I have been married for almost 30 years. If there is such a thing as a soul mate I found mine, although he is far from perfect. Our marriage has been filled with all that a marriage should be – joy, anger, passion, frustration, tedium and celebration. It has also confronted that which a marriage should never see – child loss. We have both survived, possibly due to the fact that our marriage has survived. In fact, in some ways it is even stronger.
I have a 28 year old son. He is everything a mother could hope for in a son – smart, kind, compassionate, independent, and generous – with a little bit of sloppy and lazy added just to ensure I never forget that he is human. He has survived that which a son should never see – the loss of his sister. Yet, he survives, and is now seemingly even more kind, generous and compassionate.
I love my husband as much as I imagine any woman could love a man. After my children were born I added the love of each child to the love I held for my husband. There were no boundaries on how much love I could hold in my heart.
When, 23 years after my second child was born she died, unexpectedly, incomprehensibly, I was broken wide open. I was overtaken by a single-minded determination to not let the love I had for her go, driven by what I have come to understand is but one of many unfounded fears, the fear that somehow that love will leave with her. Irrational? Yes, but there is nothing rational about profound grief.
As time has passed I have come to learn that my love for her will never leave, in fact it only grows stronger. I have also learned that when those blind fears permeate our shattered heart we lose sight of something so fundamental that we can jeopardize all that we have worked for – that is the love for those who are still here. My son. My husband. There is space in my heart for all of them. There are still no boundaries. But it is up to me to hold that space, to cherish it and to nurture it, because when grief breaks it open and tries to fill every crevice, we have to make sure to hold a sacred space for each of them. We must hold space not just for the one we lost, but also the ones that are still here, walking this journey by our sides, for it is because of them, and with them, that we can take each next step.