“My husband and I have only been married 5 years, I need more time to show him how much I truly
love him. I want my lifetime with him. I want the fighting, and loving. He has stayed by me though
everything, even when it gets so frustrating I could give up. Though we both are frustrated by my
disease, he has never let that break us. He won’t give up on me. He has given up so much to make me
happy and to do what is right for me, never thinking how it’s going to affect him first. He would do
anything for me, and this I know because he has done everything for me. I have never been so in love
with anyone else in my life. He is the only one that makes me whole. He is always loving me, and for that
I love him.”
Those words were written by Megan, in October of 2010. At the time, she was incredibly sick. An oxygen machine had sat in our living room, loudly buzzing away 24/7 for about a year so far. More often than not, she wasn’t home, she was in the hospital. I would mix and prepare her aerosol treatments for her, bring her her pills, wash her clothes, cook dinner, and go to work. I’d lift her into and out of the tub, and wash her hair for her. If we did leave the house, I would ensure she had everything she needed, including a wheelchair.
It took a village, make no mistake. Her parents were there for her, for us, whenever she needed. I couldn’t be there at all hours. I had to stay in a dead-end job, with a 2 hour commute each way, just so we could keep our insurance. Even when I would receive offers from nearby and more desirable employers, I couldn’t entertain them, because the 90 day wait for healthcare would have bankrupted us in medical bills. Her parents certainly were focused on her well-being, and Shelby’s, and more than made up for the times that I couldn’t be there.
It was a thankless job…or so I thought.
This writing? Well, I never knew it existed until Sunday morning. Sarah happened to be at the Afterlife Research and Education Symposium this past week in Arizona. I was doing some housework, and came across an old laptop that Sarah had set out for me to “deal” with a few days prior, after it had sat in a closet collecting dust for years. I cracked it open, blew the dust off of the keys, and started browsing for pictures and documents that might need backed up.
I found the pictures of a backpacking trip I had taken to Yosemite, that I thought I had lost. I found a video of Shelby singing “I’m a little teapot” (which is ridiculously adorable), and some old work pictures. Then I clicked over to the documents folder.
More work stuff. Receipts and forms that needed filled out. But within this clutter of a few dozen documents were two files…”Pre TX Writing” and “Post tx read”. It was Megan’s thoughts, on a computer she had never used to my knowledge, in a location that made no sense given the context of it.
As I was coming across this, Sarah was simultaneously receiving a visit from Drew during a reading. I mean, within a minute or two of each other, we received messages from Megan and Drew, albeit in slightly different formats.
But this message was so much more to me than “I’m good, you don’t have to worry”. The words she wrote were something that I’ve needed to hear from her for years now. I’ve written previously about some of the struggles we were experiencing as a couple in the last year of her life. While we had made progress on becoming better, together, it has always felt that it was left unresolved because her hospitalization and death precluded us progressing any further.
Megan was always a quiet one about her emotions, at least with me. I’m sure it was a learned defense mechanism after dealing with years of friends and her own brother dying, while having to stare her own mortality in the face. It frustrated me to no end, culminating in having a serious “talk” and re-committing to each other about a year before she would be dead. We had about four or five months of time before she would go into organ rejection.
Again, she died. There was still so much unresolved, and un-dealt with. So much pain and bewilderment that it turned into resentment over these past few years. I did everything I could for her for over a decade. I was by her side, watching her wither to nothing so many times over the years that it’s all a blur. I sacrificed everything I knew and ultimately, who I was because I loved her and wanted to protect her.
But it became OVERprotective. It became smothering and needy. I needed affection and emotional support from her as much as she needed medicine brought to her and assistance in getting in the tub.
What I got was distance, after her transplant. I got hours-per-day of her being on Facebook, and minutes per day of her talking to me. She was finally healthy…the worst of it was over…and I felt I was being avoided and unappreciated. After all I had done?
But it was unfair. It was unfair of me to expect that suddenly she would be a “normal” 30-something. All of her adult life, she had been sick. It was who she was, and transplant, while prolonging her life, also removed who she was. She didn’t know how to not be sick. To not wake up every morning with 30 minutes of coughing and another hour of aerosol treatments. To not need nurses and doctors and husbands and parents taking care of her. Just the same, I didn’t know how to not be an overprotective caretaker, doting on her every move, blood oxygen level, and temperature. I had been institutionalized into the role of caretaker. Any talk of her going out with girlfriends or taking a trip somewhere with an aunt or parents was met with anxiety, worry, and frankly, unwarranted mistrust on my part.
I’ve harbored all of this since her death. Sarah nullified that for quite some time, but as she says: “the honeymoon’s over”, and the unresolved nature of Megan and I’s relationship came back in, full force. I have been just as overprotective, needy, and anxious with Sarah as I was with Megan in that last year. With Sarah away for a week, I was left to my own demons, with no one to lean on.
This writing, on an old dusty laptop, from Megan, came to me when I was ready. After years of resenting her death, Megan finally told me that she appreciated everything I had done. That she wished we would have had more time. That she knew that I had given up my very being in devotion to her. Not once, in 9 years of marriage, did Megan ever actually SAY those words to me. Perhaps I wasn’t ready then. I may have just brushed it off, mistrusting that it was sincere, and she was just trying to placate me at the time. She must have somehow pushed Sarah into bringing that old laptop out in the open, waiting for me to open it.
All of that…my actions, my attitude, my anxiety, and the way I projected that onto the woman I loved was my fault. My self-deprecation and constant need for affirmation was my fault. My loss of self, evolving from an outgoing, carefree, friendly person into an overprotective caretaker WASN’T my fault, but staying in that role after it was no longer needed certainly was. Projecting that onto my new partner is not only unfair, but again, totally my fault.
Megan visited me Sunday, out of the blue, and it’s resolved so much in my heart. It’s made me realize that what Megan wanted was the man she fell in love with to come back. She wanted that extra time to let me be the man that I was way back when we met. She wanted me to feel loved, without having to seek it out. She still wants that. It’s why she had such a huge hand in Sarah and I meeting so soon after her death. I think she was pushing me to re-become the person she loved, and though she knew she couldn’t be physically present, she knew the right person that could be.
The fact is, Megan coordinated all of this. She knew exactly where and when she needed to surface, after over a year of silence. She knew Sarah would be visited by Drew at the same time. As skeptic as I may be…this is real.
And it’s resolution. I can finally feel free to be the man I want to be, because Megan appreciated the man I had become for her.
All she wanted was “me” back.