Forever My Starlight! Forever My Wife! Forever My Love With Addison Drake, A Young Widower

WRT 19 | Young Widower

 

How would you face a tragic tale? A story where Snow White finally sleeps and never wakes up. This is a tale where God plucks a beautiful flower and turns her into a star. Addison Drake, a young widower, recounts a heart-wrenching story from the day they meet until God snuffed out his wife’s breath and turned her into his starlight. TikTok became his outlet after the loss because he found none. While most widowers still have their kids or grandkids after losing their spouse, he finds no comfort when his beautiful flower left this world. Tune in to this heartbreaking episode and see how much courage Addison Drake has to swallow the apple of life.

 

How to connect with Addison:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/drakers66

TikTok: @beyondstarlight2021

 

Thank you for viewing this post. I am not a licensed therapist or professional life coach.

I am sharing my experience of loving the same man for 32 years, a mother to two adult children, a retired military officer, a breast cancer survivor, and my connections with others.

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts should reach a suicide hotline or local emergency number in their country.

Watch the episode here

 

Listen to the podcast here

 

Forever My Starlight! Forever My Wife! Forever My Love With Addison Drake, A Young Widower

Welcome to this conversation with Addison. Addison and I met on TikTok. I am looking for the male voice in this conversation and that’s why I reached out to him. Let’s get into this conversation.

 

WRT 19 | Young Widower

 

In this episode, our guest is Addison. It isn’t random. I wanted to have more men to have their voice in this conversation. When I saw Addison was so willing to share his story, it drew me to him to ask him to have this conversation. It may seem random for probably all the people that reach out to him but my desire was intentional to be able to have his voice be part of the widowhood. I am glad that he is here. Welcome, Addison.

Thank you for having me.

Tell us about you. Tell us about your wife. Share, please.

I have been widowed for several years. I’m right in that weird middle. There’s not a specific one. I was technically 29 years old when my wife passed away. She passed a couple of months before my birthday and a little bit after her 30th. We were close together. I’m a normal guy. I work at non-emergency medical transport, which is wheelchair transportation of people from doctor’s appointments and things like that that don’t need ambulatory services. They need transport because most cars don’t fit wheelchair people. That’s a little bit about me as a person. As far as my wife, are you wanting to know how we met?

Yes, and her name.

My wife’s name is Brittany. Brittany Anne is her first and middle name but I referred to her as Starlight. That was her nickname. Only I knew that nickname until after she passed away and then I let it out that that was her nickname. Most of the time, people would hear me call her babe, honey or dear. It was normal pet names. She got that specific nickname from me the day that we first kissed. If I used that name, it was a serious moment. It’s not like, “You’re in trouble,” serious but, “This is an intimate thing and I need you to be paying attention to me,” type of thing.

Before we got to Starlight, we had to have met. How did you and Brittany meet?

Our meeting had to be a God thing because the church that we met at is off the beaten path. There are no big signs that say, “Come to this church. This is our service times.” It is a building on the back of a lady’s property. The church is called The Glory Barn. It’s off the beaten path. Usually, you’re invited out there or you hear about it through maybe Facebook or something. There’s no way of getting out there unless you know it’s there.

I’ve been attending this church for a while. At this time, I was also traveling and speaking as an evangelist. I would be there for a time and then be gone traveling and doing other things and then come back. Interestingly enough, the church only does night services. It’s on Sunday nights only and Wednesday nights. That way, everybody else can go to another church on Sunday morning or other things like that. It’s night service only.

She came in with a friend several months before we connected. At that time, I wasn’t looking for a wife, a girlfriend or any of that. I had put the dating game away from me. I was focused on being a minister and doing those other things. The very first time I met her, she was face down on the ground, having a moment bawling. She was having a church moment. I didn’t think much of it. I pushed a box of attention to her and moved on. I didn’t much care to know her name or anything. She was another churchgoer.

I left the church for a couple of months to do other engagements. I came back one night and she was one of the very first people to greet me. She came up to me and said, “It’s so good to see you.” She hugged me. At that moment, for whatever reason when she said my name, everything else stopped. It was the whole-time-stood-still type of thing but almost in a literal sense. It was almost like everything else faded away for a split second.

A light switch flipped inside of my soul. Something instantly changed within me. I had this overwhelming desire to know who she was. I didn’t have that with anybody else. I didn’t care about anybody else. When she said my name and hugged me, it was like something changed. I did not remember her name and she knew mine. I was like, “I don’t know this lady’s name. What is going on? Who are you? Why do you remember me? I don’t know you.” I am sitting on the front row of this church service, praying in my head the whole time, “Somebody, say her name,” because I want to be smooth with it and be able to say, “I remember you,” but I couldn’t remember her name.

For the whole church service, I’m sitting there pleading in my head, “Somebody, say her name.” At the end of the service, the pastor called her out by name. I was like, “I got a name. It’s Brittany.” I immediately go up to her after service and was like, “Brittany, it was so good to see you again,” thinking I was being smooth about it. She looked me dead in the eyes and went, “You didn’t remember my name, did you?” I was like, “No, I didn’t.”

At least you were honest.

I didn’t deny it. I was caught. I was like, “I can’t make this any worse than it already is,” so I was like, “No.” I’m a genuinely honest person as it is. I don’t keep skeletons in my closet. There was no point in lying. I was like, “I didn’t.” She chuckled about it and we started talking. Apparently, we were both flirting heavily. I’ve never been one of those guys that have been good at relationships. It’s not like I decided, “I’m going to start flirting with this girl,” but I did.

My best friend who was with me at the church service at that time was observing this fiasco from the side. This is how unsmooth I am about it. She apparently tried to give me her phone number at least 2 or 3 times in this conversation and I missed it right over the head. I had no idea. I asked her for her Facebook instead because that’s how awesome I am. I was like, “Can I get your Facebook?” She, for whatever reason, decided yes. I guess I was cute, charming or something. I don’t know what it was but she gave me her Facebook information.

When I was leaving this church, my buddy was like, “Are you going to lay that on any thicker?” I was like, “What are you talking about?” He goes, “Seriously?” I was like, “What?” He goes, “You were flirting so hard that I’m pretty sure the rest of the service, God and everyone knew that you were flirting with her except for you.” I was like, “I was talking to her.” He went, “Talking to her? All right. Sure.” He said, “Did you get her phone number?” I said, “No, but she gave me her Facebook.” He went, “Okay.”

Facebook is public so anybody could have looked that up.

