Wednesday, March 9, 2016

This Is My Fight Song...

Dear Seth,

This Thursday is five weeks since you passed away. What a whirlwind it has been and I cannot believe that much time has gone by. I miss you so much that it hurts. 

After your funeral in Pittsburgh I went back to Maryland for two weeks. I stayed with your brother, Gina, and Giuliana. They went back to work and I was left to spend the days alone. Some days I did okay, and other days I had a lot of trouble and would call your brother or Josh L. crying. I wasn't sleeping at night, so I would watch TV or play on my phone until my eyes physically could not stay open any longer. Dinner time was good though. Dinner time meant that Josh, Gina, and Giuls would be home and I could talk with Giuls about her Uncle Seth. I looked forward to those few hours every day. They were peaceful hours. 

Since your funeral we also had a beautiful memorial service for you at your high school. You would have been so proud of your students, the faculty at Winters Mill High School, and our family. They did an amazing job honoring you. Your principle gave the nicest speech about you. I learned so much about "Mr. Budai, the school counselor." During the memorial the choir at your school, the students, myself, and all of your nieces and nephews got onto the stage to sing "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten. I believe that this song symbolizes your spirit and your courage while you fought your fight. It was so powerful to see everyone on the stage, especially all of the kids. You really made an impact on them Seth. You really made an impact on me. I have listened to that song over and over since your memorial service. At the memorial service the chaplain, whom our family met at the hospital the day you passed away, told a story about your fight. He paralleled it to the story of Jacob's ladder. He made sense of your fight the night before you passed away. I needed him to make sense of your struggle, because it was one of the most difficult things I have ever witnessed in my life. It was not supposed to be that way. You showed God that you still had a lot of fight left in you. And boy did you fight. You made an explosion for 20 months. I was so proud of you for that. I hope you heard me in the ambulance when I told you that. I hope you heard me remind you that you did beat cancer. I kept reminding you of the Stewart Scott quote that you lived by, "You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live." You still have a lot of fight left in you Seth. Your legacy will live on and in your honor I will fight to beat Ewings Sarcoma. I hope you heard me in the ambulance.

"Fight Song" By Rachel Platten

We had people over our house following the memorial service. Our closest friends and family and those who traveled to Maryland. Nothing big, but it was nice none the less. It was my third time at the house since you passed away. My counselor thought it would be good for me to be there, surrounded by our family and friends. I could not bring myself to sleep there that night. I have not been back since.

On Monday, March 1, 2016 I started my first journey since you passed away. I needed to get away from Maryland so I decided to go "home." That morning I got in the car and I started driving to Connecticut. Before pulling out onto the road I found a compartment in our car that I had long since forgotten about. Inside it I found a binder filled with CDs that you made, likely between the years 2000 and 2006, right before we started dating. I remembered seeing it in the past, in your old cars, but I never gave it much thought. The CDs have your writing on them. It made me happy to see your hand writing. I decided I would listen to your mixes while I drove to New England. Each time one CD ended I replaced it with another. Between CDs the radio was full of static. I never changed the station after leaving Baltimore. 

I made it to Connecticut and spent the evening there. When I got to my parents house, I was very anxious to go inside since neither of them were home and I would be alone. I don't exactly know why I was nervous, it is not like you grew up with me in that house. But, for some reason, it made me sad that you were not there with me. Naturally when I got inside the house music was on. My mother always leaves the radio playing softly in the kitchen. The song that I heard was "Fight Song." I knew you were with me and it put me at peace. I went to dinner that night with my parents. I only stayed for one night. Jackson slept in the same bed that you last used when we were there for my grandma's funeral. 

The next morning I left for Cape Cod. I had mixed emotions about being there. It would be the first night since you passed away that I would be alone. I was terrified and anxious, but I was also looking forward to the peace and quiet so that I could be surrounded by my thoughts. While driving I thought long and hard about this blog. How would I do it? Would people read it? What should I call it? After deciding what I would do for the blog, I contemplated what to name it. Some thoughts were, "#SethStrong" and "Seth's Journeys." I kept coming back to "Journeys With Seth," but I was unsure. At that very moment the CD in the car finished playing. I took the CD out to replace it with the next one. For the first time there was no static on the radio. Rachel Platten's "Fight Song" was on. I chose "Journeys With Seth." 

