Till Death Do Us Part

Posted: Friday, January 4, 2008 at 12:00 am
By: Doug Lund
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"I, Angelique,Take you, Michael,To be my husbandTo have and to hold,From this day forward,For better, for worse,For richer, for poorer,In sickness and in health,To love and to cherish,’Till death do us part."
 
 
Linda and I were among those sitting in church that day, in 1994, when her niece, Angie, said those words as she held hands with and looked into the eyes of her big strapping new husband, Mike, at the altar.
 
I first met Angie when Linda and I were dating about 25 years ago.
Her folks (Linda’s sister, Renee and husband, Swede) lived in the Omaha suburb of Millard.
Angie stood out from her brother and three sisters because she suffered from curvature of the spine. She had to have a rod surgically implanted in her back and wear a body cast from the waist to her neck throughout much of her adolescence.
I felt so sorry for this beautiful young girl having to endure such pain and confinement. But to my surprise, Angie didn’t feel sorry for herself..or at least never showed it when we were around.
After she finally stopped growing, Angie’s cast was removed to reveal a stunningly statuesque young woman standing straight and tall.
 
While attending hair styling school, Angie was picked to be a hair “model”..a job that took her to Paris for several months.
I always thought that was a just reward for this strong young girl who had been through so much.
 
Eventually, Angelique met, fell in love with, and married Mike Jespersen. They had two children, Son Collin and daughter Chandra. 
Things for them were going along great until about a year and a half ago when Mike’s mother died suddenly.
Within weeks, he was let go from his job as an IT placement representative.
Devastated but undaunted, Mike was in the process of sending out resumes confident he would find something else to enable his family to continue their comfortable lifestyle when he noticed a lump on his neck.
Before long there were other health issues and then on Good Friday, doctors called Mike and Angie in to give them the news that, at the age of just 45,  he had cancer and it was bad.
Angie took a leave of absence from her job working with special needs kids to be at Mike’s side throughout the long months of chemotherapy, radiation and treatments for his ever increasing pain that followed.
 Angelique and Mike mustering a smile through the pain
At the urging of friends, Angie, reluctantly at first, started giving a daily account of Mike’s progress and setbacks on the Caringbridge website. It proved to be good therapy for her and Mike too as they began getting responses from friends, family and total strangers concerned about their ordeal and sending prayers and good wishes for healing.
 
But healing wasn’t  to be.
Mike did get his wish to see the family open their Christmas presents around the tree that had been set up in his bedroom.
He then reluctantly accepted his fate.One last picture with the kids at Christmas
Here’s Angie’s last entry on Caringbridge from December 28th.
 
“Dear family and friends, Collin and I were at Mike’s side this morning when he took his final breath at 9 a.m.We’re so happy his suffering has ended.He was a true warrior!
May God bless and keep you forever at His side.
As Angie shared personal memories of Mike at his funeral this week,  I thought about the vows they made at their wedding so many years ago.
I couldn’t help but wonder how many of us, who’ve stood at the alter making the same promises to each other; realize the degree of that commitment.
Angie certainly did… and in the eyes of all who know her, will forever stand straight and tall in more ways than one.

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