I only knew her first name. I only knew Brittany. I didn’t know what her last name was. It was hard to find that out at the time. She gave her first and last name. I went home that night, found her and added her as a friend. That’s as far as it went for a little bit. I didn’t immediately reach out and start trying to message her and talk to her. It was a little while later. It was May 26th, 2017.

You remember the date.

I’m not that typical husband that doesn’t remember dates and times. I do remember all of the dates that mattered. It was May 26th, 2017. The movie Pirate of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales had come out in theaters. I was going to go see it because I was a huge fan of the franchise. I remembered in this conversation that I had with her that she loved the Pirates of the Caribbean too so I messaged her on Facebook. I was like, “I’m going out to see this movie by myself. Maybe you would like to go. I know that you like Pirates of the Caribbean. We can meet at whatever time.” She sent back, “Sure. Let’s do it.”

We ended up going to see this movie at night. It was one of the later showings. It wasn’t a date. That was not my intention. I was not asking her out on the date. I simply did not want to go to this movie alone. Everybody else had turned me down so I was like, “Let’s ask Brittany if she wants to go.” She had the same intention. We were going to see it as friends from church. There was no hand-holding. I didn’t drift the arm around her or anything in the middle of this date. I went to see this movie. We sat there and enjoyed the movie.

After it was over, it ended around midnight-ish, maybe 11:45. It was a later showing. We both decided we were starving. It was like, “This is late. We’re starving.” I suggested, “Buffalo Wild Wings is open until 2:00 AM or 3:00 AM at this time.” This is pre-pandemic. I don’t know what their hours are at this time. I was like, “Why don’t we go grab some food? That gives us a chance to talk and catch up a little bit more.” At this point, it became a date. That’s where it got.

It sounds like a date to me. I was trying to give you that it was just a movie but then we’re eating wings. I’m thinking we’re on a date.

That was when it became a date. After the date, she even told me that her mother said something very similar to her. She said, “You’re coming in at 2:00 AM. How was your movie with a friend?” She was like, “It became a date.” At that point, it did because we started having first-date conversations. We were getting to know each other and asking questions about family, goals, likes and dislikes. We went through the whole spiel that you usually go on a first date, except for I like to be dramatic, apparently. I like to give a little flare. I don’t know how many guys you know personally that have gotten away with telling their girlfriends that they love them on the first date and not being red-flagged as a creeper, kicked out, thought to be pushy and any of that stuff.

Did you do that, “I love you as a sister in Christ?” How did you package that, “I love you,” part there?

Here’s how this happened. She starts talking about her past and what she’d been through. I found out that she was married at one point and had been divorced within the last couple of years. She didn’t come from a loving background as it were. My family and the home that I grew up with have always been unconditionally loving and accepting. I didn’t lack anything. I never felt disservice by my parents or anything like that. She’s telling me her back history and my poor heart is crushed for her and what she’d gone through.

Her first husband had not physically abused her but emotionally and verbally abused her. He then went out and cheated on her and then served her the papers for the divorce. I don’t know if he blamed it all on her or what. She’s telling me all this and my heart was broken for her. I reached across the table and touched the top of her hand with my fingertips. I didn’t grab her hand. I touched her hand and it got her to stop talking. She looked at me. I said, “Don’t take this the wrong way but I love you. You are worth it. You are perfect the way you are. You are unconditionally loved at this moment right here.”

She was staring at me in my eyes and was like, “Is it weird that I believe you?” I said, “No because if you look at my eyes, you can tell I’m not lying to you.” She didn’t get flustered, break away or run. At that moment, I wasn’t intending for that statement to be like, “Let me get in your pants. Let me take you home. I’m trying to romance you.” I honestly, at that moment, meant that she was entirely loved unconditionally by me no matter what. From that point forward on, it didn’t matter if we were dating or weren’t dating. At least in my eyes, she was who she was and worth it.

There was so much transparency in that first undate-date conversation that you guys had. What were you thinking after you left that date with her?

She was amazing. Honestly, I didn’t understand the draw that I had. It was almost otherworldly if you will. There was something that pulled me to her. At that point, when I left the date, I had her number. It was not a Facebook thing anymore. We had a number. I was like, “This girl’s amazing. I don’t know what it is but I honestly love her in a way that I don’t think that I love other people.”

I’ve always been one of those people who view others in that same unconditional loving aspect when it came to meeting people on the street. I have a genuine love for the person that I meet. I don’t treat you nice because you’re there. I genuinely hope for the best for your well-being. That’s a Christ-like attribute. I got that from being a Christian as long as I have. That is there. To be honest, it has been hindered quite a bit since she passed away. I hit that reclusive wall where my heart died with her so it’s been hard for me to keep that unconditional love out there for others at the moment.

We started talking by text at this point. It was a daily thing. It wasn’t like I texted her and she waited five hours. We started conversing through text messages all day long. It was one week later, on June 2nd, 2017, that we went to a revival or a church event. It was one of those special services. I’m pretty sure it was a Friday. June 2nd, 2017, I believe, was a Friday. This also happened to be the same date that Wonder Woman with Gal Gadot came out. That was the opening night for that.

We went to this church event. It was 10:00 when it ended. It started at 8:00 so it went on for a couple of hours. All of us there were laughing and having a good time. Afterward, I was like, “I’m a night owl. I’m not going to go home. The cinema’s right over there. Wonder Woman came out. Do you want to go see it?” She was like, “Yeah. Let’s go.”

We left her car in the parking lot and I drove her to the movie theater. The first time, it was a friend thing so we drove separately and we met. Here, it was like, “Do you want to go on another date with me? Let’s roll to the movies.” We went and saw Wonder Woman. It was a great movie. I loved it. She loved it. I brought her back to this church parking lot. At this point, it’s probably midnight or a little after. It was another late night.

I will never forget the day because the church that we were at was a little off the beaten path again. If we were looking at the parking lot here, there’s a field on my left. The moon was bright. I don’t know if it was quite full but it was pretty darn close. It was to our right. I parked next to her car. I was getting ready to leave. I had my car door open and I was standing at my door as I was getting ready to sit down. She was on the other side of my car door.

This was the second date. I’m not trying to bust a move. I’m not trying to go home with her or anything. I’m getting ready to leave and she’s standing on the other side of my door. I looked past her briefly and could see the fireflies and the field. It’s one of those that’s out far enough. They’re all over. They’re twinkling. She had crystal blue eyes. Her eyes were the brightest blue. Since she was facing me, the moon was behind me. It was reflected in her eyes. Her eyes looked like starlight.

