Friday, December 17, 2010

30 Days of Thanks—Day #23

I am grateful for my Ed.

I have been putting off this post because I knew that even with as much writing as I do, there was no way I would ever be able to express in words how grateful I am to have Ed in my life and why.

Neither of us was looking for the other, or for anyone at all, when we found each other. We’d met in passing ten years before and neither of us had given the other a second thought in the meantime. When we met again, if anything our relationship came at a most inconvenient time. I was in the process of ending a marriage, he was ending a semi-serious relationship, and we were in the boiler room that is the first year of law school. As my first marriage came to a sad but amicable conclusion after six years, I feared what fate lay in store for a 28-year-old divorcee. The very idea of having to introduce myself to anyone and explain that I was divorced made me cringe. Ed, having endured the ending of a marriage himself (as well as the death of his mother), was a good and true friend through this process. And as our friendship rapidly and very naturally turned into something more, he taught me so many things: how to laugh again when everything seemed so very sad, how to dream about the future again when the future seemed so bleak, and how to open myself to love again when I wasn’t sure if I would be able to. He made me want to be a better person at every moment, and with him as a partner, I began the slow process of becoming the person I’d always wanted to be. That process is ongoing, as I still have infinite room to grow and become an ever-better version of myself, but in the meantime, I’m so grateful to have him by my side cheering me on every day.

While Hudson’s death has caused me to question everything I used to believe about how everything happens for a reason and how things that are meant to be will be, I have no doubt that Ed and I were meant to find one another at the time we did. Had we met earlier, had we not endured the events of our twenties before we met, we would never have been able to appreciate one another in the way that we do now.

That Ed was an incredible father hardly needs mentioning—anyone who reads this blog regularly already knows that, both from what I have described and from the many photos that demonstrate the very obvious love and affection that Ed and Hudson shared. I don’t know the intimate details of how other men parent, but it’s hard for me to imagine a father more engaged, more knowledgeable, and more in love with his child than Ed. Even though I was the “primary” caretaker (given that I was breastfeeding and working part-time), Ed was every bit as involved in Hudson’s life and care as I was. He was always eager to feed her (we called her breakfast every day “Daddy’s special”—a delightful combo of plain yogurt, smashed fruit, and baby oatmeal prepared with much love by Ed every morning), bathe her, put her to bed, spend time with her—ours was as shared a parenting relationship as a couple could have with a breastfeeding mother and a working father. Ed knew Hudson’s schedule and preferences and how to soothe her just as well as I did. And boy, did she love him, again, as is obvious in every photo ever taken of the two. She was a very, very lucky girl and her siblings will be just as lucky to have Ed as their daddy.

And now, as our ability to endure suffering is tested beyond the limits of what anyone should ever have to experience, we are only growing closer and stronger in our love. Although it is actually a myth that most couples end up divorcing after they lose a child (a terrible myth that is irresponsibly perpetuated in the media and popular culture), I never once had any doubt that we would survive this terrible thing. We grieve very differently to be sure (that men and women generally do so is NOT a myth), and it’s often hard for me that I continue to feeling so very fragile much of the time (this is also hard for Ed, who hates nothing more than to see me in pain, particularly when he can’t take it away). But we know ourselves and each other well enough, and more importantly, we love ourselves and each other well enough that we can give each other space when we need it or hold each other close when we need it, with no expectations of any “right” way to grieve our daughter’s death. It is not easy, and there are no doubt many more hard days ahead for us and our relationship as we learn to parent again after this loss, but I can’t imagine trying to do that with anyone else.

I am grateful for my Ed. If he had not taught me early on that we can still laugh when faced with sorrow, that we can still dream when dreaming seems futile, and most importantly, that our capacity for love is infinitely expansive, I don’t know how I would have ever lived through Hudson’s death, how I would still be living through this grief every day, or how I would ever be able to mother another child.

I love you so much, my dear husband, and am so very fortunate to have you.
The first picture we ever took together (October 2004)


  1. I love this. I don't have a lot else to say, except that I probably speak for all of us who went through law school with you and Ed and witnessed your relationship, even though I guess I knew you before you and Ed were a couple, now that you are I can't imagine anyone more perfect for each of you. I, too, am very glad you have one another.

    Tracy M.

    p.s. That picture of Hudson with the BlueBook is just too much. Although I (thankfully) don't have to use it much with my job, I still felt a physical revulsion when I saw that in the picture. Hudson's facial expression perfectly captures that feeling that I felt. As we all know, she was one smart cookie.

  2. These pictures brought tears to my eyes. Ed is indeed a wonderific person! And so you are you, Mandy. You two are so blessed to have one another. The love you share is unmistakable.

    I adore the pic of Ed surprising you with the birthday cake! You two are precious. Hudson was lucky to have such loving parents. And it is so clear how much she loved the two of you.


  3. A huge, stadium sized standing ovation to you Ed. What a remarkable person you are; you've made a difference not only to your family but to your whole community.

    Alex K

  4. OMG are we all reading each other's minds?! I LOVE the bluebook picture too! And Shabnam, how do we always make comments at the same time or one after another. :) Ok, shutting up now and leaving the office! xoxo!

    Alex K

  5. The picture of the two of them walking hand in hand is just amazing. Your love for each other is evident in the photos, and I know he is a wonderful Daddy. Lucky Hudson, lucky Penguin, lucky you to have Ed.
    Big hugs,

  6. You guys are a beautiful family...


  7. Beautifully written with tender tears. The love you share is amazing...Love On...Renee P.

  8. There is something about Ed Chaney. He has the kindest eyes, both in these photos and in real life, that I think I have ever seen. I am so grateful that you found each other.

  9. What a crazy beautiful life Mandy. You have such beauty together. Thank you for sharing.
    PS- I was married before in my 20's as well.

  10. I. am. not. a crier. People know this. But this post just makes me so tearful as the love that you and Ed have, that Ed has for Hudson, is so tangible. So palpable. As someone who lost her father very early on, I know the other side of grief for the father/daughter relationship that will never be. And it is so clear from your pictures, from your words, that Ed and Hudson had a remarkable bond. I know he must grieve that loss so deeply. Much love to him as he continues to walk his own journey of healing. I am certain you are a comfort to him just as he is to you, in ways that words could never express.

    I suppose the thing I have been most struck by, from the very beginning, in reading your posts on facebook, your pregnancy blog, and now here, watching the pictures unfold from your marriage, pregnancy and beyond, is the purity of your emotions for your family. How do I describe? So many relationships in our lives are complicated by outside forces, by internal struggles. But it has always been clear to me that you and Ed are each others' One True North (thanks, SM), your love is pure and strong and ever-present, untainted by the pressures of the world. Your parenting love is the same. And, sadly, so is your grief. Your ability to feel that unadulterated, pure love, and loss is actually such a rarity. And as much as it's raw, it's also real. For that reality, that precious double-edged sword, I am so grateful for you both. Being true to yourselves and each other will be your best medicine and coping skill as you continue this path together.

    much love,

  11. These are all wonderful pictures. Especially love the first picture y'all ever took together (you look so happy!), as well as the ones with Ed reading to Hudson and Hudson playing with the Bluebook.

    What a blessed life Hudson had with you as her mother and Ed as her father. She was so loved, and there's no way that escaped her notice.