December 2008 - last family photo with Josh
Nor could we have foreseen that in our 25th year of marriage our youngest - seventeen year old Josh - would take himself out of our life, our family, our marriage, our future. In one fell swoop, our lives no longer felt "blessed".
But with the loving support of family and friends, including Josh's friends, we have managed to soldier on by putting one foot in front of the other, not looking too far ahead; instead, adhering to the old but true adage to take "one day at-a-time". The days add up the weeks, the weeks become months and the months morph into years.
Our marriage has survived the worst blow - the death of a child. As I reflect on why or how, I suppose it is because we gave each other the space to grieve - in our own ways, without judgement or expectation.
And I stopped being focused on small, stupid things that would invariably cause tension or arguments. Those things were inconsequential next to the monumental task of surviving. Peripheral issues fell by the wayside and stayed there.
This lasting change has been a hidden blessing, perhaps one, sad to say, that may not have occurred without such a tragedy to wake me up to what truly matters in relationships: grace, peace, forgivness, tolerance, kindness, giving the benefit of the doubt, active listening, and unconditional acceptance.
According to Josh's friends, this is how he treated others. Perhaps striving to embody these qualities is another way for me to keep his memory alive - to allow his spirit to live on within me.