While driving to Cape Cod I turned the GPS on, even though I can drive there in my sleep. I turned it on because I like to watch the ETA change as I make better time. Before I knew it I followed the GPS and I accidentally got off the highway at a different exit than I would ordinarily take. The GPS took me right by St. Pius, the church where we got married. I do not think that is a coincidence. 

I went to my grandmother's house first, like we always did. I realized when I got there that it was the first time I was at her house since she passed away last September. I walked around and talked to her. I told her that I loved her and I asked her to introduce you to my Papa in Heaven. I hope that she has. Jackson and I walked to the beach. It was a beautiful and sunny day and I was so excited to be there. I cannot explain the peace that it gave me by being there. I knew that you were there with me. You loved Cape Cod so much. 


It was so calm and it was a perfect day to talk to you and remember our times together at Cape Cod. We had some incredible journeys there with our family and friends. Here are a few pictures from our past.

 Martha's Vineyard ~ 2011
Summer 2015 
 Summer 2015
 Labor Day Weekend ~ 2008
 Labor Day Weekend ~ 2009
 Chatham ~ 2013
Royal Palace ~ 2013
Marylou's Coffee ~ 2015

You would have loved being at the beach with me the other day. I brought the dog with me (even though I know it is off limits). He had so much fun. Just like his dad, he was in his glory. We went for a long walk and we took the time to take in the views and experience the calmness. I decided I would take pictures with your #SethStrong bracelet. That bracelet symbolizes your strength and your fight. You and your bracelet will travel with me everywhere I go. Here are some of the pictures of our Journey last week. 

Marylou's Coffee  ~ 2016
Jackson ~ 2016
Jackson ~ 2016

Notice that your bracelet is supported by a stone that I found while walking on the beach. My co-worker is taking a pilgrimage to a city called Santiago De Compostela. It is where the remains of St. James are buried. She explained to me that one of the most meaningful places along the route is a tall iron cross called Cruz De Ferro. Pilgrims carry a small rock with them along the route and leave it at the foot of the cross as a symbol of leaving behind their burdens and sins. She asked me if she could carry a stone there in your honor. The stone that wears your bracelet in this picture will be traveling to Spain. Pretty cool, right?

All of a sudden, while walking along the beaches and taking pictures, Jackson stopped in his tracks. I found myself staring in the face of a seal! In 31 years I have never before seen a seal on Longell Road Beach. My mom and uncle were amazed by this! They have been going to that beach since they were children and they have never seen one there either. You and I used to go see them in Chatham at the piers, but never in my wildest imagination did I expect to see one staring at Jackson and I on my grandma's beach. It was incredible! I was able to get quite close before it swam into the ocean. Jackson was not a fan, but everyone I have told keeps telling me that it was you or my grandma coming to me to say hi. I wish you would have been with me, you would have loved it!
Seal ~ 2016

When I went to the Cape I had hoped to use the time to reflect on our life together and to start this blog. As it turned out, my parents do not have internet or TV at their house during the off-season. It does not make sense for them to pay for it when they are not there. This is reasonable, but none of us thought of this before I left for the Cape. After a beautiful day at the beach and some clam chowder at our favorite place I went to my parent's house. I was so proud of myself for having the courage to be there all alone until I realized there was no TV or internet. I was not going to be able to work on my blog. The sun went down and it was lonely. All to quickly I learned that I am not ready to be alone yet. I cried for a long time. 

All things considered, I thought I was doing pretty well. I am figuring out our bills. I am spending time with our family and our friends. I am going to counseling. I am planning to go back to work next week. I am actively seeking groups for young widows. (Incidentally, there are none!) And then I find myself hysterically crying while I was all alone. The quietness of my parents house was excruciating. Being in Cape Cod, without you, was suddenly awful. After breakfast with my Aunt the next morning, I left Cape Cod.

I headed to my sister's house in Burlington, MA. I stayed there for a few days and then I went to my brother's house in New Hampshire. After leaving there I drove to Pittsburgh to stay with your parents. I am in Pittsburgh now. On my way through Connecticut, when heading to Pittsburgh, I stopped at Shady Glenn to meet my parents for lunch. It is still as good as ever. I remember the last time that you and I went to Shady Glenn. It was really nice to spend time with my family. I miss them a lot. I relaxed and I enjoyed being surrounded by everyone, especially the kids. We told stories of Uncle Seth and I told them how proud you were of all of them. Sarah told me, "Uncle Seth is just invisible now. But he is always with us and is watching us. I bet he is happy in Heaven." I hope that you are happy in Heaven Seth.