WRT 19 | Young Widower
Young Widower: Brittany had crystal blue eyes. Her eyes were the brightest blue. When the moon reflected in her eyes, it looked like starlight.

 

While I’m talking to her, she suddenly leaned over the car door and kissed me. It was mid-conversation. It stopped me in my tracks. The last thing I remember before accepting the kiss or before closing my eyes and letting it happen was her eyes. That’s how she got her name Starlight. She kissed me. At that moment, I looked at her and said, “We’re a thing then.” She goes, “We are.” I left giddy and smiling. She left giddy and smiling. That day, June 2nd, 2017 is when it’s registered on Facebook that we started dating. One date, a week later, we were officially a couple.

At this point, in your heart, being a guy, are you thinking, “This woman will be my wife,” or, “I like her a lot.” What are you thinking?

I am thinking, “That’s my wife.” I will be honest with you. The day that she said my name, the switch flipped, was my realization that I’d met her. I waited my entire life for my wife. I had dated two other people before her. I had that very first love you get. That was my first date and that lasted a month or two and we broke up. I dated again a year or so after that. That one lasted maybe two months and that was it. I had been abstinent at this point. I’ve never been with anybody. I was still a virgin. I was holding myself.

I had the belief that God had somebody out there for me whom he knew and had planned in advance this was my wife so I waited. There was that draw or desire. At that moment, I knew, “I’ve met her. This is her.” When we started dating, everything from that point on was like watching a puzzle fall together. It was a very natural relationship that came out of this. There weren’t a lot of things that went wrong. There wasn’t a lot of stress or fighting. It felt like we had been together our entire lives. It was almost like we had known each other from birth. It fell into place like a puzzle from this point on.

God has somebody out there for us who He knew and had planned. Click To Tweet

I would honestly say that the day that I knew that she was my wife was the day that she said my name. That switch flipped in my soul. It was like he was saying, “That one.” Even my pastor, when he talks about how he met his wife and when he knew she was the one, it was when he saw her in school one day. It was high school. She said it was almost like there was a light that enveloped her and he knew. They were married for 50 years before she passed away. She died about a month or so before Brittany did. They were my godparents. They were close to us. I hadn’t even gotten over that death before I lost my wife. That was that moment. I knew in my soul even if my brain hadn’t caught up yet. Inside, I knew that was her.

When we think about getting married to commit ourselves to someone, I can see it as a lot for our brains to catch up. It’s like, “Slow down. We need to make sure of all of these different things. We need to try to check these blocks and make sure that this is the right one.” How long did you guys date before getting married?

We started dating on June 2.

What year was that?

2017. It was June 2nd, 2017. It was probably August or September 2017, right at that time, that there was an issue with her. One of her family members had gotten out of prison. This timeframe is as close as I can remember it. It was before I proposed but it was pretty close to it. It had to have been August or September time.

One of her family members had gotten out of prison and had a violent tendency towards her stepfather and things like that. Her mother’s stepfather and her sister had a trip planned. They were going out of town and they would leave Brittany there alone. She had to work. They were talking about it when I was over there one day. They were concerned about leaving her alone. I said, “I can stay with her for those two weeks while you’re gone. It’s not a big deal. I don’t mind. If that would make you feel better, I can at least stay and help wash the house.” They agreed to it.

I effectively moved in for about two weeks. She was living at her parents’ house. I was still living with my parents. I did not leave my parents’ home until I married her. I was there. I took the Bible verse, “You will leave your father and mother to be joined with your wife,” quite literally apparently because I was home and with them until that point.

I stayed with her for two weeks and it was probably the easiest thing I’ve ever done. We grocery-shopped. We did laundry. We cooked meals. It was effortless. We didn’t have these conflicting personality traits like, “I like this and you don’t. You can’t cook and clean.” It was almost like we had been together already anyways forever. In this two-week moment, I was respectful. I slept on the couch but I took care of her. I had my father loan me one of his firearms to keep in the house in case this guy showed up. They had cameras and stuff too but nothing ever bad ever happened. Her parents came back and I went back home.

It was December 17th, 2017. I took her to the Myriad Gardens in Oklahoma City. This is important. We picked out this ring that she wanted and put a down payment on it. It was an extravagant ring. It was for several grand. I was cool with that. She was cool with that. It was probably about a month or so after that. She knew I was going to propose. We’d already talked about it. She didn’t know when. We had and gone looked at the ring and she picked the one she liked.

About a month after that, I lost my job. It was like, “This ring is going to have to go off the table because whatever I get is not going to pay me as much as I was making, for sure.” The next job I ended up getting was Jimmy John’s sandwich delivery. I was not making the money that I was making before. That was probably one of the hardest phone calls that I’ve ever had to make in my life. It’s stipulated in our culture that the guy needs to be able to put the bill for this expensive ring. Everybody was like, “Look at my ring. It’s so fancy.”

I’m crushed and having a panic attack. Eventually, I finally have the courage. I called her and was like, “After losing my job, there is no way financially we’re getting this ring.” I said, “Would you be opposed to me telling them to take it off hold and then taking what down payment we had and putting it towards another ring?” She said, “That’s fine.” She was okay with that 100%. I was relieved.

I ended up going back to Huntington Fine Jewelers, which is where we got our rings from and told them, “This one’s not going to fly. I lost my job. Here’s my new budget. This is what we’re looking for. Take the down payment off of this one, put it on this next one and we’ll go from there.” The down payment ended up covering most of the next ring anyway. I was only shy of a couple of hundred dollars. It’s the one that I wear around my neck. She got the ring.

We went to the Myriad Botanical Gardens. They had their stuff set up for Christmas time. We were at Christmas. We were getting there. Downtown Oklahoma City’s got decorations. The Botanical Gardens does some Christmas-y stuff. They have a big Christmas tree in the middle of their garden that is made out of potted poinsettias. They make it into this big tree.

I didn’t know where I was going to propose. I simply knew that I was going to. What I trusted was that whenever I see the spot, I will know and I’ll propose. I did my best the whole time to keep my hand out of my pocket because I had the box in there. I don’t know if she suspected this was the day or not. She didn’t get super fancy but she always looked beautiful so it didn’t matter to me.

