There are moments in our lives where we come to obstacles and we wonder - maybe aloud, maybe to our partners, or maybe just in our own thoughts - if we are going to be able to overcome it. I can think of a handful of times when I've wondered how other people do it. One of those times was when Cole passed away. I've spoken pretty honestly about how it changed my marriage. I know a lot of people in the blog/babyloss world talk about how the experience strengthened their marriage, made them realize how quickly life can pass. That was not my reality, our reality - at least at first. We struggled. We dealt with grief oh-so-differently. I wanted to talk about Cole. I was aghast that Mr. Howard didn't even tell some of his district supervisors that we had lost him. When he'd tell me he met someone new, I would grill him. Did they ask you how many kids you have? Did you count Connor AND Cole? I'm not proud of how I turned my anger towards a husband who grieved differently than me, but it was our truth.
In those early days and months, I wondered all too often how we would overcome that obstacle.
I can say with the utmost sincerity that that is not the case now. I understand my husband's grief. More than that, I accept it. I accept that we all grieve differently. And in accepting that about my husband, I gave myself permission to grieve the way I wanted and I gave myself permission to acknowledge that while he didn't show his love for Cole the way I did, it didn't mean he didn't love him. In fact, I know that love cannot be measured by whether or not you tell a stranger something.
Of course, losing Cole was a big one. A big test. But there have been smaller tests. Tests of patience. Humility. Faith. Jobs. Balance. Anyone who has been with someone for any amount of time knows that these tests can be as simple as calming your nagging spirit or as damning as a fight that went from pebbles to mountains in a mere minutes.
So, for a while I've been trying to write this post. I've been trying to figure out how to articulate love. How do I convey something so deep, so personal, and so all encompassing without trespassing into the trenches of my heart, baring secrets I can't take back? I haven't quite figured it out. I'm not sure that I will ever truly be able to convey it and all the comparisons and analogies I come up with seem corny.
So, I'm just going to start by saying that while we do sometimes fight, we also love. Hard. There is no other man on earth I love more than my husband. We have been together 13 years and I still can't stop holding his hand. I still get excited when he puts his hand on the small of my back when we're out in public. I still wake up in the middle of the night, realizing I'm not touching him, and reach out for his arm - hand - back. I still fall asleep in his arms 6 nights out of 7 and wake up on days when we're going on a date as excited as a school girl. I know not everyone believes in soul mates, but I do. I believe that God created Mr. Howard for me and I for him.
Today marks six years from when we stood in front of our family, friends, and pastor and vowed to love each other. Since that day we have certainly done so in richer and poorer times, good times and bad, and in sickness and in health.
And four kids, lots of love, fights, pain, joy, grief, parties, new friendships, ending of friendships, vacations, hundreds of parenting mistakes, dances, giggles, coffee dates, tears, work triumphs, work disasters, moves, dinners, lunches, and breakfasts later...I know that we will continue to do so. I know this, because we both choose to do so.
On our wedding day in 2007 we both wrote our own vows and read them to each other. Despite nerves and trembling hands, we both read them to each other because it meant something to us to string together a set of words that no other couple in the universe had ever said to each other. Almost as if we had planned it (although we both know who planned it), we both ended our vows exactly the same way. Meant to be, right?
In honor of that day, I'll end it with those words. My love, I love you times infinity to the infinite power.