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“the cup” : a story of marriage.

January 1, 2014

While digging for an unrelated file on my hard drive, I found this story. I didn’t write it. I am passing it along.

Years ago, I am guessing I had copied this story from an online source to a document page so I could save it on my computer. Trouble is, I can’t remember what the online source was, (or if I did indeed get it from an online source), where I found the story, or who wrote it. I even searched on google for it, but could not find the story. 

But.. regardless of whether you are married, contemplating marriage, or want something thought-provoking and deep to read, you will likely find this to be a good story.

The Cup.

Just after the wedding ceremony was performed, after the saying of vows, and exchanging of the rings, just after their first kiss as man and wife, just after they turned to face the crowd of relatives and friends, a very small container with a cup inside, appeared in the pocket of the new husband.

The container and the cup are miraculously given to every husband who truly loves the woman he is marrying, and is marrying a woman who truly loves him.

He did not know how it got there, and neither do I.  I also do not know if his wife received one, for I am a man. I know of men’s rites and rituals, and know nothing of women’s rites and rituals. That is as it should be.

The husband noticed a small weight in his pocket. Like most men, the husband was right handed, and so the container and the cup were inside the vest pocket on his right side.

He was so busy with the activities of the reception, and the lovemaking in the luxurious hotel suite after, that he did not reach into his pocket until the next day.

His wife had already woken up, being more of an early riser than he. She had showered, and was cooking him breakfast. It was his turn for a shower. They had bathed many times together before they had gotten married, so it was not a concern for either of them that they had not showered together after making love.

What was important was that they had never made love like this before they had been married.

The husband finished his shower, shaved, put on some fresh boxers, and his favorite pair of jeans.

He had not drunk much at all the night before, and was feeling clear headed and refreshed and awake.

It was that morning he first fully noticed that he had a container in his pocket. He earlier had thought it was a dream.

He was perplexed to feel a weight in his right pocket. He reached down into it, and pulled up a small container, a very plain but sturdy metal container. It looked new.

He opened it, and inside there was a metal holder, which contained a tiny cup. It was about the size of the tiny plastic glasses he had drunk of when taking part of a communion service when he was young. When he was a child, it had been grape juice.. his Protestant forbears rebelling against the Catholics, and eschewing the wine in favor of juice.

The tiny cup in the container had liquid in it. It was clear, but had a slightly green tint, a green of new leaves.

He took the cup out, and smelled it. The most lovely aroma of fresh cut mint leaves.. he drank it, and felt the intense flavor slide down his throat, and leave him with the feeling of having breathed the most fresh mountain air, at the top of a snowy mountain while seeing the sunrise.

Strangely, he did not not think to tell his wife about the cup, or what was in it.

He replaced the cup, closed the lid, put the container back in his pocket.

He did not notice its weight, until a month later, after the honeymoon.

He had been home for a few days, alone one evening while his new bride was out shopping with her girlfriends.

It was then that he found the container and the cup, in the pocket of an old pair of short pants he was wearing.

This time he opened the container, but did not drink, although there was a fragrant smell emanating from the tiny cup.

Instead, rather perplexed, and a little concerned, he called me.

I am not his father. His father had left he and his mother when he was 5, and the father had died 6 years later. Heart failure, it was said, although he had not been known to have a heart condition.

When the husband was 15, he took up an internship at the local newspaper, where I was a writer. My own father was the editor there.

The years passed, and my father retired. I took over as chief editor, and the man who became the husband became a journalist, and was rather good. He was talented enough, and worked hard enough that he transferred to a major city a few hour’s drive away, then later, quit his job as a print journalist, after writing and publishing his first book.

By the age of 31, the age at which he got married, he was a successful author. He still kept in contact with me, during these years. And we talked often. Usually by phone, sometimes in person.

It was on this certain evening that he called me, a few nights after his honeymoon.

I was not surprised to hear from him, sensing that he and I would have to talk about a very important and personal thing. Sometimes this conversation would take place between father and son. The conversation about the cup. I had had this conversation with my own father.

Since I was as close to a father as this young man had, he called and asked me about the cup.

I told him that the cup usually would appear in the right pocket of whatever he was wearing, once a week, and sometimes much more often. In times of great trouble, the cup and its container would appear once a day, even once an hour.

I told him that I had received such a cup during my wedding night, and like him, had drank from it the night after for the first time. Like his, the thin liquid in my cup had tasted of mint.

I told him that each week, the cup would appear, and it would always appear when he was alone. He was not to tell his wife about the cup, nor would he ever have the urge to do so. This was a man’s ritual.

He asked if his wife had a cup, and I told him I did not know, because no man knows this. It is not something a man wonders about once he is told about the cup. It is part of the miracle.

I told him that each week he should drink of the cup.

Sometimes the liquid therein would be sweet and light, sometimes a darker tasting flavor, like excellent red wine. Sometimes there would hardly be any flavor at all, and sometimes the cup would taste of tears.

I told him the liquid in the cup was the measure of the marriage. Sweet and fresh would be the flavor of still new love, or a rebirth of that feeling, after things had been difficult.

A pleasant spiced citrus flavor would be that of a time of endearing love, only occurring during a time in which he and his wife had been especially good to each other.

The dark red wine was of a more mature love, something that he would not taste for many years. Sometimes that red wine would have a very rich flavor of mature, strong love.

There would always be an accompanying aroma, I told him. I told him the aroma would not always be sweet, but regardless of the smell of the liquid, he must always drink, to understand the full measure of the marriage.

He asked, in a hopeful, yet somewhat troubled voice, what it meant if the cup tasted like tears, and if it would smell like salt. I said, yes, it would smell like salt, but not sea salt from the ocean.

