Donald and Peg Knippel, in October 1956, when they first met.
Till Death Do Us Part
By Donald Knippel
I don't remember when I was first introduced to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I only know that it was some time before my wife's death in February 2012.
We were married 53 years. We met when we were in high school in Wisconsin.
Until 19 months before she died, Peg was a perfectly healthy and active person. Then, one day in 2010 she was in such agony that we called 911. They gave her morphine, and later at the hospital they gave her more morphine, but the pain persisted. The doctor noticed a mass in her lungs and thought it might be lung cancer. After an overnight stay, she was transported to a different hospital where they confirmed it was stage-4 small cell lung cancer, which is fatal. She was given six months to live.
I went to the nearest church to pray the chaplet for her.
After her first round of chemotherapy, the pain went away, and they gave her about a year to live. All the while I prayed the chaplet each day for her at 3 p.m., the Hour of Great Mercy when the Lord died on the Cross. I would pray to our Blessed Mother, too. My prayer intentions were that Peg be cured, if it was God's will. But I had three other intentions. I prayed that she would have no pain; that she would have no fear of dying; and that Mary would be there to greet her when she died.
Peg lived for 19 months, pain free. Just before her death, she said she was ready to die. She didn't fear death. But what she did tell the hospice staff was that she felt sorrow that she was leaving me alone.
When she was no longer physically able to attend Mass, our pastor would come over twice a week to give us both the Eucharist. She also received the Anointing of the Sick two times. These things meant a lot to her.
On Feb. 20, at 4 a.m., I woke up to the sound of her breathing. She had the "death rattle." She soon went to her Creator, peacefully. I was praying the chaplet as she died.
So the Lord answered my prayers: She died peacefully, without pain and without fear. As much as my faith allows, I believe our Blessed Mother was there to bring her home.
Years ago it was Peg who brought me close to the Catholic faith. Ironically, when we met, she was a Methodist and was told by her mother and pastor not to date me. On her own, she became a Catholic before we married. Not all marriages are easy, and at times, ours wasn't either. She put up with my depression for 18 years, and at one point she wanted a divorce. During a separation, we agreed to be faithful to each other and to continue to go to Mass together. God healed our marriage.
She insisted we attend Mass every Sunday. It was a "deal" we made. Now that Peg is gone, I see more so than ever all the wonderful things she did. I miss her dearly.
A few months after her death, a friend gave me the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska because she knew I pray the chaplet every day at 3 p.m. It took me a year to read it. The Diary has been life changing for me. It really speaks to my heart. I read it a second time over the next year — slowly, two pages at a time, meditating on each passage — and then gave it to a friend this year during the novena before Divine Mercy Sunday. My friend was going through family troubles.
I pray that the words of our Merciful Lord to St. Faustina help bring healing to him and his family. I know now more than ever that only through Christ can we find true peace. But we have to pray, and we have to trust.
Donald Knippel lives in Vancouver, Washington, and Kingman, Arizona.