Sarah and Jackson ~ 2016

I am doing better now that I am in Pittsburgh. The temperature is pleasant and I can walk to the cemetery with Jackson to visit you. It has been beautiful out. I bought a notebook and on the cover it says, "happy thoughts." I am writing down fond memories that I have with/of you so that I never forget our life together. It makes me happy to do this. I am calm when I am at the cemetery. Sometimes I cry and sometimes I laugh when thinking of some of our funnier times together. My tears are sad, but they are also happy. I love my memories of us and writing them down is as therapeutic to me as it was to share stories of you at the funeral and the memorial service. I just love remembering you. I just love you.

You and Jackson ~ 2016

Today I will get together with friends from college. Katie and I are going to lunch and a movie. She has been such a wonderful friend, I am glad that I have her. Thursday night I am getting together with all of the women in your family (Jaseks and Kostelniks). I thought it would be fun to have a ladies night with your family. Fourteen of us will be going to the Waterfront for Sushi and I will be getting some wine too, I need it! I will visit you again today with my notebook in hand. 

I love you Seth and I hope you are resting peacefully. I will keep writing to you to update you on our adventures. I will bring you with me where ever I go. I am not sure what our next adventure will be, but I do know that I am going to start working again next week. I will start out just a few days a week, but I will get to five days soon. I have not been there since before Christmas when you were admitted to the hospital. I think it will be good to be back. My experience being alone in Cape Cod showed me that I benefit tremendously from distraction. Luckily we have the greatest family and friends and I have a lot of wonderful distractions in my life. 

I wish not to be in this situation. I wish you were still here and that I could talk to you and hug you and kiss you. But I am thankful for the time that we did have and for our marriage. I am thankful for our family and our friends and the support that I have been getting. I am doing my best to be strong for you Setherina, like I promised you I would be. I will update you again soon, but until then, please keep looking down on me. Until then, please keep being happy in Heaven. 

Love Always,

"Don't give up. Don't ever give up."

Seth Jacob Budai Caring Bridge Page

This is my fight song
Take back my life song
Prove I'm alright song
My power's turned on
Starting right now I'll be strong (I'll be strong)
I'll play my fight song
And I don't really care if nobody else believes
'Cause I've still got a lot of fight left in me
Know I've still got a lot of fight left in me


  1. Lynn Ann KostelnikMarch 9, 2016 at 11:58 AM

    Meredith I cry everyday thinking it is a dream and Seth is still with us. My heart breaks for all of you! I am so thankful Seth found you... You are truly an amazing Person! To know that Our Seth was loved so much and will always remain loved gives us comfort. Finally, We Love You Meredith!

  2. Meredith, words cannot express how happy I am that you post these blogs. I grieve along with you as I read this. I cannot imagine your pain, but I feel like I'm with you as I read this. I want you to know, your love, you and Seth, has touched my life so much. A pivotal moment in my relationship with Scott had been a conversation we had back in November when we discussed how excited we are to consider a life together and how much your love shows us how deep those vows of love will be. We looked at life and all of its ups and downs and what it will mean to tackle it together. We got engaged last week and my mind frequently goes back to that conversation. As we plan our futures and a wedding, I keep in the back of my mind what it really boils down to: love. I thank you so much for sharing your journey. Always remember, you are not alone.

  3. Meredith, you don't know me, and I didn't know Seth either. My family and I live in Taneytown (MD) and Seth and I exchanged a message on FB. It was about the Steelers. I wanted to meet him around Westminster, somewhere, to give him my copies of Pittsburgh Magazine (somehow I feel it sacrilegious to throw them away)! I'm sorry that I was sick and not able to attend Seth's memorial at Winters Mill. I admire the strength you both have had through this journey, and I pray for you and Seth daily. Keep fighting on!! Maribeth Beringer #Sethstrong

  4. I love reading this Meredith. You have such a way with words. I can hear you talking and see Seth smiling at you writing this. I am so glad you are doing a blog it will help you so much. Xoxox

  5. Seth is smiling. Keep writing.

  6. Seth is smiling. Keep writing.