Clare Saumell VanderWeele

word wrangler.

Till Death Do Us Part… Again

There are some things it’s almost impossible to write about. These are things I can only live. Things that no number of photos or blog posts can do justice.

Virginia Woolf writes, “One can’t write directly about the soul. Looked at, it vanishes.

What is true of the soul is true of other things. One of which is this: This weekend would have been my 6th wedding anniversary with Chris. Instead, it is a marker of having spent as much time as a widow as I did as a wife. The first three years flew by; these second three years have seemed an eternity.

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One of my son’s favorite books is We’re Going on a Bear Hunt. It reads: “Oh-oh! A forest! A big, dark forest. We can’t go over it. We can’t go under it. Oh, no! We’ve got to go through it!” And the same is true for the riptide current of sorrow. I couldn’t avoid it, go over or under it. I’ve spent the last three years slogging through it. “Stumble, trip. Stumble, trip. Stumble, trip.” Through, through, through.

And somewhere along the thousand steps through sorrow, I met someone. I lingered in the depths of winter depression, burdened by grief and hopelessness and despair. I lived in yoga pants and oversized sweatshirts, no makeup and messy ponytails.

To this day, I can’t fathom why the man I met then waited for me to gracelessly stumble my way through to the other side. To the side where I found happiness and God and peace. To the side where I was shocked to realize that loving someone new did not mean no longer missing Chris. It’s the final understanding – and acceptance – that forgetting is impossible, but not continuing to live and love is equally unfathomable.

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And so, two months from now, I will be walking down the aisle for the second time. Two weddings. Two dresses. Two vows of “till death do us part.”

An occasion so strikingly familiar, and yet so vastly different. I wasn’t looking for Mike. He is everything I never expected. When death crashes over you, you don’t ever think you could love again. But I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Chris – his life and his death – shaped me into who I am today, and that person is more capable of loving than I ever dared to imagine. Mike is in my life because I came face to face with raw fear and vulnerability and decided to open up my life and my little family to someone new. Because I realized that to love and be loved is always worth the fear of loss and grief.

It is simultaneously terrifying and amazing. I am scared and I am brought to my knees with gratitude. I overflow.

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And so Mike and I make new adventures. We laugh and encourage and pray and dream. Our family looks very different from what either of us could have ever imagined, but its beauty is breathtaking.

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7 Comments

  1. Not only am I overwhelmed with warmth and love because of what you share from deep within about your love of Chris, you, and Nicholas, but I am captured by your future which is a different color and shape altogether.

    If I had never met you at the memorial of my mother, or visited you in Illinois over lactose-free chocolate ice cream, (“Aunt Donna, So-Delicious is a brand name, not necessarily what it tastes like!”), I would still be drawn to your writings and your photos and your images and emotions because I simply love good writing. Even if you had not helped me mourn Chris, and you AND Chris, and, you and Chris AND Nicholas, I could not help but love you and your new life as you share with us.

    I am not a blog person. I don’t even know what blog means. But I’m a person of poetry and horses and dogs and swimming pools and Winnie the Pooh and CS Lewis. You enchant us with all of those and more as you share from the depths of real pain and real joy. You enchant. And you keep alive things I never knew. I do hope you and Mike and Nicholas will visit us in CA. And I do hope you keep writing. I love you, Clare.

    • Clare

      October 5, 2016 at 9:29 pm

      Aunt Donna, you bring tears to my eyes with your comments. I’m so grateful to know you, even though we are miles apart. Your words are so kind and encouraging, thank you so much.

      • Oh, I love you, my Girl! Do keep in touch. You bring much to life, and don’t we all need some of that?! Hugs from here to there…!!! Looking forward to more…

  2. I feel fortunate to know you as you go through this journey. Congratulations to you for not only being a fantastic mom, but for powering through this event in your life and finding happiness once again.

  3. I am so very happy for you! I don’t even remember how I first stumbled upon your blog, but you write so beautifully from the soul that I have followed your journey. Today I thought, 6 years? It has been 6 years? Then I read on to the best news you have shared!
    Congratulations!

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