The above photo was taken in our backyard on January 15, 2003, just weeks before our lives changed forever.
Today I was watching "The Oprah™" something I rarely do and landed on an interview with Dana Reeve, wife of Christopher Reeve.
They began to talk about the days after the accident and the effect it had on their marriage, and their mental state Christopher's in particular. Dana shared that Christopher rarely had dark moments of depression regarding his paralysis, but that they both felt it was important for him to feel and express the worst of it when the wave would wash over him. She said the rare times he would hit rock bottom, he would use it as a springboard to carry himself back to the top again where he almost-always remained.
On a much smaller scale, this reminded me of when we lost our twins two years ago this week. Up until that point in my life, I had never known pain and loss such as that. The world as I knew it had been yanked out from under me without warning, and I was reeling in ways I had no idea how to deal with, much less recover from.
I remember at the time my mother desperately wanted me to consider going on some sort of anti-depressant medication* to "get me through". But I resisted. I wanted to hurt. I wanted to feel (regardless of who understood and who didn't). I didn't want to mask the pain with a chemical. I didn't feel I'd ever truly "get it" if I did. Deep in my heart I knew what I was going through wasn't a permanent depression it was a loss that I needed to grieve through and take 100% of what it threw at me to make it real.
Dana Reeve also described how she and Christopher wouldn't isolate themselves from one another. They would share what they were going through, good and bad, with each other. Being able to understand the other's pain and joy made them stronger.
And that's exactly how it worked in our own marriage. We didn't shut off at the time. In fact, we desperately clung to one another. For the first couple of days following the news, Todd took off work and we just stayed in bed talking and crying. There were other people and things we shut out in order to cope but never each other. Our marriage and friendship cemented through the pain.
Eventually we were ready to use that pit of despair as our own springboard to rejoin the land of the living. We planned our first vacation in over four years, and took a romantic week in Savannah and Hilton Head. We came back refreshed, renewed and dare I say happier than we had ever been. Shortly thereafter, we ended up pregnant with our first son. I don't believe that's a coincidence. And after saying I would "never celebrate the [Valentine's] holiday again" just 365 days earlier, the very next year I was holding my newborn baby boy in my arms, thanking God for the miracle he'd given us. Because He kept believing in me, even though there were times I didn't know if I could ever believe or forgive Him. And then this year, on Valentine's Day, I was able to listen to my second son's heartbeat strong and clear at my OB's office.
Who would have dreamed two years ago when we lost the two children they said we'd never have, that now we'd be preparing our home to welcome our second in as many years? Although we'll always remember the twins and grieved for what might have been, what happened brought us to the place we are today. Something we couldn't see through the tears on February 14, 2003. And I can't imagine life without my two baby boys, as one sleeps peacefully and the other gently kicks me inside. I wouldn't trade what we have now for anything. And if I hadn't felt the deep pain I experienced then, I wouldn't be able to truly celebrate and appreciate the blessings and life I have now.
To a dear friend who also welcomed her own little miracle into the world this Valentine's, we send our heartfelt congrats and best wishes to the new family of three. There's just nothing sweeter in life... CONGRATULATIONS!
* This entry in no way implies that anti-depressant medications aren't necessary and useful / helpful to treat certain medical and mental health conditions. This entry is simply a "in my case only" kinda deal... Your mileage may vary.