We go through this garden and we’re walking around. I stumble across this little waterfall in a nook. You had a go around this corner a little bit and there was this little tiny waterfall. I knew it at that moment when I saw it. I said, “This is it. This is the spot.” I pulled out my phone to take a picture of the waterfall. At this point, I was trying to muster the nerves that I’m getting ready to ask this question. At the same time, I’m almost 100% sure she’s going to say yes anyways. I’m not thinking I’m going to get rejected here but it’s still that whole, “You’re about to propose and ask this woman to be your wife.”

I finally got the picture. She, at this point, was like, “Babe.” I was like, “Come here. Check this out and look at this waterfall.” She came around this nook and I had to back up a little bit so she’d get by me. It was a small nook. She looked at the waterfall and when she did, I pulled out the box and dropped to my knee. She turned around and I said, “Will you marry me?” She didn’t hesitate. She said yes. I put the ring on her finger. She loved the new ring. She hadn’t seen this one. She knew what the other one looked like but she didn’t know what the new one looked like. She was like, “Yes.”

I had told her parents that I was going to propose. I had told people, “I’m going to propose. She doesn’t know but I’m going to.” I was traditional. I asked for her father’s permission. She had a father and a stepfather so I asked them both. She didn’t care for their opinion either way but I said, “For tradition, do you mind?” Both of her fathers agreed, “That’s fine. We don’t have a problem with this.”

They had a whole after-proposal small party thing going on at the house that she didn’t know about. I proposed and then we walked around downtown a little bit after that and finished our garden. The Devon Tower in Oklahoma City has these massive red Christmas orbs that they put up. They are like the ornaments that you hang on a tree but they’re huge because this is a massive tower. They stacked eight of them on top of each other. It makes this big thing.

We go over to it and the nails that she had put on that day matched the globe. We had her take a picture. She put her hand with her ring up against the globe. It’s sparkling red in the background with her nails that are maroon and sparkly and then the ring that was glistening. That was one of the announcement photos we sent to Facebook that day. We were like, “We’re engaged now.” This is from June to December 2017. This is how long it took me to propose.

Six months?

Six months.

How do you know that you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody and do that in six months? Was it more of those confirmations? I’ve seen people wait 3 to 5 years. Yours was six months.

I’ve never agreed with that. I’ve never agreed with the people that wait 5 or 6 years. One of my cousins was together with the person for ten before they got married. It’s like, “It’s taking you ten years to figure out this person is it? Are you holding out and hoping that if they have a red flag that shows up, you’re going to, “It’s not for me?”

The purpose of marriage, in my opinion, is when you get married and vow your life to a person. You are vowing your life to a person to grow with them. You’re not going to stay the same. Something is going to change. You’re going to have kids and do life. They’re not going to be the same person that you married fifteen years ago anyways. They’re going to change year by year. They’ll have new interests, hobbies and stresses. When you vow yourself to a person, you are saying, “No matter what happens, I’m with you through it until the end. You change, I change. We change together. We grow, learn and adapt. We become a single unit.” As the Bible says, “We become one creation, one person.”

When you marry and vow your life to someone and grow with them, you will not stay the same. Something will change. Click To Tweet

As we were dating, it was so natural. I’ve had two dating experiences before. It was very forced in some areas and there was a lot of not give and take. It was more take or give. With her, it was a natural progression. It was what you would say what we were meant to be. That’s what it felt like. It felt like you were with that person and were meant to be there. I was solidified in it when we lived together for that two-week time because it didn’t throw things off. It didn’t make it where it was like, “I’m trying to make you like me.” We didn’t change. We lived as we were.

Beyond my TikTok, if you go under my pinned videos, there is a video of her doing a vlog where it was a year after we got married. She talks about how most of the struggles that people have when they first get married like learning to live with another person and all that, we have those. When she moved in on our wedding night, nothing changed. Not a thing changed in our relationship. It was almost like we continued as we had been the whole time.

Honestly, we were probably married in spirit before we were ever physically married as far as how we interacted with each other, loved, cherished and devoted. It seemed like we were getting a piece of paper at the point that we got married. It was like, “I know you’re the one.” She knew that I was the one and we went with that.

You can’t learn everything about a person in six months. In my mind and I would like to say that my wife was of the same accord because we got married, it didn’t matter what we didn’t know was coming. We were convinced we were going to do it together. There weren’t necessarily any signs that came after that. It was the fact of how well we fit together. It was a puzzle. It was being put together piece by piece.

You can't learn everything about a person in six months. Click To Tweet

I want to circle back to the two weeks together. We live in a date and time with the idea of you saying no intimacy before marriage. How did you feel when you both were in agreement with that? Did that make the marriage the relationship better by not focusing on that physical part?

I don’t know if it was not focusing on it. It was at the forefront of both of our minds. I’m a guy. It was at the forefront of my mind. It’s not like it was something where I was this monk that was walking around peacefully thinking, “I won’t sleep with her until we’re married.” There was a constant flux. Especially living together for those two weeks, the opportunity is there. This was two people alone in the house. It’s not like the opportunities weren’t there. It wasn’t that we were not both after each other.

Even in her family, her sister was living with her fiancé for two years before they ended up breaking up. They were sleeping together and all that other stuff. Her mother lived with her stepfather for 8 or 9 before they got married. Her family accepted that. That ended up eventually causing some tension that we were getting married so quickly. It was because her family was like, “Go live with the guy and figure it out. What if you decided a year you were going to break up?” Even her family’s view is, “Go live with the guy. It’s fine. It doesn’t matter.”

For us, because we were Christian, it was like, “We don’t live together before marriage. We don’t do that.” In that two-week period, I didn’t even see that technically as if I’d have felt like I was moving in to stay. I couldn’t have done that. It wouldn’t have set well with me. I felt like it, honestly, was for her protection. This was almost like if I was in a long-distance relationship, which I was the second time where I would go, stay for a couple of days and come home, that was the same thing here. I’m going for a week. I still go to work. I still leave. I’m only technically there alone for about 8 or 9 hours and then I’m sleeping. I didn’t see it as that.

I don’t think that people should live together in a permanent sense prior to marriage. It’s not one of my personal beliefs. I know culturally that doesn’t fly with a lot of people. People will say, “How do you know somebody if you don’t live with them?” That falls back on that you’re promising your life to them. You’re going to learn and grow together. You’re going to become a different unit anyways. What you used to do separately at home when you got married changed because you couldn’t do things separately anymore. It was a team effort. You naturally flow and change into a unit anyways.

