Patton Oswalt on Why He Remarried 18 Months After His Wife's Sudden Death

"It feels like an evolution," Patton Oswalt tells PEOPLE of his marriage to Meredith Salenger

Patton Oswalt could not be more in love with his new bride, Meredith Salenger.

On Nov. 4, the duo tied the knot in front of family and friends at the Jim Henson Studios in Los Angeles, 18 months after Oswalt’s first wife, Michelle McNamara, died unexpectedly in her sleep.

“It feels like an evolution,” Oswalt, 48, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “After the darkness, I went through all the ways I had to strengthen myself to try to recognize joy again. Meredith was a beacon I had to reach for.”

McNamara died in April 2016, leaving the comedian to care for their 8-year-old daughter, Alice.

But Oswalt, Salenger and their closest friends and family strongly believe it was McNamara who orchestrated their meeting from above.

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Jeff Vespa/Vespa Pictures

“When I first starting talking with Patton on Facebook, it was just sort of witty banter,” says Salenger, 47. “There was nothing to it, but as I started getting to know him better, I looked up Michelle on Facebook and I saw that we had like 15 mutual friends. One of them was my best friend since 7th grade. I called her and was like, ‘Tell me about Michelle.’ She was best friends with Michelle after college. She was like, ‘I loved her. She’s amazing. She’s so funny and smart.’ ”

She adds, “When I met Patton and Alice, it just felt so, so right. I never thought I’d get married, but then I fell madly in love.”

Meredith Salenger,Patton Oswalt
Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Oswalt felt blessed that his new wife was able to bond with McNamara’s family as well.

“It just felt like worlds were connecting and everything was okay again,” says Oswalt. “We’re still floating on this other level that we’ve been on since the day we met.”

“I’ve only ever felt that level of joy once before in my life, and it was so profound and perfect it felt greedy to ever wish for it again,” he says. “But I did, so now all I can do is show Meredith a level of gratitude and love that’s greater than the joy she’s brought me, and my daughter Alice. Because this is a new level of joy, and a new life, and I’ll always strive to deserve it.”

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