Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Married Without A Spouse

Okay, this blog will be a little different than other posts I have done. This is for Seth, but this is for everyone who is a widow, anyone that is interested in reading my writing, and this is for me. I have been alone for five nights now, without the help of my family or friends, and this is what I have learned... 

1. I have no idea how to relax! For 20 months I had one purpose, besides work and getting up in the morning, my purpose was to be supportive to Seth. That support came in all forms. When he was doing incredibly well, it was simply taking advantage of that time by creating wonderful experiences and memories with each other. When he started using a wheelchair, it was helping him to get into and out of the house, helping him to bathe and to get dressed, and helping him to get to and from work. For the last few weeks of his life it was helping him to do all of that plus managing his medications and so much more that I am sure he would rather I not share. For 20 months I always had something to do with or for Seth. Even when he did not require much physical assistance, I spent my hours praying for his health and worrying about his health. Now, two and a half months after he passed away, I finally have the opportunity to relax and I cannot for the life of me figure out how one does that. I couldn't wait for this day, when I would not be overwhelmed with my long to do list (which is still incredibly long by the way), and yet I am at a loss. How could this be? I must have relaxed in my life, even in the last 20 months. The difference, I learned, is that before I had Seth. Seth could calm me down and could make the most quiet, relaxing, non-significant moments seem so enjoyable. Without Seth, I have absolutely no idea how one relaxes. 

2. I have no idea who I am! For the last six years of my adult life I have lived with Seth and we were married for over two and a half of those years. If I was not at work, I was with Seth. This is not to say I never did anything without him, I most certainly did. Sometimes I would go out with my friends for dinner and drinks or I would go biking after work. He didn't come with me when I would get pedicures, and I got those a lot. But, if I was not doing one of those things, I was with Seth. We did everything together. We took drives with the dog. We loved going for coffee and out to breakfast together. We loved watching DVR and eating pizza on a Friday night.  We watched all of the same shows and rarely watched TV without each other, except maybe when he watched ESPN. When we took the dog on a walk, we did it together. Did I mention we did everything together? No wonder I don't know how to relax. I don't have any idea what I like to do for fun. I will never forget what I liked to do with Seth for fun. But I have never really thought about what I like to do by myself. I have never been alone as an adult. Without Seth, I have no idea who adult Meredith is. I think I need a hobby. I think? Maybe? How do I even know? This is something I never thought I would experience. I am 31 years old and yet so confused.  At a time when most people are finally figuring their lives out, I haven't got a clue.

3. I am still married! I call myself a widow, but I do not really identify with being one. When I think of a widow I think of elderly people. I think of people that truly got to share their life with their loved one. I think of people that had far more than three married years (or less). When I think of widows, I think of people that had children with their spouse, built a family with their loved one, and built a life with their soul mate. Seth and I were 31 when he died. We did not get the chance to start a family. We did not get the chance to own our single family home that we talked about. We did not get the chance to take our children on vacations. We did not get to travel the world together. We did not get to grow old together. I am not like those people, so I cannot be a widow. But what am I? I absolutely do not consider myself single. To be single would imply that I am "on the market." I am most certainly not on the market. I am still very much in love with Seth. Sometimes I am still in such disbelief that I truly think he will just walk through the door and give me a hug and kiss. He is still very much my husband and I am very much his wife. I know that he will not walk through the door, I get it. But that does not mean that I am ready to "move on," whatever that means. People actually ask me about dating. People say things like, "you are young so you still have so much more time." Do you really think I am sitting around worrying about if I will be single for the rest of my life? Who knows where life will take me, I don't even want to think about that. But as far as I am concerned, I am married to Seth. I am married, but I don't have a spouse.


I am surprised in myself because I am doing okay(ish) being alone at the house. I miss Seth and I cry. But I also find myself laughing when I think of our memories or funny things that he used to say. I even find myself mad at Seth because I am pretty sure he is in some way responsible for the broken storm door, the broken kitchen cabinet, and the plumbing leak at the kitchen sink. It is like he is testing me, just to be sure I can figure things out. Well Seth, I am figuring it out so please stop making everything in the house break! I cannot handle any additional stress at this time. Missing you is exhausting enough, and I miss you a lot! 

I have been alone at home for five nights and I have learned three things. I need to learn how to relax, I need to figure out my identity, and I am still very much married to Seth. As time goes on, I get the impression I will be learning a lot more. I expect that Seth will still teach me lessons, more in the future than ever before. The day Seth died was the very worst day of my life and I have experienced a roller coaster of emotions ever since. But there is one thing I know for sure. My wedding anniversary is June 29th and I will always celebrate my marriage to Seth. I will always be married to Seth, I just don't have a spouse.

Friday, April 8, 2016

65 Days A Widow

Dear Seth,

To be honest, I am not sure where to begin. I have started this entry and re-started this entry a million times. Since I last wrote, things have been very difficult for me. And yet, at the same time, there have also been many good moments. I regularly experience multiple emotions all at once and it is exhausting. It has been a long 65 days. 


I have returned to work. I am happy to be back. When I last wrote, I was struggling with tremendous guilt for experiencing happiness. I am proud to tell you that I am still very happy to be back at work. I am thrilled to tell you that I am no longer feeling guilty about it. The fact of the matter is, work is a guaranteed reprieve from the sadness that haunts me the rest of the day. Since you have died, work is the only part of my life that has not changed. Everything else is different now.

