From the moment we lost Nash, people were discussing our increased risk for divorce. I’m not kidding, people were even talking about it at the hospital the day he died. Even the funeral home director discussed this with us when we were planning the funeral. Other parents who had lost children reached out to me soon after Nash died; some still do to this day. They tell me not to feel bad if my marriage fails because it’s almost inevitable. Now I’m not claiming to be a marriage expert…after all, we have only been married for four years. In this short time though I have learned a lot, and Nash’s passing has taught me even more. What I have learned is that marriage is hard, it takes work and you get out what you put in.
Immediately after Nash passed, we were on the same page about almost everything. We both had this need to make it as easy on the other as we possibly could. We couldn’t protect our baby anymore, but we could protect each other. I had no idea why everyone had warned us about possibly separating. If anything, we felt closer to each other. We poured ourselves into being there for one another. However, now that some time has passed, I can see why some people have problems. Everyone knows that men are different creatures than women. They think differently, they love differently, so it’s only natural that they would grieve differently. I have the need to talk about Nash, his passing, his life, my feelings about it. The problem is I usually only want to talk to Todd. To me he is the only one who understands exactly what I’m going through. I need confirmation that what I’m going through is normal. That my thoughts on it are normal. To me, Todd is the only one who can answer these questions. Todd, on the other hand, likes to grieve silently and usually alone. He is open to talking about it, but you have to catch him in the right mood. By talking about it I mean he will listen and add comments here and there. He does not want to talk about his thoughts or feelings. If he is sad, he usually wants to be by himself.
For example, one day I had talked to a detective, not involved with Nash’s case. He gave me a lot of information that made feel better about the way these investigations go and how long it takes to get answers. I called Todd immediately to tell him about it. He answered “yeah” a couple times to what I was saying and “oh” a couple of other times. I finally said, “Do you not want to talk about this?” He said, “No, not really, I’ve had a hard day.” I completely understood that. I have those days too. I did, however, want to know what brought on his bad day. I wanted to know if it was similar to what brings them on for me. When I asked, he was defensive. He said, “You of all people shouldn’t need an explanation, that sometimes you just have a bad day.” Obviously I did know this, but sometimes something in particular brings it on for me and that’s what I wanted to know. Then we started fighting. I was mad that he thought I should just know, and he was mad that I wouldn’t let it go. This is a common problem in anyone’s marriage I think. Women usually want to talk about it and men don’t. What makes our marriage work is our ability to bend for each other. When I got home, I sat down and talked to him about it. I said that I felt very much alone. That I was cringing even asking him on the phone why it was a bad day. I never ask, and I knew I was walking on shaky ground by doing so. All I needed was a simple “I’ll explain later” or “someone brought him up a lot today.” Not an angry “you should just know!” He then said “I want to be able to tell you I’m having a bad day and don’t want to talk about it, then I want it dropped.” We then agreed to compromise the best that we could.
This is what makes us work. We listen to each other. We realize that we need different things at different times. That sometimes even though I want to talk, if he doesn’t I have to respect that and let it go. Just like he knows that if he doesn’t want to talk and I really need to, he is going to have to do just that. It’s called respect and we have that for each other. I can see how a marriage going through something similar could have a much different outcome if you don’t talk about it, or if you have a spouse that won’t bend. It’s also very hard to be sad all the time and be around someone who is equally as sad as you are. Todd is a constant reminder that we have a son together and that we lost him. When I’m having a good day he may be having a bad day and vice versa. Once we were in the truck driving home. I was in a surprisingly good mood. I heard Nash’s laugh, looked over and saw Todd in the passenger seat looking through all of Nash’s videos. My heart sank and my good mood changed immediately to sadness and guilt that I had been in a good mood to begin with. I do this same thing to Todd. He will be watching TV and everything will be seemingly fine. I’ll go upstairs, sit in Nash’s nursery and cry. Usually after some time goes by, Todd will come upstairs to check on me. He will see that I’m crying and just hold me and let me cry.
We do this to each other often. It is tough, to say the least, to be grieving together. My cousin Kip died last year and Todd was there for me. He was the strong one. That’s how it’s suppose to be. One stays strong while the other is hurting. After losing Nash there is no strong one. We are both hurting. It’s hard to be there for someone else when you are hurting so badly yourself. I can see how some people may find it easier to just leave. Be with someone who is happy, someone who can be there for you 100%. Who is not a constant reminder of what could have been. For me though, it’s foolish to think it would be easier to be with someone else. Every relationship has problems. My next one would be no different. You learn a lot from past relationships. You learn what you would do differently and what you need that you were not getting from the other person. I’ve dated people who didn’t have my back. Who turned away when things got hard instead working through it together. Who didn’t trust the relationship enough to throw everything into it.
One of the many reasons I married Todd is because he is willing to do all that and more. He is loyal, he defends me, he is selfless and he is very present at all times. I know he absolutely has my back but has no problem telling me when he thinks I’m in the wrong. He makes me a better person. That’s important! To not feel judged, to know someone is always in your corner. Todd and I choose to do the work. To fight for our marriage. To fight for each other. I also feel this overwhelming obligation to Nash. We are his parents. Do I want him to be the reason we fell apart!?!?! No, I don’t. Even though he is no longer here, I owe it to him to work through this with his daddy, and I will do that for him and because of my love for Todd. We have a bumpy road ahead of us. We have a lot of work to do. What I have learned about marriage is very simple. Can you look at the person next to you and say they are worth the fight? That no matter how hard it gets, this is the person you want sitting next to you through it all? The good, the bad, and the heartbreaking events that could and will most likely happen at some point in your marriage? I look at Todd and I know he is the one I want next to me. So for those of you worried about us, don’t be, we are going to be just fine. We are just learning to bridge the difference, and we will, because we choose to do the work.