Even if you lived together and were like, “I didn’t like that they did this,” or, “I didn’t like that she did that,” naturally, it’s going to flow and change. Somebody’s going to give. Somebody’s going to take. Eventually, you’re going to say, “I like this. We compromised here.” It was a thing. I was 26 when I got married. She turned 26. Her birthday was September 11th, 2017. Mine was January 17th, 2018. She turned 26 and then I turned 26 in January 2018. We got married in March 2018. When I proposed in December 2017, we got married in March 2018. That’s how long our engagement was.

I’m laughing thinking from the first May 29th, 2017 before we even got less than a year, if I’m calculating that correctly.

It is nine months, give or take, a couple of days. I say that May 26th, 2017 was when the first date went on but from the time that we became officially a couple, it was from June 2nd, 2017 to March 3rd, 2018. When we got engaged, I didn’t have a date. I wasn’t planning on March 3rd, 2018. I wasn’t like, “Let’s get engaged,” and then turn right around and get married. We were going to take the traditional route with it. We were going to plan it and maybe give it a year.

At the same time, I didn’t want a big wedding. That wasn’t a big thing to me. She had been married prior. It’s like, “If you don’t want it again, there’s no reason to have it. I don’t need you in a white dress. I don’t need a massive reception with 500 people. I’m here for you. I can get married in the courthouse tomorrow and it’s not going to change the fact that I’m married to you. That’s the whole purpose. It doesn’t matter what we do it as.”

It was February 18th, 2018. We were talking about, “What do we do? Let’s do a date. Let’s hone in on a date. That way, we have an idea of the venue and all this other stuff. How are we going to do it?” We talked to my parents a little bit but we were not consulting people on dates. I’m not going to go ask all of her family members, “What dates are good for you guys? Do you have any prior plans?” I didn’t do it with my family members. We didn’t discuss it with anybody. We were like, “We’re going to pick a date.”

My father gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever had. I will give it to any married couple that ever asks me. He said, “You pick a day. Those that are supposed to be there and matter will be there. End of story.” We both said, “Okay.” That was like, “You need to pick the day. If they’re going to be there, they’re going to be there. If they’re not going to be there, they’re not. It’s your day. You are getting married. It’s for you guys. It’s not for us. We want to be there to celebrate it with you but at the end of the day, it’s you getting married.”

You pick a day for your wedding, and those that matter and are supposed to be there will be there. Click To Tweet

We entered the office that I’m sitting in. We were sitting in this office. I was in this chair. She was in a chair that was over here to my right. We were thinking about it and I was like, “Let’s pray for a day. I’ll pray about it and you pray about it. We’ll then say dates and see how close we get.” We both got March 3rd, 2018. We’re staring at each other. I was like, “You do realize this is February 18th, 2018. We’re talking in a couple of weeks. Are you sure?” She said, “It is March 3rd, 2018.” I was like, “We got to tell people then.” Honestly, if I tell you that I am getting married to somebody in roughly 2, maybe 3 weeks and it’s very sudden, what is your first thought?

Are you inviting me or telling me about it?

I’m asking. I’m inviting you. What is your first thought? Somebody comes up and says they got engaged. All of a sudden, it’s like, “We’re getting married in three weeks.”

I’d be like, “Where are we going? What is going on? I’m so excited for you. It’s Disney World kind of thing the way this has happened so quickly.”

In the Christian community and world, the very first thought is, “Is she pregnant?”

I can see that too but not even in the Christian world. That’s anybody. It’s like, “Are you about to get married because she got knocked up?” That’s fair.

You start jumping that gun.

That’s fair either way. I’m more of a romantic so I lean toward the mushy-mushy but I can see that too.

Those were some of the very first questions I got hounded with by family members. They were like, “ Did you get her pregnant? Is she getting ready to have a baby?” The announcement of it being so quickly derailed a lot of things.

Let’s back up a little bit of reality. That is a fair question for people to ask because it does happen so often. I could see the reality of that. Maybe having all this time together and different stuff like that, I can’t particularly doubt them for asking that question.

I don’t blame them either. I wasn’t mad at them but that’s where the question started. It’s a very quick turnaround. When we started talking about getting married, we started looking at apartments. Before we were engaged, we were like, “We hadn’t set a day yet but what kind of apartment are we looking at?” She had two dogs to bring in so I’m restricted on I got to have an apartment that accepts pets. They can’t have a weight limit on them because they’re two different sizes. There were things we had to start looking at. A lot of this, we already started looking at prior to us setting the date anyways.

When we set the couple-of-weeks-out date, a lot of things we already knew. A venue, we already had it. Our church, they offered it to us for free. My pastor’s the godfather. He was like, “The church is yours.” I didn’t have to look at a venue. We decided on no reception. I don’t want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on food and all this other stuff. I’m pretty sure our entire wedding cost us between $300 and $600 in total. Most of that cost came from clothing like her getting a dress and making sure I had a suit that fit.

Her uncle even gave me the pair of shoes that I used. It was sitting in the closet. They were never used. They were still shiny and new. He was like, “Here, see if these fit you. Congratulations. You have a pair of dress shoes.” When we announced this thing, the way that it fell together, that almost was no cost to us. My church offered the venue. One of the event planners at our church did it for free. They provided all the decorations, the candles and the communion cups we used. We didn’t have to worry about any of that.

What things we bought were some of the small things that she wanted from Amazon, which were the dresses. She came down the aisle in a silver dress. She didn’t even go wedding dress shopping. She went dress shopping and went to a bargain place. She spent $130 on the dress. It wasn’t even a big thing but it was beautiful. I loved the dress. It didn’t need to be white for me.

When we decided, “Let’s start telling people,” backlash started pretty quickly. Some of it was a disappointment from families that couldn’t be there. They were like, “I have obligations,” and we understood that. We gave everybody the same amount of notice. Nobody got favored. I didn’t tell my parents three weeks prior to telling her parents. We told everybody pretty much the same day or the very next day.

My parents, as soon as we told them, “We’re getting married on March 3rd, 2018,” my mother looked at my dad and said, “Do we have a trip planned that day?” He goes, “I think so. Let me go check the calendar.” He looked at it and they canceled and said, “We’re going to be there. You’re getting married.” They pushed everything else aside. Other family members, because of obligations, couldn’t be there. It wasn’t a big deal. It did not matter to me but it did to her family.

It caused a big falling out to the point that she got kicked out of her home two weeks before we got married. They kicked her to the curb. They were like, “No.” She ended up living with her aunt and uncle for those last two weeks while I’m getting an apartment set up. If we’re getting ready to get married, we’re not moving in together. She’s not coming to the apartment early. None of that stuff is happening. We are sticking to that vow, that gun.

