The recent wildfires in California remind us that life’s trials can challenge not only communities, but also couples. However, three accounts of couples who faced the fires illustrate the principles of unity, sacrifice, and hope.
The first account is of Charles and Sara Rippey. Sweethearts since elementary school, they had just celebrated 75 years of marriage. Charles adored his wife, giving her the nickname “the Queen” when speaking of her. They both perished in their home, spending their last moments together. Their son said, “They just couldn’t be without each other. The fact that they went together is probably what they would have wanted.” This couple illustrates unity not only in how they treated each other, but also in how they spent their last moments together. When difficulties in life arise, a couple that comes together with one purpose and mind can withstand the vicious heat of their metaphorical fires. Their unified front gives them strength to endure to the very end in love and compassion for one another.
The second account is of Armando Berriz and his wife of 55 years, Carmen. Together, they watched as the fire unexpectedly approached their home. After realizing that it was too late to escape the fire, Armando turned to his wife and recommend they get into the pool. Together they sought refuge in the water. He kept them afloat by holding onto the sides of the pool, and she held onto him. He suffered physical injuries as his palms were scalded by the sheer heat of the bricks. Together, they submerged as long as they could, only coming up for air with their noses and mouths. Sadly, Carmen’s lungs were not able to keep up through the night and she gave her last breath in her husband’s arms just as the last of the fire was passing. This couple illustrates sacrifice as Armando gave of himself to try and save the life of his wife. Those that would strengthen their relationship are willing to sacrifice individual will and selfish desires. They seek the happiness of their spouse, thinking of the other’s needs and desires before their own.
The third account is of John and Jan Pascoe. Upon learning that they were in the path of the fire they tried to leave but had no exit. To survive they jumped into their neighbor’s pool for safety from the flames. They spent 6 hours in cold water kept themselves warm by huddling together as they shielded their faces with t-shirts. They both survived while all of their material possessions were destroyed. “We held hands,” John said, “and walked out.” This couple illustrates the hope that a marriage can have, even when all that has been built has seemingly been destroyed.
The accounts of these three couples who faced the fires illustrate the principles of unity, sacrifice, and hope. These principles, when applied in marriage, can help us to face the metaphorical fires that challenge our own marriages.