Until Death Do Us Part

It was a luminous warm day in Vancouver and Ciara had just returned home from St. Vincent’s hospital.  She was 77 years old and the surgery was her seventh hip repair.  It wasn’t that she was uncoordinated and fell a lot, quite the contrary; the problem was her husband Vincenzo wouldn’t leave her alone.  Don’t misunderstand, Ciara encouraged him; it wasn’t Vincenzo’s fault.  In fact, from the time of their youthful marriage at ages 19 and 20 respectively, their romantic zeal for each other had steadily increased, not diminished.  Statistically, most couples start with a fire that burns hot for perhaps a couple of years and then begins to cool, especially once children are born, diaper pails fill, sleeps are interrupted, etcetera.  But with Ciara and Vincenzo it was not so.  They began with an intense flame and it got hotter by the year.  In spite of their nine children, each year their emotional love and physical passion grew stronger.  At the ages of 77 and 78 respectively, Ciara and Vincenzo were old bodies in a bonfire of sensual excitement.  Their case was unique in my experience. She had had her seven hip surgeries, but fortunately no other complications linked to their lovemaking.  Vincenzo, however, had so far had three minor strokes and two significant heart attacks.  These emergencies didn’t deter him in the least.  His medications seemed to be helping and he was simply glad to be alive.  In fact, when the pretty young check out girls at the supermarket would occasionally ask how he was doing, he’d always reply, “Any day above ground is a good day.”  To which they’d smile and watch him walk away tentatively as old men do, never once guessing from his appearance the lover he was with Ciara in private.  To my knowledge, Ciara and Vincenzo were both sincerely and deeply happy in spite of their various medical issues.  In fact, I know they were rather proud that since the day they had said their young vows before God in Saint Michael’s Church in Vancouver British Columbia Canada at 3:15 p.m. on May 30th, 1952, together they had worn out thirty mattresses and box springs.  Every time they bought a new bed set they framed the bill of sale and hung it next to the other framed bills above their bed. And above the centre of their headboard a small coat hook was mounted and from it hung a pair of pink oven mitts.  During their until death do us part vows, just before he said “I do,” Vincenzo recalled the first time he had seen Ciara; she was wearing loose jogging pants with the word JUICY printed in large pink letters on her rump.  That had caught his attention and he had introduced himself immediately.  When she faced him with her pretty smile and perfect breasts and gold crucifix showing, he knew he had found his life.


It would be wrong, however, to imagine that their love was only a physical passion or a lust that increased through the years and so led to their serious physical health issues. All evidence indicates that there was an ever-intensifying emotional love they shared and this love contributed to their growing financial crisis and debt.  Their financial records show that from their earliest years of marriage they had spent a significant amount of money on non-essential romantic expenses.  Candlelight dinners at Lorenzo’s or Luigi’s at least three times a week, for example, plus countless gifts and sweets and floral reminders of their romance.  Not to mention the romantic cruises and trips and lavish hotels. But even here there seems to have been a depth, and not just materialistic luxury, because they spent considerable sums in Italy and Spain on tutors so that they could master their languages and read their great poets to each other.  Modern editions of the poets were acceptable, but not ideal, and Vincenzo accumulated debt as he purchased for Ciara rare original letters and longer manuscripts of Dante and Neruda.

Their conflagration of passionate bodies and souls eventually reached an extraordinary end. According to medical records, on July 9th, 2009, they died in bed together in Venice, apparently of simultaneous heart attacks during simultaneous orgasms.  Fortunately, their life insurance covered their extensive debts.  I was immediately contacted.  Their children asked me, as their parents’ family physician, to conduct an autopsy and I immediately flew over from Canada.  Italian officials at San Paulo hospital in Venice complied with their request and I was allowed to create a simple report for the family.  Given my twenty-some year knowledge of Ciara and Vincenzo’s extraordinary reversal of marriage patterns, when I came to perform the autopsy I expected some sort of revelation that my previous routine check ups had not disclosed, some sort of extreme explanation for their memorable lives, perhaps they were aliens or terminator robots or saints, something, but all I found was natural human flesh and bones, free from any libido-enhancing drugs or chemical explanations for their consuming fire for each other.  To be frank, I am mystified, because it seems that they were simply unique victims of some sort.


by Vic Cavalli  |   Featuring artwork by Damianovskaia  | Featured image by Kira Leigh 

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Vic Cavalli

Professor Vic Cavalli brings to the English Department expertise in both early-modern religious literature and in creative writing. His research on Robert Southwell has been published in Recusant History, Faith & Reason, and Ushaw Magazine. His poetry, short fiction, photography, and visual art have been published in literary journals in Canada, the United States, England, North Africa, and Australia.