First of all, thank you so, so much for the overwhelming outpouring of kindness and condolences. I cannot tell you what it meant to A.P. and I that even people we've never met were wishing us well and could understand what we were experiencing. It was so very heartwarming at a time when we were completely heartbroken. I'd also like to thank you for being understanding about my need to take a blogging break. It was much needed as we got over the shock of losing our sweet, sweet, little dog. That being said, I'd like to talk today about an issue that affects all marriages at one time or another: loss.
When A.P. and I got married, I gave a toast to our guests during the reception. I explained to people that we had endured so much during our short engagement: family members in the hospital, job loss, and worst of all, the death of A.P.'s mother. I explained to our family and close friends that some might see these things as signs that things were not meant to be, but we chose to see them as proof that not only could we endure such terrible things, but that we could endure them together. I never lied; I never said that it was easy, or that we didn't cry, fight, yell, and scream. I didn't say we had endured these tragedies well, but rather that we had simply endured.
Losing our dog last week, who we have had as a pet for four and a half of our five years together, is yet another loss we have dealt with together. Just like any great death or tragedy, losing Radar was not easy. Our home feels impossibly empty despite two other pets filling it. We are constantly trying to find him, looking for him in our bed, on our couch, and worst of all, waiting by the door every time we come home. It's a terrible feeling and a grief I've never felt before. I've lost pets and family members before, but never a pet like a dog. He was such a part of every facet of our life in ways that parents, grandparents, and other family members just aren't. And anyone who has experienced the loss of a family pet knows that losing pets is different than losing humans. You take in an animal knowing that you will inevitably outlive it. And unlike humans, animals never question your love or affection. They hang on your every move and love you unconditionally, in the truest sense of the word.
This loss, though, we dealt with differently. This loss was met by strength on our parts. Because we've coped with death before, we know what we need in times like this. We know to check in with each other and ask if we are okay. We also know that we need time together and lots of it, which is exactly what we've been doing. If a marriage is two lives being stitched together, then the incredible tragedies and difficulties that we've had to experience throughout our relationship are the things tightly bind us to each other, making, as much as possible, the fabric our lives together unbreakable.
I said to A.P. the other day that I feel bad for my friends or people in general, who have never had to deal with a single, bad thing in their relationship. It's misleading. Life is filled with sad events that are out of our control and hit us like a ton of bricks. Having been through those things early on and before marriage was key in preparing us for how to help each other through these things now. We know how to talk to one another and carry each other when the other is too weak to walk (that's a metaphor, people, we're not handicapped...yet). That's not to say that those people won't survive at all. I just think it's harder when you've had no problems for so long to know how to deal with the big stuff. I certainly don't wish we had to experience these awful things, nor do I wish that they happen all the time, but having been through these things before has brought us closer and made us learn more about each other in ways we couldn't have foreseen three years ago. They have made us love each other more and in a deeper way that I can't fully describe.
A.P. was devastated by Radar's death, but he told me two things several times, 1. that he was glad it wasn't me, and 2. that he was glad he was married to me to help him through it. These are things I am grateful for as well. And I know that with time, these wounds won't heal completely, but they will hurt less. I'm so happy to help A.P. hurt less each and every day and I'm so happy he does the same for me.
Have you dealt with loss or tragedy in your relationship? How has it brought you closer?