January means making resolutions and new beginnings. For me, my new beginning is an old beginning. This year my husband of 19 years and I will be renewing our vows and celebrating our 20th anniversary. While we are celebrating and cementing our love, we will also be celebrating surviving hell and coming out of it stronger and more in love than ever.
My husband and I married young. At 22 I thought I knew so much, and that I had to rush into my life instead of enjoying being young. In retrospect, we were too young. He was too self-absorbed and, well, selfish, and I was too needy and in too much of a rush. It did not work out. We had our son Gabriel and separated when he was just six months old. For five years I was a single parent. For five years my husband and I were better to each other and kinder to each other than we ever were in marriage. In other words, we grew up.
Many children dream of their parents getting back together, and Gabriel was one of them. I did not know it at the time, but he would wish on stars and birthday candles, wishing to make Mommy and Daddy love each other again. Maybe there is some real magic, because we did fall in love again. After I was in a scary car accident with five-year-old Gabriel, my ex was so good to us, so supportive, that I began to see him in another light. I began to fall in love with him again, this time as a grown-up, independent woman.
In the years in between we had a beautiful daughter, making Gabe a big brother. No one could love a baby sister the way that he loved Grace. Three years later we had our twins, a boy and a girl. It was such a crazy time. In those years we would sometimes revert back to the people we were when we were first married. There were times that it looked like we weren't going to make it, but we did. Then, when Riley and Rowan were only five months old, the unthinkable happened.
On December 21, 2004 I was taking the two big kids out to a movie and to do some Christmas shopping. We live in the country and were driving the backroads. A deer ran out onto the road. I braked the car, but unknown to me, there was black ice. Our van spun. When the van had stopped spinning, a truck driving too fast T-boned us, destroying life as we knew it.
That accident threw us into the depths of hell. My nine-year-old Gabriel sustained serious head injuries and a burst spleen. He died of a stroke because the ambulance got lost and his spleen threw out blood clots. My nine-year-old son died because he did not receive the medical attention that would have saved his life. I also nearly died in the accident and Grace broke her leg. At the time it seemed like a broken leg was wonderful, but she has had to endure six surgeries to repair the damage caused by that break.
Through the heartache and pain, Christopher and I grew. I have heard it said that the death of a child often leads to divorce, and I believe it. For us, however, it brought us closer -- we only had each other. When one of us was in need, the other was supportive. We fell more deeply in love. Once again, Gabriel's love brought us closer.
Three years after Gabriel died we had our beautiful little angel, Elisha. That baby completed us and made us whole in a way that we had not been since Gabe's death. We revelled in our blessings. We had lost our son, and would never heal from that, but in that loss we had found each other.
To celebrate our 20th anniversary we decided that we would like to renew our vows. It seemed fitting to reconfirm our love in front of our family and friends. Ours is not a fairy tale, but it is a love story. It is not a sappy love story where boy meets girl and they fall in love and live happily ever after. In our story, boy meets girl and they have to fight to make it -- they have to lose everything to find each other and appreciate each other. I think that our love story does end with a "and they lived happily ever after." Our love story keeps adding chapters, and each of those later chapters speaks of blessings and speaks of an undying love.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.