This Christmas, Dennis Cosgrove is remembering his late wife, Megan, in a very special way. After two difficult years of mourning, he is bringing out the Christmas tree that Megan used to decorate every year with her mother and starting a new tradition with his 2-year-old son, Declan.
It’s been two years since Megan died, a mere 24 hours after giving birth. Her sudden death was caused by a rare complication of pregnancy known as eclampsia, which causes the blood pressure to skyrocket, and in Megan’s case, led to seizures and bleeding in the brain. Despite emergency surgery, she never recovered consciousness. And so, on Nov. 29, 2015, Dennis made the painful decision to remove her from life support.
It was “the best day of my life, followed by the worst day,” Cosgrove told People in an interview earlier this month. And though the two events occurred just a day apart, he’s thankful for that “little bit of separation. We can celebrate his birthday and try to make it a happy day, then mourn her the next.”
A Brief Love Affair
Dennis and Megan Cosgrove enjoyed a whirlwind relationship. They met in February 2013, and by January of the following year they had purchased their first home. By December, they were married, and in February, Megan learned she was pregnant for the first time.
Cosgrove was deliriously happy. “Megan was the strongest, most confident, beautiful woman who lit up a room with her laughter and personality. She’s just one of those people that makes everyone around her better and brings out the best in people. She truly did that to me. I thrived as a person being with her.”
After Megan’s death, Cosgrove survived with the help of family, friends and even complete strangers, who donated diapers, formula and their time to help the grieving father care for his infant son. One woman even showed up with a bag of Christmas presents, wrapped and addressed to Declan “from Santa.”
It was those little things that helped him through his first Christmas with the baby, Cosgrove explains. “We were just in complete shock that someone would come and do that for us.”
Inspired by the generosity of those who supported him, Dennis eventually joined Family Lives On, an organization that helps children who have lost a parent to continue meaningful traditions they once shared. Even though Declan never had the opportunity to celebrate a special day with Megan, the concept resonated with Cosgrove, perhaps because Megan’s death came in the midst of the holidays. And he saw firsthand the healing that the interventions brought about.
So this year, a little more than two years after Megan’s death, Dennis Cosgrove decided it was time to create a tradition of his own with his mother-in-law and his young son. “We’re going to set up the tree, because I know how much my wife loved to do it,” he said. “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.”
In addition to starting something new for Declan, however, Cosgrove says he is putting up the Christmas tree to pay tribute to the love he and Megan shared. “What we had was something that a lot of people chase for their whole entire lifetime, he said. “I consider myself lucky in the sense that I did get an opportunity to have that and know what it feels like.”
I think it goes without saying that Declan is also lucky to have such an amazing dad.