Just a thought… Alone we can accomplish many great things. Together we can change the world. [Estafania Gualalupe Estrada]
This weekend – Saturday as a matter of fact – Rob and I will mark an anniversary quietly and at home. It’s our 33rd wedding anniversary and apparently the gift is amethyst. I don’t need any gems – I married one.
On our anniversary, we recite our wedding vows. We memorized them from a booklet offered to us by the couple who married us, a Baptist minister and his Mennonite minister wife, and we have somehow managed, I guess by repeating them, to remember those words all of these years later.
But one line comes up most often in our days together: “I encourage your own fulfillment as an individual through all the changes in our lives.”
That’s been a big thread – besides the humour, which was evident when we laughed through our vows – that has held this marriage together.
When it became apparent that my career was rising higher and faster than Rob’s, he made a big step to move away from producing morning radio, and raise our daughter while I was at work. At the time, Mr. Mom was still a popular cultural movie touchstone and he heard that title a lot. He also was chided, to his face and behind his back, by people who thought that, as the husband, he would WANT to be working outside the home. As though there could be any job – even one that paid less than could cover child care – that could be better than parenting.
He turned out to be a wonderful dad and he’s an amazing grandfather. Just as I knew he would be. We’re still pinching ourselves that our daughter gave us such a beautiful, wonderful, wise and funny child, and that he’s in our lives now on such a regular basis. Out of the ashes, you could say, has grown an immense reason for joy once again.
After I left radio in 2016, I was approached to write the book I did, Mourning Has Broken: Love, Loss and Reclaiming Joy for HarperCollins, a book about my grief in the public eye, which of course was the result of the death of our own child the previous year. This was one of the few times in our marriage that Rob and I differed on how to respond: he wasn’t sure it would be healthy for me to delve into those darkest days, while I saw it as not only about Lauren’s death, but about all of our lives, and the path through this devastating loss we had suffered.
Despite his misgivings, Rob supported me as I wrote the book – helping to fill in details, to navigate legalities and to offer editing and writing ideas on the days I drew blanks. He also led me off to bed when a day of pouring out my heart into my laptop was followed by an evening of pouring out wine into a glass. He’s been through a lot. We have – together.
Today, as we are just over one month away from Lauren’s 30th birthday, he continues to grieve quietly in a way that is different from the way that I do. I see purpose in it all and it drives me forward. On the rare days when I wonder what I’m doing any of this for, I remember that I wrote a book about reclaiming joy, so I’d better get busy reclaiming it again, dammit. It fuels me in methods that I don’t even understand. And of course, then there’s her son – his sister and family – and the ways that Lauren continues to give us life.
I cannot imagine our 33 years without our daughter, even though the pain of losing of her was enough to break up our marriage (as losing a child often does for couples) or even mean the end of our lives – together, or alone. But here we are…and it’s been amazing.
Thank you, Robbie. Happy Anniversary. Thanks for taking such good and patient care of me when I’ve been hopping along and even after I fell down four stairs last night (sober!) on my way to shoot my video journal. My legs are now a matching pair of colourful bruises – from black and blue to purple and green, I’m looking like a human Mood Ring these days. It’s been one heck of a month but you’ve been there every step of the way. Even the ones I’ve missed.
Have a gentle weekend and I’ll be back with another vlog on Monday – if I don’t stumble into a wood chipper or something.