Christmas traditions are special, especially for young families. Starting traditions early helps to solidify them as time goes on, and makes for great memories.
For Megan and Dennis Cosgrove, they couldn't wait to start planning Christmas activities with their soon-to-be-born son. However, tragedy struck during childbirth. The day after Thanksgiving in 2015, Megan's water broke at the gym. She was rushed to the hospital, where it was discovered that she was showing signs of pre-eclampsia, which can be a life-threatening complication of high blood pressure.
Megan underwent a C-section, where she delivered a beautiful baby boy named Declan. However, eclampsia set in during the operation, and she started experiencing seizures. She also developed an aneurysm and required emergency surgery. Dennis Cosgrove was left with the devastating decision of whether or not to take his wife off of life support, just hours after she had given birth to their son. Dennis made the choice to take Megan off life support, and all of a sudden he was left with a newborn baby all on his own.
“It’s still very hard, it’s the best day of my life, followed by the worst day,” Cosgrove said. “It still just gives me a little bit of separation to where we can celebrate his birthday and try to make it a happy day, then mourn her the next. It’s always going to be hard.”
Now two years old, Declan is a healthy, happy little boy. The pair have received help from family, friends, and strangers who all want to help make sure Megan's memory lives on. One woman even filled the living room with diapers, formula, and gifts from "Santa" that were already wrapped and labeled.
“For me, the big things aren’t hard,” Cosgrove said. “But it’s those little things like that, like wrapping packages, or gifts. Knowing that I had to get my son gifts and trying to celebrate the holiday…She took care of this stuff. We were just in complete shock that someone would come and do that for us.”
Two years after tragedy struck, Cosgrove realized it was time to start making memories for him and Declan.
“I didn’t have a chance to establish traditions with my wife, and my son didn’t either,” said Cosgrove. “I couldn’t imagine one of those things that you always did with your parents, and then not being able to do it because you lost your parent. It hit home with me."
That's why this year, he's choosing to use his wife's memory to start a new tradition both their families can enjoy.
Megan had an artificial Christmas tree she would decorate every year with her mom until it was "perfect." This year, Dennis has decided to bring the tree out and decorate it with Declan.
“My mother-in-law misses that, so I just told her ‘You know what? We’re going to do it again, and we’re going to do it with Declan, and he’s going to see it,’” Cosgrove said. “We’re going to set up the tree, because I know how much my wife loved to do it. This is what our tradition is going to be. It’s not moving on. It’s always moving forward. That’s what it always is.”
“What we had was something that a lot of people chase for their whole entire lifetime," Declan said. "Some people get it and get to do it over the course of a lifetime, and some people never get to have it. I consider myself lucky in the sense that I did get an opportunity to have that and know what it feels like.”