After we lost Joshua, I dug into every online support group I could find. More often I found stories of not just heartbreaking loss, but broken marriages and relationships that just couldn’t get past the loss.
This terrified me.
We had barely celebrated our one year anniversary. We still felt like newlyweds and now this. This huge, gigantic, unfathomable test of our wedding vows was here staring us in the face. For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. It had only been eighteen months since we stood at the front of a church and promised that “whatever lies ahead, good or bad, we will face together.”
This most most certainly was going to be putting those vows to the test. I already knew that we were better together than apart, but this. This was going to be hard.
While still in the hospital I remember asking Patrick to crawl in bed next to me. I needed him close. I needed to feel his warmth. To hear his heartbeat. He held me as I cried and laid my head on his chest.
When we came home from the hospital I remember making him cinnamon rolls for breakfast. It seemed like such a simple thing, but I wanted to feel like his wife again. He needed to know that I still was there. Broken, but I was still there. We cuddled on the sofa as we ate breakfast and tried to figure out what this new normal was going to be.
This is how we have stayed.
Tightly intertwined. Leaning on each other for support. Both learning what the other needs most and being that in that moment.
We built memories together and in honor of our son.
We took the summer that we thought we would be spending with our newborn son and we went to baseball games. We went to see a play, a concert, and lots of movies. We spent a weekend at a bed and breakfast and did all the things we knew we wouldn’t be able to do with a tiny baby. We spent time focusing on our marriage. On healing. On us. We found ways to honor Joshua along the way. Writing his name in sparklers on the Fourth of July. Decorating a garden stone with his name. Finding butterflies and cardinals that reminded us that he was still there with us wherever we went.
It hasn’t always been easy.
There are times when I get frustrated that Patrick doesn’t grieve the same way that I do. That he doesn’t want to discuss “what if” for the 784th time. But then he patiently listens while I tell him that, and I am once again reminded why “us” is worth fighting for. He has been my strength on the days that I was certain I couldn’t survive. He has been my reason to take another breath on days I didn’t want to keep breathing.
We have grieved differently.
I like to talk it out for fear that I will forget details if I don’t keep speaking them. He likes to hold it in. Keep it close to his heart. He listens while I speak. I hold him tight when he needs silence. We have the learned the balance, the give and take. It’s a delicate dance that we are still learning four and a half years and one rainbow later.
We are infinitely better together.
He is my calm when my anxiety gets too high. I am the voice of reason when he gets angry that life isn’t playing fair. He makes me laugh even on the darkest of days and for that I am beyond grateful, and I believe in him, his strength, and ambition more than anyone on earth. We are a team, and together we are far better than we could ever be apart, and for that I know am very, very lucky.
Victoria is a wife and mom of two amazing children – Joshua in Heaven and Madeline, their rainbow that they get the joy of watching grow-up here on earth. Victoria blogs about raising a rainbow, anxiety, and life at www.lifewithmadeline.com.