I’m not going to lie to you. Today’s post makes me cry every time I read it. Morgan has been around APW a long time. She was the first person brave enough to write about getting married right after a parent’s death, and her joke with me is that she basically OWNS the hard stuff chapter of the APW Book. So it was important for her to come back and write this piece about how after surviving the unimaginable, she and her husband David have somehow fought their way through to happiness. Morgan was the inspiration for all the posts about what happens on the other side of the really really hard parts this week, and I’m so honored to share her story with you.
The year before the wedding was so hard that it only makes sense that everything since has felt so easy. My dad was diagnosed with—then died of—cancer, David was unemployed for eight months, my mother was challenging, my cousin died two weeks after the wedding, and my already stressful yet boring job became almost comically awful. (I’d tell you about it, but for that HR gag order…) How could all that has followed not have been easier?
The hard stuff got better. The grief over my dad has leveled to a dull ache with moments of raw grief. David switched to a similar job in his industry with a stable company for a substantial raise. My mother turned sixty, calmed down, lost thirty pounds and found new happiness. She is so much less negative now and it’s proof, I guess, that sometimes people do change and that I was right to distance myself from her but not to close my heart. She’s still who she is and critical, but she’s not mean anymore, and that’s more than I could have hoped for two years ago.
I left my terrible job for a lateral-on-paper move within the company that’s been excellent for me, and I have just been promoted from admin assistant to engineering technician. I left my twenties behind with a surprise birthday party planned by my husband and best friend that involved party hats and goody bags and I couldn’t be happier to be thirty.
When I think back over the last year and half, I’m flooded with so many happy memories. Eating decadent Pierre Hermes treats in a park in Paris, going to a hockey game in Prague, curling up on our fancy leather couch in the basement to watch movies, and handing David a pregnancy test with good news. There have been so many happy things—days, trips, and special moments.
In my mind, the last twenty-three months have been a breeze. But the real world is more complicated, of course. I had bleeding blisters on my feet from all the walking in Paris—at the very beginning of a three and a half week wander around Europe, so I ended up limping across the Continent. We hated Prague so much that whenever we have to do something we don’t want to do, one of us turns to the other and says, “At least we’re not in fucking Prague” and then we fist bump. The basement flooded in May and insurance in Canada doesn’t cover “seepage,” so we had to do a five figure renovation without warning. Because it was all out of pocket, we couldn’t really afford to pay anyone and did 90% of the work ourselves. All while I was in the middle of first trimester exhaustion. Even the baby news wasn’t wholly uncomplicated. I had an early miscarriage a few months before this pregnancy and so we spent the first trimester waiting for something to go wrong. I don’t think I fully believed that it was happening until we had the first ultrasound at 13 weeks and saw little Skipper flailing away (nicknamed after the Madagascar commando penguin). I’m still having trouble processing the fact that we’ve like, created human life and that in March, we’ll bring home a person.
Before the wedding, I kind of worried that I might regret not spending more to have a more typical reception. You know what? Not for one damned second. We knew that we could have an average priced wedding in our area, or a cheap wedding, a nice leather couch and three-plus weeks in Europe a few months later. The wedding, couch, and trip were/are all completely awesome.
We spend most of our disposable income on travel, and I’ve taken seven vacations since we got married, to eight countries, including nine American states. We’ve travelled together and separately with friends. Even with travel pretty much at the very top of our priority list and the use of most of our disposable income, I still feel lucky to have seen and done so much. The wedding, in some ways, allowed us to solidify our values and live our lives according to what we both want. Our money goes to savings and mortgage, travel, improving our house, hockey tickets, and food, in about that order. Would we have come to that, without a wedding? I’m sure we would have, but the conversations about weddings and marriage, before and after the wedding, helped us get there faster.
Being married has made me braver. I spent six years in a job that was increasingly bad for me, but I don’t know if I would have the courage to leave without David supporting me. He may not have left his old job for this one without me pushing him in return. We make each other better, braver, happier people and I’m so grateful on a daily basis that I get to be married to him.
There are challenges ahead, but I have faith that together we will make it work. One of the big ones is that because I’m Canadian, I get a year of parental leave, so while David will work full time and bring home a full time salary, I will keep a small person alive full time and collect employment insurance. (Thank you so-called “socialism!” I will happily pay taxes for these rights.) We’re going to have to figure out a new balance while learning to raise a baby. We’re going to have to do it on less money, with less travel, on far, far less sleep. But we’ll do it, and if there’s one thing that our years with each other have taught me, it’s that we’re an excellent team and can hopefully deal with whatever else life throws at us—together.
Photos from Morgan and David’s personal collection, all taken by David