A lot of people ask, especially on TikTok, “Why didn’t you let her move in with you?” First off, I was still living with my parents. I hadn’t even got the apartment finalized. I hadn’t moved everything out yet. My parents aren’t going to let us live together. They said, “She can come to stay for the night if she needs to but she is not staying here with you,” so we found her a place with her aunt and uncle.

We got the apartment. I had the apartment a week before we got married. I moved from my parents’ house into that apartment for that week and nested. She thought it was adorable. She came over a couple of times. She brought the dogs to let them see the new place and get them acclimated and to help do some decorating. She never stayed the night. She always went home.

She would come in and giggle at me. She goes, “You’re nesting.” I was like, “I’m what?” She goes, “You’re nesting. This is adorable.” I had the couches set and the lights set. I vacuumed. Everything was set. I kept asking her, “Do you want it here? Do you want it there?” I was a little busy hen, running around making sure everything was good and nesting. When it came time for the wedding, four of her family members showed up. It was her aunt, her uncle and her grandparents.

That was the aunt and uncle she had been living with?

Yes and her grandparents. Everybody else was either on the trip that they were planning or because of how things went and things got heated, they didn’t come. That continued into our marriage for the first six months. When we got married, she was ostracized from her family. She worked with her mother so she lost her job almost immediately after the marriage.

She was dealing with school and started having trouble there. She was dealing with grief. When you talk about somebody having a rocky start, we went from being in this perfect bliss of, “We’re getting ready to get married,” and as soon as we got married, it was like you threw everything that could go wrong at us in one moment.

Our entire marriage, up until about 2 or 3 months before she died, was an uphill climb. We didn’t have a beautiful, peaceful marriage. We had a hell of a marriage. We didn’t argue and fight per se but the amount of life that happened so quickly with her losing her job, her dealing with the stuff with her family and then having to try to rebuild that relationship. She had a wreck and lost her car. I ended up getting hurt and was put out of work for an entire year because of a knee injury.

She was single-income in the home for a whole year. We were always curious why did she lose the car but because she lost the car, we got $10,000 in coverage from insurance. It was because it was a newer vehicle. That $10,000 kept us afloat for the year I was off work. I’m not working. I’m not making money. She’s single-income. That savings account, we drained it over the year. That put a strain on her.

She ended up having to find a new job. It was apartment leasing and managing. I love her soul but she’s not a manager. She’s not mean enough. She didn’t have a mean bone in her body. To be a manager, there are times when you have to be stern, firm and stand by policy. She couldn’t do it. She’s too kindhearted. She didn’t want to have to evict people. They’re having a hard time. The policy says no but she wanted to say yes. It was constantly tearing at her soul.

WRT 19 | Young Widower
Young Widower: Brittany didn’t have a mean bone to be a manager. Sometimes you should be stern, firm, and stand by policy, and she couldn’t do it. She’s too kind-hearted.

 

Plus, coming home to a husband that can’t work at the moment. I’m still doing stuff around the house. I’m still cooking, cleaning and all of that. That was my role. I pretty much was Mr. Mom. In our whole marriage, I’m the cook, the clean and the laundry guy. She helped out and did some things around the house but for the most part, that was me. That’s because I was raised that way. I’m the cook. I had chores. I had responsibilities. I brought that with me into my marriage.

I wasn’t the typical guy that everybody talks about when they make fun of it on TikTok. They’re like, “You take super hot showers. He takes super cold showers,” or, “He won’t pick up here but you will.” It was honestly reversed. I loved super hot showers. She did not. I was the one that was cooking and cleaning. She didn’t know how to cook. It was things like that. She cooked very select few things but as far as making meal plans and doing all that, that was me. I did all that.

What was one of your favorite dishes to make for Brittany or that she liked?

The one that I would make when it was like, “I really love you today,” is I always made her surf and turf. I would go to the store, buy a New York strip and get some bay scallops and stuff. I never told her I was doing any of this because I got home from work before she did. One of the things that I loved the most was cooking for her and making sure that when she walked in the door, it was hot and ready.

We used an app called Life 360 to track each other. It wasn’t nefarious like, “I don’t trust you.” It was if you’re ever in danger, the app lets me know where you’re at. Plus, if you’re coming home from work and you say, “I’m on my way,” I can use the app and say, “You’re twenty minutes out, I need to put this in the oven.” We eventually got my whole family on the app so all of us can see where everybody is at any given moment. If there’s an issue, we can find you.

I loved to cook for her. That was a passion of mine. I enjoyed cooking. She put on 30 or 40 pounds after we got married because I was cooking for her. I didn’t believe in this lean, healthy green stuff. I’m a Southern guy so she’s getting biscuits, mac and cheese, gravy and all of those. We’re cooking. My favorite meal was surf and turf. I’d do a New York strip and bay scallops. I would do asparagus with garlic and mashed potatoes. I would check this 360 app so that when I saw that she was coming home, I would plate it and set it on the table. When she opened the door, it was there and ready to go. It was like restaurant service. It’s there. The glass of wine is full. All she had to do was drop her purse, take off her shoes, sit down and eat.

That is a dream.

That was every single day. It didn’t matter what I was cooking. It was either ready when she walked in the door or by the time she took off her shoes and changed into something comfy. It was plated on the table all ready for her to eat wherever we were going to eat that day. That was a passion of mine. I loved cooking for her to the point that when she died, I don’t cook anymore. Rarely do I cook things. I eat out of cans, out of bags, anything that’s a pop-me-in-the-microwave or heat-me-up-in-a pot or if my family asks me. I’m over here and we’re going to do Mexican. I’m doing the grilling of the chicken, the seasoning and stuff like that. For the most part, by and large, I do not touch the kitchen anymore. I lost that passion when she died.

Did you cook much before you dated Brittany? Was cooking a thing for you?

Yes. I taught myself how to cook. When I was younger, I would experiment in the kitchen. My mother planned our meals so we knew exactly what we were having every day of the week. Her grocery day was on a Friday or a Saturday. She would say, “Groceries are tomorrow. I need five options for dinner.” We would have five dinner days, one day of leftovers and one day of eating out. That was how the budget worked. That’s how it worked.

