I lived alone for several years, and I lived far from my family for a number of those years. While in Florida, I had my cat Sarge to keep me company, but most of my time in Japan was as a solitaire. After my last roommate and I parted ways, I decided that the only way I would ever live with anybody again was to be married to them.

Marriage was never something I completely ruled out of my life. I didn’t want to not get married. I didn’t want marry just any man; I wanted to marry the right man. I also would have been okay with cohabitation, but I had the feeling that marriage would make things easier from a legal standpoint, not to mention just for the sake of convenience. But that was really a distraction from the main point, which was that I wanted to be in love with someone before I considered living with them.

Geordie moved in with me at the beginning of February, 2011. Though, really, “moved in” is just a convenient way to put it. It was possible that it was going to be a temporary thing, a place for him to live while he looked for a permanent job and while I looked for a new one. He was temporarily assigned a position in Hitachi, which was far enough away from Moriya for him to be unable to make a daily commute. So, really, he lived with me on the weekends. The rest of the week, I was still alone. We’d seen more of each other when we weren’t living together.

Two weeks after he moved in, we found out I was pregnant. We saw no way for him to be able to leave the job he had, so for a month, he was home only on the weekends. I was pregnant alone during that time, and it was tough going. It felt to me that I was becoming more adjusted to the pregnancy than he was, and to be fair, that was probably true. I lived with the pregnancy constantly; for him, it was a weekend thing. He didn’t go through the many bodily changes that reminded me of what was happening or the mood swings that shook me into sudden bouts of crying. Or the tiredness – that sheer exhaustion that knocked me out cold. These were oddities to him, things I had to explain again every weekend. That ended with the Tohoku earthquake, the story of which is far too long to tell here and shall be written about at length in November.

Things changed after the earthquake. Geordie came back from Hitachi, and his company sent him to work in Tokyo, which was an unpleasant commute but one that allowed him to come home every day. From then on, I had him every day and every night. We became a daily occurence for each other, and it was during this time, I think, that the pregnancy became a very real thing for him. It was at that point that we became not a unit of two but a unit of three.

It happened faster than I had expected. One month, I was living alone happily enough; the next, I was living with a family – my family. I had thought that would take longer to adjust to, but by the time we moved to Susono, it was done. I was a wife and a mother, carrying a child that would make our little family complete. I was carrying our child, and nothing could have been more right. Everything was as it should be, and I would not have gone back to living alone for anything. I still wouldn’t.

Geordie and Lauren and me. We’re a family. We always will be. Lauren is a part of us, still loved and cared for. It doesn’t matter that she’s not physically here with us; she’s here in other ways, and we’ll carry her with us for the rest of our lives.