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  • Writer's pictureEmilie Surrusco


I was putting together our holiday card the other day and I took a step back and looked at the finished product. Assembled before me was a collage of a happy family – Happy New Year from the Surruscos  it read – two beautiful children, a Mom, a Dad; all crammed together in a photo booth at the beach; or dressed up like Buzz Lightyear; or grinning in the December cold. I almost pinched myself to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming. This was my family. A family that I created. The family that I never thought was possible for me.

When I was in the midst of my abusive relationship with Jason, we talked about marriage. I remember thinking to myself as we toyed around with the details that I would likely kill myself if I married him. The funny thing was, as this thought was going through my head, I didn’t feel that I could do anything to stop it. We would get married and I would feel so trapped and so miserable that the only way out for me would be death. That was just the way it was going to be. At the time, I didn’t know how to get out, get away or build a life outside of him.

Now, nearly 20 years later, I still can’t believe that I managed to build something as beautiful and wonderful as the family depicted in that card. I couldn’t have done it without the gentle patience of my husband Michael, who has truly taught me the beauty and wonder of love. Together, we have built the real, chaotic, joyful family that I never imagined would be mine.

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