidance. At one point, she expressed anger at God, and the pastor walked her through that anger.
• Get counseling, if necessary, for everyone in the family. Sheila and Bob’s sons — ages 18, 15 and 12 — have to shoulder more responsibility than many of their peers. They step up to the plate and intuitively know when they need to provide help. They take their dad on errands and to appointments, help with cooking supper and make sure that someone is keeping an eye on him because it isn’t safe to leave him alone for long periods of time. Love bears all things.
• Appreciate the small graces from God in daily life. “As a couple, we definitely have become content with appreciating each other for the little things,” Sheila said. It might be Sheila saying thanks to Bob for switching the laundry or Bob saying thanks to Sheila for taking him to see his mother. “It comes down to the small stuff and recognizing God brought us together for a reason,” Sheila said.
• Reflect on what the sacrament of marriage means. Since Bob’s illness, he and Sheila have thought about and reflected on the vows they made nearly 20 years ago. Challenges exist in every marriage, so circle back to the promises and the commitment. Sheila knows that God is present in their marriage and that she is supposed to be there for Bob and he is supposed to be there for her. “We just know it differently than other couples.”
National Marriage Week serves as a reminder to reflect on the gift of marriage to our church and to our country — every day, and not just once a year. A terrific resource for married couples is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s “For Your Marriage” website. Visit www.for
yourmarriage.org for more inspiring stories and suggestions to appreciate, celebrate and promote the sacrament of marriage. Paul’s passage about love in his first letter to the Corinthians was directed at encouraging the love of a community’s members for one another. In a sense, that is what Sheila and Bob are doing. They have the courage to give testimony, publicly, to Paul’s truth about love: “it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
Barb Arland-Fye, Editor