She had a list of things that we had made. We would say, “Let’s do these five dishes.” When she got groceries and would come home, then the idea was all you have to do is say, “Tomorrow night, we’re having spaghetti,” and she would take whatever out. We knew what five we were having. We didn’t know what day we were having the five. We got to pick and choose.

I knew then what was in the kitchen that was reserved and what was fair game. I would start experimenting with lunch meats and things like that or what seasonings work. I made some atrocious dishes when I was younger but as time went on, I started understanding what spices taste like, what mixes, what does this and what does that.

I started working in industries like that. One of my very first jobs was working in a senior living home, like a nursing home, in the kitchen area. It was a waitstaff dishwasher but at the same time, I got to help the cooks. I had the old Black lady teaching me how to make collard greens and the other person teaching me, “This is how you make a proper hamburger patty with the right seasoning.” I absorbed that as time went on. I was even a manager of a pizzeria at one point. I worked at PayWay at one point so I’ve got PayWay or recipes memorized. I can make Chinese food at home from scratch. I know how to do it. I’d know what sauces go where.

All of this, I absorbed before we got married. When she married me, she effectively had a cook. All she had to do was say, “I want chicken.” I’m like, “Do you have a preference? Hot, spicy or sweet?” She’s like, “Let’s do sweet.” I’m like, “Okay.” That’s all she had to say. I was like, “This is what we got. This is what we’re having. What sides do you want with it? What do you want? What are you feeling?” That’s all. She would also say, “Surprise me,” so I would open the pantry and make a dish.

She hated that and loved it at the same time because she didn’t understand how I did it. She wanted to cook. She tried. She did the dishes. She never destroyed a dish per se, except for that one time that she served me sweet spaghetti. That was interesting. She heard that she should put a little sugar in the tomato sauce to cut the acidity down. It’s an accurate statement but it is a little sugar. It’s a pinch or maybe a little bit more to help cut the acidity down. It is not 1/4 of a cup of sugar or however much she put in there.

When she served the spaghetti and I ate it, it was a little sweet. I didn’t say anything. She was like, “This tastes sweet to me. It’s weird.” I’m a good husband. I ate the food. I ate it all. I put the whole thing away. It was fine but she never understood. She was like, “I don’t get it.” I was like, “You don’t get what?” She goes, “How do you walk in, open the pantry up, glance around for a couple of seconds and make this?” I was like, “Practice. I learned what things went with that.” I loved to make surf and turf. I loved to make mac and cheese for her. I would do a bacon mac and cheese that we would bake. I would take those goldfish crackers. They call them extreme flavoring. I crush those up in a bag, sprinkle them across the top and bake them.

You had me at bacon. When you said bacon and mac and cheese, I didn’t hear anything else. I heard bacon and mac and cheese.

I’d cook the bacon separately, then mix it into the mac and cheese, put that in a pan and then bake that thing. She loved pasta so I would make homemade carbonara. That’s not American carbonara. It’s Italian so I use egg yolks and parmesan. It’s not what you would see in a standard, typical American Olive Garden carbonara. I would make the real stuff. It depended on whatever it took to make her happy. It didn’t matter what it was. It didn’t matter if she was craving sushi. I either made sushi fresh at the house or we went out that night and went for sushi. That was one of her favorite meals. If she was craving Jimmy John’s, we had Jimmy John’s. It’s whatever she wanted that made her happy.

I had this mentality for the longest time that it’s not about me. I oftentimes, to some detriment and some benefit, put myself on the back burner. It was like, “It’s not about me. My feelings are valid but I’m not going to overbear you with my stuff,” type of thing. That was the marriage that I lived in. I lived to serve my wife. Being married to me was a dream. If you talk to a child, a college kid or a high school kid and say, “What are your dreams,” they’re going to list off, “I want to be a banker, a blue-collar guy like my dad a billionaire or a fireman.” That’s the typical response that you get. I wanted to be a husband. That was my dream. That was it. That is as far as the goals in my life went. It stopped at husband.

At that point, whatever we decided to do as a family, it was serving her. If she wanted us to move to Texas and live on a farm, I’m going to learn how to farm. I’m going to learn how to be a rancher. I’m going to find out how to make the money and get us there. That was it. When she died, I didn’t just lose my wife but I lost everything. I lost my dreams, hopes, future and plans. It died with her. For 1 year and 4 months, it hasn’t gone anywhere.

You go to counseling. You go to therapy. They’re like, “You need to find a goal and a dream.” I don’t have one necessarily. I can’t find one because it’s gone. From the time I was thirteen, I wanted to be a husband. Maybe it was because I grew up in a home where my father was loving, kind and caring. I watched how he loved my mother and how things went well in the home.

My entire family, I’m pretty sure, has only had two divorces. One of them was a cousin and the other one was my brother. That’s because he got on drugs badly. His wife left him because he was dragging them down to a hole. For the most part, my parents are happily married. My grandparents are happily married. I grew up seeing people who were devoted and dedicated to their wives. To me, that was the prime of life. It is being with somebody to do a partnership with for life. No matter what came, no matter what hardships, thick or thin, children or no children, that was the goal.

I am honored that you would share that. That is a dream. Are you comfortable with sharing about how Brittany passed?

Yeah. That’s fine. She ended up passing from COVID or complications from COVID. The year she passed back in May 2021, we had our only big disagreement. When we were married, we never screamed at each other, slammed doors or had silent treatments. That never happened in our home. It was something that was made evident on the first day. It was, “We’re not going to do this. If we have a disagreement, let’s have a disagreement. Let’s be adults about it and talk. We’re not screaming, degrading, slamming doors and having silent treatments. That’s not going to happen in our home. If we’re upset or angry, then let’s step away for a minute but we’re coming back and finishing that discussion that day.”

I don’t want to be the horror stories where you hear about people that ran off and they screamed and slammed the doors. Even in an apartment complex, you hear that all around you. I didn’t want to be that. I refused. One of my favorite phrases I have learned to live by was from a wonderful pastor that I follow. He said, “It takes 2 to tango but only 1 to pursue peace.” If you’re both willing to argue and fight, it takes two to tango. If one of you is always pursuing peace, there is no fight because there is no contention.

It takes two to tango if you're arguing, fighting, and willing to argue and fight. But if one person is always pursuing peace, there is no fight because there is no contention. Click To Tweet

I made it my goal to be the one that always pursued peace. Even if I was upset or angry, I wasn’t going to let it go too far. I failed at that one time. I said something out of pocket. I knew as soon as I said it that what I had done was out of pocket. It hurt her badly. I had left to go to the store for something and came back. When I came back in, she had packed a bag. She walked by me and said, “I’m leaving for the night.” I was in tears. I was broken because I knew and understood.