I applied for a new position at work - the senior (supervisor) position. I struggled with the decision to apply, as I felt the timing was not right given the circumstances. However; I really wanted the position. The second Tuesday that I was back at work I had my interview. I thought it was okay, was slightly unsure, but I did my best. Immediately following the interview I pulled out my phone to call you and tell you how it went. As quickly as I pulled out my phone to call you, I remembered that you were no longer there to call. This happens to me a lot and it is heartbreaking. 



When I found out that I was the one to get the job I wanted to tell you right away. Instead, I messaged our families. I had to share the news with everyone that is important to you and I. In some weird way it made me think I was telling you too. If I could have told you, I would have thanked you. I would have thanked you for the confidence that you instilled in me which pushed me to pursue this, despite my current circumstances. I would have thanked you for the strength you taught me about while I watched you fight for your life without trepidation. I would have thanked you for your support. I am desperately holding on to the idea that you are still supporting me from heaven. Without your support, I will have nothing. 

I moved back into our house. I have been there for three weeks. I wish there was a manual to explain the feelings associated with losing your husband. I wish there was a guide to help you cope with returning to a home that no longer feels like a home because the family that once lived there no longer exists. There should be something to prepare you for such profound loss. There should be something to prepare you for returning home and returning to your routine, only to have the most integral part of your life no longer be a part of your life. But that manual does not exist. Instead you are left feeling completely alone, hopeless, and tired. I read this blog, written by another widow named Katie Wallace, and she described the loss so well. What she wrote is heartbreaking and sadly so accurate. She said...
"You wake alone in the bed you shared with your love. You cannot reach over to hold them, kiss them good morning or watch them while they are sleeping. They are no longer there and never will be again. Death is permanent. No more good morning smiles, touches or gestures of any kind. You wake up alone when you previously woke everyday with the love of your life."
It seems that I should have been prepared for this. You and I feared that this may happen. We discussed what I would do if you passed away. We talked about my future and what it would look like if you were not in it. And yet, when you passed, it was a complete shock to my core. Why didn't I expect this? I knew you were very sick. How couldn't I have expected this? I suppose I just always thought that we would have more time together. Why couldn't we have more time together? "I didn't know that day would be our last. I didn't know I would have to say goodbye so fast." Those are lines from a song I have listened to over and over again for the last 65 days. Jenn Bostic describes being "Jealous of the Angels." I AM jealous of the angels around the throne tonight.

Jealous Of The Angels - Jenn Bostic

These 65 days have been very hard. Returning home without you  is one of the saddest things I have ever had to do. I have reached out to different support groups, but I have yet to find one of interest. Most of them are for middle aged adults. Although I imagine their loss is also intense, I find myself jealous of them for having so much more time with their loved ones. I find myself sad that for 61% of the time that you and I were married  you were sick. We were denied a long marriage and you were denied your health for the majority of it. It seems so unfair. I am working with my counselor to deal with this.

Someone asked me recently if I was angry. They suggested I would have every reason to be mad. Although I am sad and I am confused, I am not mad. One of the greatest things that you gave me was my faith. When we discussed hospice care you admitted to me that you questioned God sometimes. You did not understand why this was happening to you. I confidently answered that there had to be a reason. There had to be some greater purpose. I still believe that. It is all I have to hold on to. I think you knew that too.

Although it has been a long, exhausting, and sad 65 days. There have been so many good moments too. I have been given 65 days to tell stories about the man that I loved so much. I have been given opportunities to meet new people that I would have never otherwise met. I have been blessed to have constant reminders that our family, friends, and colleagues are the most incredible people. I have been reminded 65 times a day for 65 days that you were loved by so many people. I have had 65 days to think about how I can honor you and continue to navigate this journey of life with you by my side. I know you are with me and with all of the people whose lives you have touched.

The last 65 days I have been busy experiencing my new life. I am incredibly happy to say that the last 65 days have been busy for you too! People have been so impacted by your life that they bring you with them on their journeys also.


#SethStrong in Las Vegas
(Photo courtesy of Scott Meyer)

Multiple people have asked me if they can participate in "Journeys With Seth." I hope that they do. I hope that they carry with them a piece of you every where that they go. This is how you will be honored. This is how your legacy will live on forever! This is why I am not mad. The sadness will never go away. But, neither will my pride for you and the happiness that you gave me. Those emotions did not die with you, they will live on forever because of you. I cannot be mad because I was given the gift of time with you and that will never be forgotten. You will never be forgotten.

The greatest things that have happened over these 65 days is that two people in the state of California now have eye sight because of your tissue donation and a scholarship was established in your honor at Winters Mill High School. As of this week, the Seth Jacob Budai Memorial Scholarship became official. The purpose of this scholarship is to honor your life by providing two scholarships for WMHS graduating seniors who have shown academic achievement and will be pursuing degrees in the health sciences or education at an accredited college or university. You will always be a falcon. You will never stop influencing students.You will never stop making me proud of you. You will never stop making me proud to be your wife.

I love you so much. I miss you. I hate being home without you. I am sad. But I am also happy to be at work. I am grateful for our families and friends. I am excited that our friends are taking you on their journeys. And, I am confident that your legacy will never die. It has been a long 65 days. It will continue to be a long and difficult journey. But I will do my best to continue taking you with me and honoring you in all I do. I will always love you.

Love,
Meredith

"Don't give up. Don't ever give up." ~ Jimmy V.

Seth Jacob Budai Caring Bridge Page

Seth Jacob Budai Memorial Scholarship (Criteria and Application)

Picture of "Mr. Budai"
(Picture courtesy of Seth Jacob Budai Memorial Scholarship flyer)