Whatever the exact wording, most wedding ceremonies include some variation on “til death do us part.” Part of what you are signing up for is F O R E V E R with your partner. Setting aside for a moment that many marriages end in divorce rather than death ( a conversation for another day), the idea is still daunting. Because if you are in this together “til death do us part,” that means you better be living LIFE to the fullest with your partner.

It should come as no surprise that I do not believe in an after life. While there are certainly many things that cannot be explained (yet) in this world, the concept of an after life is most likely a early human invention created to help those suffering grief and retain a connection to previous generations. That said, the life we have is the only one we get and that we best spend it with the people we love, doing the things we love.

Ann Druyan & Carl Sagan’s wedding.

I wanted to share this excerpt from a piece by Ann Druyan, distinguished author, science educator, and wife of Carl Sagan. This excerpt is from the end of an article she wrote for Skeptical Inquirer in 2003 about the disconnects of science and religion, which you can read the full text of here.

When my husband died, because he was so famous and known for not being a believer, many people would come up to me-it still sometimes happens-and ask me if Carl changed at the end and converted to a belief in an afterlife. They also frequently ask me if I think I will see him again. Carl faced his death with unflagging courage and never sought refuge in illusions. The tragedy was that we knew we would never see each other again. I don’t ever expect to be reunited with Carl. But, the great thing is that when we were together, for nearly twenty years, we lived with a vivid appreciation of how brief and precious life is. We never trivialized the meaning of death by pretending it was anything other than a final parting. Every single moment that we were alive and we were together was miraculous-not miraculous in the sense of inexplicable or supernatural. We knew we were beneficiaries of chance. . . . That pure chance could be so generous and so kind. . . . That we could find each other, as Carl wrote so beautifully in Cosmos, you know, in the vastness of space and the immensity of time. . . . That we could be together for twenty years. That is something which sustains me and it’s much more meaningful. . . . The way he treated me and the way I treated him, the way we took care of each other and our family, while he lived. That is so much more important than the idea I will see him someday. I don’t think I’ll ever see Carl again. But I saw him. We saw each other. We found each other in the cosmos, and that was wonderful.

Ann Druyan and Carl Sagan, c. 1977, via NPR.org

As you approach life with your partner I want you to keep this sentiment in mind. You have a lifetime together ahead of you. Someday you will be separated by death which is all the more reason to live vibrantly for each other right now. Live in the moment, take risks, love deeply, and don’t let fear hold you back.

Be like Ann & Carl.

And for some musical inspiration, check out “Live in the Moment” by one of my favorite bands, Portugal. The Man.

Let’s live in the moment
Come back Sunday morning
A lie, oh well
When you’re gone
Goodbye, so long, farewell

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