Nine Octobers ago, Drew and I got engaged. He got on one knee at the farm near my parents' house. He was on crutches at the time and I definitely thought he was falling down on his face. We were just babies -- 21 years old.
We grew up together, Drew and I. We became our true adult selves in each others' impossibly close proximity and it was really funny sometimes and really confusing sometimes and hell on earth a lot of the time.
Eight Octobers ago, we were driving home from Big Guy and Brian's wedding and I sighed deeply and said out loud and to the foliage and to no one in particular, "enough. That's enough now." And I put away my rage and betrayal and decided to fight for my marriage.
Six Octobers ago, I threw back a gulp of tequila in the parking lot of my new therapist's office and walked up the stairs and into the most healing season of my life and relationship.
Three Octobers ago we were signing the papers for our first house. I was eight months pregnant and waddled around, unpacking and decorating and thanking God that we grew through five years of marriage and made a baby.
A year ago, we were at our first midwife appointment for our second daughter, Finley. We had been in Nashville a few months and she seemed like the perfect symbol of our new adventures as a family.
We lost Finley in December. Drew lost his job in January. It's been a sad and harrowing year, mourning and seeking and remembering and healing.
October has always been a month of new beginnings for me. Which is bizarre, since I come from New England, where the riotous foliage is a last-ditch explosion of color before the long and stark winters.
This October we find ourselves on vacation in Florida. The trip was originally planned a month earlier - celebrating our September anniversary and my 30th birthday in August and a baby moon for our rainbow baby, due in December.
But it feels more fitting to be here now. During October, my month of renewal.
The ocean is my happy place - my healing place. I think about that as I lounge here with my teammate and feel the sun warm my giant belly -- once again 8 months pregnant in October. Our third daughter. I look over at my Drew - this guy I've fought with and for, who has grown up before my eyes into the most steadfast and hopeful man, who has held me tight and held me up, who - in the cacophony of grief and unemployment and uncertainty, found a stillness and a peace within the heart of God that I still don't quite understand. He believed in the promises of Goodness and Mercy, he listened to his Maker and he started his own business, trusting me to be his partner.
His partner. That word has so many connotations now, with all of the dark and light we have navigated as a team. I look over at that partner of mine and I can't help but well up with thankfulness and awe.
I feel that thrum of new beginnings. That light at the end of a long tunnel we have been begging for and believing in for months. We are far from healed or whole but I have weathered a brutiful season with this guy and I cannot help but feel it is finally coming to an end.
Our third day here, Drew and I stood on the sand, looking out over the waves together. He held my hand and prayed one of those sweet and soaking prayers that marks a life ceremony. For so long now, we've been subsisting on His promises, inching our way through the darkness. Drew's better at that sort of thing - the whole hope and optimism bit.
So he did the praying and I did the crying and we thanked and praised and wondered and trusted and wondered again. And I felt my heart swell and settle into the verse we have felt breeze into us recently, again and again:
He brought me out into a spacious place. He rescued me because He delighted in me. (Psalm 18:19)
I've read that money trouble and child loss are the leading causes for divorce. It is not lost on me how faithfully and fully we were carried through this season. How lavish the simple space to breathe truly is.
They said "the first year is the hardest." They said "grief is like backwards labor, the pains get weaker and further apart." They said we'd walk through this valley.
And they say that salt water heals all things - a good cry or ocean water should set you right in the end. This week I have had more than my fair share of both.
And I'm just so grateful.
The world will give you that once in awhile, a brief timeout; the boxing bell rings and you go to your corner, where somebody dabs mercy on your beat-up life. - Sue Monk Kidd
To Sally and Neil and Kim, who so graciously hosted us in that healing place by the sea. To my in-laws, who held down the fort and loved on our rascal while we were away. To Stephanie and the team at CS, who allowed us a season of rest in the midst of businesses that never quit. I know a lot of words and yet none of them are thank you enough.
I think it's important to set up ebenezers. Piles of stones to revisit when we need reminders of God's faithfulness to us.
This is mine.