If you're very lucky, life (which can sometimes be so cruel) sweetly blesses you with an extra little bit of family - people who aren't related to you at all, but feel like they are just the same.
That's Walter and Peggy.
Walter is my Dad's oldest friend - a singing buddy who goes back more than 60 years. Peggy is his wife. Theirs is a love story that spans nearly six decades, and how fortunate I've been to be able sit back and watch just a little of it from the sidelines. Their devotion, tenderness, humor - a love so great that it radiated from their faces like light.
As old friends who felt more like family than some of the family I have, they were guests at our wedding. Special guests, as it turned out.
Instead of throwing my bouquet at the reception, I decided I would give it to the couple who'd been married the longest to honour their commitment and to show what an inspiration they were to me, my marriage just hours old at the time. Walter and Peggy had just celebrated their 55th anniversary and were shocked and delighted to be called up to receive the bouquet.
A month or so later a little package arrived for me. Peggy had dried a handful of the roses and tied them up in a blue ribbon that matched the dress my Maid of Honour wore.
That little dried bouquet now hangs in our bedroom in a shadow box along with My Beloved's boutonniere and one of our invitations.
Walter and Peggy were at the funeral parlor when my Grandfather died, honorary grandparents to me, by this point, and when Thomas died they both called my parents in tears. We didn't know (things were so private back then), but they lost a little girl, their second child, many years ago and were kind enough to talk about her and about the impact she had - and still has - on their lives.
They've just always been there. Walter and Peggy.
Last night Peggy slipped away in her sleep. Walter is alone for the first time in almost 60 years. Tonight he will lay down in an empty bed and begin the first night of a new life without his beloved.
All of us who love risk loss, but risking it and facing it are two very different things.
I've lost my ability to trust in the power of prayer the way I used to, but I do believe it's possible to ask God to give people the strength and support they need to endure their sorrows and to find peace. And so I'll be saying a prayer for dear old Walter before I go to sleep tonight.
If you have a moment and are so inclined, maybe you could too?
I imagine peace will be hard for him to find tonight.