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The Important Role My Husband Plays as My Grief Partner

November 8th was my bonus son’s 12th birthday. It was also the day my beloved mom died.

Is was not the date chiseled on her grave stone, but my husband knows it is the day I lost my incomparable mom’s beautiful spirit. After a grueling 11 year battle with ovarian cancer, she went into septic shock and my brother and I had no choice but to pull the plug. I had to end the life of my closest confidant and fiercest protector — my source of unconditional love and unfiltered light — and it was a gut-wrenching heartbreak I have never recovered from.

It was the endless paperwork and impromptu grief counseling through a river of tears that elongated her life past midnight on that soul crushing day right before the holidays, her favorite time of the year.

If you looked around my house that day, birthday decorations were everywhere; it was festive, colorful and bright in honor of our pre-teen who is really coming into his own. My husband was up most of the night making sure it looked perfect for him, and he is most deserving of a memorable celebration.

A day that gives my husband such joy — his cherished son’s birthday — is tempered with sadness for me, and he always acknowledges it with an abundance of love and compassion. I woke up that morning to an incredibly thoughtful card and pale pink roses in my exquisite mom’s memory, and thought about how lucky I am to have him.

Mike responded to an article I wrote (Top 10 Rules for Dating a Single or Divorced Mom )in 2015. It was a highly sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek referendum on men; I pretty much teared them a collective new ass. I was suffering from post-divorce dating fatigue and I had just had it.

As a single dad, he read through my defensiveness and understood exactly where I was coming from. We weren’t even connected through six degrees of separation, but he managed to make me feel heard, validated and appreciated in that fateful first email…and he’s still doing it today.

It was unreal when we discovered his son’s birthday is my mom’s death anniversary. It was serendipitous when we found out he shares my mom’s birthday. It was downright unbelievable when we made the connection that his grandmother died on my son’s birthday. All of these dates woven together, the happy paired with the sad, to help each other through.

My husband believes my mom handpicked him for me, and I do too. It took me a long time to be loved like this; I met him when I was 42 and I took a terrifyingly dark, unpaved third world country type of road to happiness (chock full of I-need-a-barf-bag-to-deal-with-twist-and-turn moments). But, now, he’s here to lend a hand when I am knocked down by intense waves of grief, to make me laugh through tears, to listen when I need to share stories from my past.

And, while we are not perfect (we fight and have passive-aggressive eye-roll duels at times), like most other couples the love we share is, at its core, perfect. It’s a love my mom would approve of if she was still here, one I hope she sees from above.

Image Credits: Jodi Meltzer Darter

Photo submitted by contributor.