I told him that taste would never be related to his own sadness, only that of his wife’s. It was then that he should hold her, and not speak. That was always best when he tasted the tears, and if she needed to, his wife would talk.

He then asked if there would be other unpleasant tastes and smells, and sadly, I told him yes, but that he would hopefully never experience certain tastes and smells.

I again reminded him that there would always be a scent, and regardless of the scent, he should drink the cup, for it was the measure of the marriage.

I then told him that there would be other smells.

There would be a hot, unpleasant scent, and the taste of the liquid would be a harsh burning sensation on his tongue and throat, and that meant there was strong anger in the marriage. This liquid would occur in the cup after a brief but serious fight he and his wife had had.

He, like almost all idealistic newly-weds, said he and his wife did not fight like that. I said perhaps they never would, but most couples did, at least a few times in their marriage.

I told him I did not know the exact remedy for ending the tension. Sometimes the heat of anger became the heat of passion. Sometimes it quickly faded, and just left the husband and wife exhausted, and they went to bed, not happy, but not angry.

And sometimes the anger was not resolved, and was turned to resentment, and the holding of grudges.

It was during this time that the liquid in the tiny cup would taste bitter. He would not want to drink from the cup then, but would still do so out of habit.

He should pay especially close attention to the marriage at this time. Marriages entering this stage were in danger, especial danger.

I told him he could call me during these times, as in any other time when he felt need, but that I would not always have advice nor answers for him, just as my father did not always have advice and answers for me. Sometimes a man has to figure out things for himself.

Could the marriage be saved during this time, he asked. I said it was still possible, but only if he truly wanted to save the marriage, and if his wife truly wanted to save it too.

They could go to marriage counseling, or spend some time apart, with relatives, or go on a spiritual retreat together. And their hearts would eventually turn toward each other again.

He would know this by the smell and flavor of the liquid in the cup.

I told him there were some, a few smells and tastes, I hope he would never experience.

It was one smell and taste that occurs if the love is truly gone, the marriage truly over, even if both the man and wife are still living, if not especially alive.

One was the sickly smell and taste of vinegar that had been out in the sun. The most vinegary and acidic taste. He would think he would not be able to swallow it, but he would have to.

The smell and taste would mean his heart had turned too many times against his wife. He had not heeded toe warnings he had received from the liquid and the cup, and had not changed his behavior. It is often the change in behavior that must come first, not the change of the heart. This is called sacrifice.

If he had not made the sacrifice, if he had not changed his behavior, too many times, the marriage would be over, and it would be his fault.

There might be a time, though I hope it never came, that the cup would taste especially bitter, and have a chalky and somehow metallic taste as well. It would mean his wife’s heart had forever turned against him, regardless of how strong his love had been for her, no matter how much he sacrificed, or how wise he acted, his wife’s heart could still turn.

The reason would remain a mystery to him. It is possible his wife had a cup too, and she had tasted the awful sour vinegar, and knew she had turned her heart away, and the love was over.

There was one other taste and smell he could experience.

It was a horrible smell of rot, not fermentation of wine, or the smoky, strong smell of bourbon, but the smell of gangrene. The smell of decay, of a limb that had been removed.

Even though this smell was overpowering, he would still drink the cup.

This smell would mean there was no love left in the marriage, it would have to end, and it was because both he, the husband, and his wife had turned their hearts against each other.

I had never smelled that odor, or tasted of the rot. Neither had my father, but one of my uncles had. He told his brothers about it, and told me about it after I was newly married.

My uncle said he had tasted the cup, swallowed what was in it, knew he and his wife had truly given up, and that the marriage was over.

There are many reasons a husband and wife might forever turn against each other. Sometimes it is simple hate and selfishness. There are other causes.

Sometimes, it is because of the death of a child, and the husband and wife blame each other, even if neither is at fault, and cannot get over this hate and blame.

Such was the case with my uncle. His youngest son had died at the age of 16, shortly after receiving his driver’s license, and was killed in an auto accident. The son did not survive, and neither did my uncle’s marriage.

The husband asked if one relationship ended, and another began, would he get a new cup? I told him yes, but only if the marriage had ended, and he had tasted the alkali flavor of bitter chalk dust and metal flakes.

The night after his wedding night, after he had married another woman, he would then get another cup.

But, if at the end of the marriage, he had tasted vinegar or gangrene, then he would not receive a new cup. It would not mean his next marriage was doomed, but it would mean he would be on his own, without the cup, and would have to pay even closer to the relationship, to his wife’s heart, and his own.

Lastly, I told him there was only one time when the cup would have no taste and no smell. Many men had never encountered this, though sadly, I have, I told him.

The only time there would be no taste and no smell in the cup would be if the wife had died before the husband, and she had been laid to rest.

Only then would there be no smell and no taste, but only water, and it would be the last time the husband would drink from the cup. After that, the cup and its container would disappear, and his right pocket would always be empty.

My wife had passed three years ago. I had swallowed the clear water, and my pocket was empty.

That was the story of the cup, I told him.

I told him to always remember it was the measure of the marriage, that he should give heed to the cup each time he drank from it, and preserve his marriage as best he could, so that he would not taste vinegar, or worse, the rot.

And, if he tasted the chalky, metallic bitter flavor, it would be a time for sadness, because, despite his best efforts, his wife would still be unreachable.

And lastly, I told him that if he ever drank the clear water, with no scent at all, it was nothing he could do. It was a time for mourning, but it was not his fault. Sometimes life ends, even if there was still love left.

That was all I could tell him about the cup.

I wished him well, and he hung up the phone.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Aimi permalink
    January 1, 2014 6:36 AM

    Reblogged this on Lost in The World Map.

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