Our anniversary trip was an opportunity to rest and recharge

I'm proud of all my husband and I have endured in our 20 years of marriage

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by Patrice Williams |

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My husband, Matt, and I just returned from six days and nights in the Riviera Maya, Mexico. We stayed at an adults-only, all-inclusive resort and spent most of our time by the crystal-clear beach waters and the beautiful pool. It was just what my soul needed.

I love my kids. I really, really do. I can’t imagine my life without them, and I would give the world for them. But I really needed this.

I don’t know if there’s been a time since Jonah, our son with epidermolysis bullosa (EB), was born 15 years ago that I have been worry-free. The mental strain of being the mother of a medically fragile child is intense. I feel guilty even typing that last sentence, because the anguish I suffer isn’t a fraction of the pain Jonah endures every day.

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A couple in their early 40s lean their heads together and smile for a photo while on vacation in Mexico. The woman is wearing a black strapless dress while the man is in a patterned, button-up shirt. Both are wearing black-framed glasses.

Patrice and Matt Williams enjoy their time away in celebration of their 20th anniversary near Tulum, Mexico. (Courtesy of Patrice Williams)

But there seems to be no turning off my mind. Even when I’m not with him or actively caring for him, I’m thinking of him, anticipating what he might need, or planning for his care. It’s a heavy load — one that I’m more than willing to bear, but also wearisome.

On top of that, my job has been nonstop since February. I’ve felt like I’m eating, sleeping, and breathing my 9-to-5 work requirements and the duties of motherhood.

Matt and I will have been married 20 years on May 15. The Mexico trip was our celebration for making it so far.

Life hasn’t been easy. We’ve endured the loss of our first son, Gabriel; parenting a special needs child; adopting our son Gideon through foster care, and all the trauma and complications that came with it; and all the normal stresses of life.

We married when we were 22, mere babes. I’m so stinkin’ proud of us — not only for surviving it, but for loving each other even more at 42 than we did on the day we wed.

Giving thanks for my people

To make this anniversary trip work, we had to ask for a lot of help. Matt’s parents, affectionately known as Granny and Granddaddy, stayed at our house for the entire week we were gone. They handled waking Gideon up in the morning (a sheer battle of wills, let me tell you), school drop-offs and pickups, homework, dinner, taking care of our dogs, and all that goes along with parenting for an entire week. Jonah’s amazing nurses, Jessi and Clair, worked 12-hour shifts during the week and one day each on the weekend, so the grandparents’ burden would be lighter. My team at work filled in all the gaps left by my absence. They told me they wouldn’t text me all week, and I wasn’t allowed to text them unless it was a picture of me with a drink in my hand.

A wife and husband pose in a ballroom next to two people wearing traditional Mexican outfits. The couple is standing back to back and each extending one hand out toward the camera.

Matt and Patrice enjoy some carefree fun on their 20th anniversary trip. (Courtesy of Patrice Williams)

Because of all the people who love and support us, Matt and I were able to get away. And our souls rested. Beyond what we wanted to drink next, what restaurant we would choose for dinner, or whether we wanted to catch the nightly poolside show or activity, we had to make zero decisions. I can’t remember a time in the last 15 years that I’ve been so carefree. We got to talk, laugh, and relax together, and remember our love for each other away from the stresses of daily life.

This anniversary trip rejuvenated both of us. It gave us an energy boost to fuel the daily work of partnership and choosing love. One thing I know is that I wouldn’t have survived losing Gabe or all that comes along with EB parenting if it weren’t for Matt. I know that God gave him to me for such a life as this. Sometimes I feel like I love him at home for all he does. But away from it all, it was nice to be reminded that I love him for all that he is, too.

Marriage is hard. Special needs parenting is hard. Life is hard. But at the end of the day, I’m so thankful for my people. And I’m thankful for the partnership with Matt that makes all the hard just a little bit easier. I don’t take him for granted. The love we’ve built is the foundation of our family and our complicated, beautiful life. I wouldn’t trade this beautiful mess for the world. I’m so thankful for the quiet, peaceful chance to remember.

Note: Epidermolysis Bullosa News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Epidermolysis Bullosa News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to epidermolysis bullosa.


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