All too often marriage vows fall short of the promise of “until death do us part,” but in the case of one man and his late wife, those vows went through a long and happy life – and then even beyond the grave.
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Revere resident and East Boston native Al Edmunds, 75, has penned an emotional and personal love story called ‘Soul Mates for Eternity: A Love Story’ about his life with his late wife, Marion (Salerno) Edmunds. The story not only details the heartwarming love-at-first-sight tale and the full life they lived together for more than 50 years, but also the all-consuming love that Edmunds said has continued in spirit and in physical form after her death.
“I’ve come to a conclusion after all these years that coincidences like these – like meeting your soulmate – are not coincidences, but things that have to do with some fate we don’t understand,” Edmunds told the paper.
High School Sweethearts
The story begins with Edmunds sitting in his East Boston room as a teen-ager praying for God to bring him a girlfriend. He was only 13 at the time, but he was seeking love – and he personally believes it was the beginning of a path leading to Marion.
“I first met my girl when I was 15 and she was 14, three years after that prayer to God,” he said. “It was three years later, on my first day at East Boston High in English class. This girl walked in that I had never seen before. I was so taken by her…I can still describe her exactly as she was that day. It’s like a film clip in my head. There might have been 100 other girls there at East Boston High, but I couldn’t tell you about a one of them except Marion.”
Knowing that they were deeply in love from an early age, they dated throughout high school. After Edmunds graduated from Boston College, they got married in 1961.
“It was the best day of my life,” Edmunds said.
After living on Neptune Road in Eastie and giving birth to their son, Douglas, the happy couple set out for Revere – buying a house there and settling in for their life.
As they raised their son, and Edmunds built his career in corporate teaching and training for several companies.
However, tragedy struck the couple in the early 2000s when Marion came down with an illness.
On Dec. 4, 2008, Marion passed away.
“Easily the worst day of my life,” Edmunds said.
Therapy Through Words
Following the death of his wife, Edmunds said he was crushed, devastated to be exact, and he realized just how strong the love had been between the two.
“Not until I was older did I know we were soulmates,” he said. “Then, when she died, it was quite evident because the loss was so profound and devastating.”
To help cope, Edmunds said he decided to seek bereavement counseling. He told his story to the counselor week in and week out, and the sessions concluded after six months. But before departing, the counselor told Edmunds that he should consider writing a book about his story – sort of some extended personal therapy. Some 10 months later, he took her advice.
“I’m pretty sure the doctor wanted me to do it more for therapy than anything else,” he said. “I had never written a book, started a book or finished a book. Strangely enough, once I started writing, I couldn’t stop. Before I knew it, I had 18 chapters.”
Frequently, he would let his close friends take a look at the writing, and many of them suggested that the book needed to be seen by the general public – that he should have it published.
“I didn’t intend to write the book to sell to the general public,” he said. “My intent was to write a memoir for my own purposes as a way of therapy. It was therapy, but it was also for my grandchildren to be able to keep and know more about their grandparents. As time went on, more and more people motivated me to publish it and I did. I’m very happy I did…Now my publisher wants me to write another book.”
Beyond the Grave
Edmunds begins the introduction of his book by addressing those who might be skeptical of the second half of his book.
While the first half deals with a fantastic love story on Earth, the second half deals with what Edmunds believes to be his wife’s spirit uniting with him from beyond the grave.
He talks of specific incidents where he believes that his wife’s spirit has entered butterflies – usually blue ones – and gathered around him or landed delicately on his lips.
Such things like that – and the other events described – had never happened to him before.
Those who have lost someone whose soul was intertwined with theirs will know what he’s talking about.
Others – perhaps those who have not experienced the love Edmunds talks about – might be a bit skeptical.
“Some people may think they are unbelievable stories because I describe how butterflies come to me now and they never did before,” he said. “I believe her spirit is united with these large butterflies and has caused them to come up and kiss me on the face as I just sit there.”
Such stories are unique to Edmunds’s book, and he said its part of what he’s discovered about love after losing the one that he loved for so long. He said he has realized love is one of the great mysteries of our time, and that its power is absolutely underestimated by most.
“I think that in general we have mysteries around us concerning what life is about and what happens after we die,” he said. “Is there a heaven? Most people don’t have the answers to that, and I think there are mysteries in the Universe like this…My belief in a spirit world and being with Marion there some day are true to me and very powerful. I don’t expect or need others to believe it to be true, but I certainly believe in the power of it – the power of a love story like this.”