I didn’t try to stop her. I didn’t argue with her. I said, “I understand. There is only one request that I have if you would honor that for me. Text me and let me know you’re safe. I don’t need to know where you are.” She turned the tracker off on her phone. She left me for a night and disappeared. I said, “Let me know you’re safe.” About 11:30 or so that night, she texted me and said, “I’m safe. I’m secure for the night. You hurt me badly. I will talk to you tomorrow.” I understood. I agreed.

The guy who married us was one of our mentors. We ended up meeting at his house the next day for a home church session. He set us down for about an hour and a half and talked to us afterward. He told me I was a knucklehead and I agreed. He also told her she was a knucklehead and she agreed. It was a thing that needed to be worked out and it was. At that moment, our marriage went on an uphill climb. That culminated all of those years of this junk we’d been under and it broke at the head right there. We fixed it and then after that, we’ve had this uphill climb.

We went on a trip to Medicine Park, Oklahoma in July 2021 to go see the otters at the museum. She loved otters. It’s her favorite animal. When we came back, I want to say about a week later, she started having a lot of back problems. She was in pain. Her legs were burning. We don’t know what happened. I don’t know when we were climbing around on the rocks if she twisted something. We didn’t know. It kept getting worse to the point that she ended up on a walker and bedbound. She could barely get around the house without the assistance of a walker and was bedridden. She was going to chiropractors and then trying to get in to see a back specialist. We were like, “We got to find out what’s going on.”

She can’t even go to work. She can’t drive. She’s struggling. This is not in the wrong way but I loved those moments because those were the moments I got to take care of her. That’s what I loved the most. It was caring for my wife. Having to wait on her hand and foot didn’t matter to me. I was there, hand and foot. It didn’t matter if she called me. If she woke up in the middle of the night, winced, hurt and in pain, I was at her side. It didn’t matter.

She finally got in to see a doctor or was getting in to see a doctor but they required an MRI prior. That way, once we got there, we already knew what was happening. Here in Oklahoma City, there’s a hospital called St. Anthony. I don’t know what you would call them but they were the smaller versions of the big hospitals. They call them Healthplexes or something like that. They have an MRI set up there so we went to get this MRI done. When she finished, we were supposed to go back home. The MRI tech ran out and said, “There was something wrong with the image. I may need to retake the thing. Can you hang out for a second?” We were like, “Sure.”

About five minutes later, the same MRI tech opens the door and waves us into the back. We’re thinking, “She’s going to have to redo whatever image is wrong.” They were waiting with a wheelchair for her. She goes, “There’s something on your MRI. I cannot tell you what it is but you need to go to the emergency room right now.” I put her in the wheelchair and wheeled to the emergency room. They get her in the bed, get her set up and start an IV. The doctor was in the room in five minutes. That’s pretty quick.

If you’ve ever been in an ER, usually, a nurse comes in and you’re there for a minute and the doctor comes in. He was in there within five minutes. He said, “Your MRI shows that you have a bulging disc that is pressing on the cluster of nerves in your lower spine. If you move wrong, you could lose your legs. This is a medical emergency. We are recommending that you go downtown to the main hospital. We’ll set you up for emergency neurosurgery. We’ll take care of the disc and get it where you’re not in danger.” I go, “That’s a big announcement. I’m freaking out here. Let’s do it.” He said, “You can go home but it will probably take you six months to get in to see somebody. If something goes wrong, you will lose your legs.” We both agreed, “We got to get this done.”

I stepped out of the hospital room to make phone calls to family and let them know, “This is what’s happening.” I stepped back into the hospital room. The doctor walked in and said, “If you leave again, you’re not allowed back in here.” I said, “What’s going on?” He said, “She’s COVID-positive.” I was like, “What are you talking about? She’s been bedridden at home for three weeks. She has no symptoms. She’s not even sniffling.” He said, “The tests came back positive.” I said, “Retest her.” They retested her and she was COVID-positive.

At this point, it was 2021. It was the heat of the pandemic. Protocols are in place. If I walk out of the room, I can’t come back. I said, “What are you telling me then? Are you telling me when you take her downtown, I can’t see her again?” He said, “Yes. When the ambulance gets here to take her downtown, you will say goodbye and not see her again.”

She’s freaking out because she has never had a major surgery and she’s going to have to do it alone, isolated in a room. We were both pretty upset. She’s panicking and scared. Eventually, the ambulance shows up. They put her on the cot and take her away. I had to watch my wife go away. At this point, like everybody else, I couldn’t go see her. I had to rely on Zoom meetings, phone calls and text messages to keep up-to-date.

Pushing the story ahead, she ends up having this back surgery. She is still asymptomatic for COVID but positive. After the back surgery, they’re holding her there for a day to make sure. She was supposed to be an outpatient but they ended up holding her for one day or something like that. The doctor was reluctant to let her go because she had COVID. I said, “You get two options. Either you could bring her down to me or I would break your protocol and come get her me. She’s coming home. This is an outpatient surgery. We’re done with this. She’s got no symptoms. She is coming home.” He finally was like, “I get it.”

She was released and we picked her up. At this time, I started feeling bad. I was not doing so great. I was starting to run a small fever. I was feeling under the weather. I wasn’t doing good. I knew that after that type of surgery, she was going to need care at least until she was up and moving better. I asked my parents, “Can she come live with you guys until I get over the sickness? I’ll then bring her back home and take care of her.”

I ended up getting full-blown COVID. I had a 104-degree fever and oxygen in the toilet. I refused to go to the hospital. I dealt with it at my house. I fought through it. It was horrible. It was the worst sickness I’ve ever had in my life. I’m not a fan. I’ve had it three times. The first time was the worst. The third time was a pretty close second. It was awful.

While she was staying at my parents’ house, I got constant updates on her and everything. She had started coughing a little bit and was nauseated. I don’t know if that was from surgery meds or if she was starting to feel COVID symptoms. On a Sunday, we got a call from my mom. She said, “I’m sorry but they had to take her.” I asked and it was to the hospital. I said, “Why?” She was acting funny and her speech was a little slurred. She was panting. She said, “I sent your dad to get a pulse ox from Walgreens. We came back and put it on her finger and her oxygen count was at 35%.” Overnight, it was a drastic change.

We called 911 and they’re even going, “That’s probably not accurate. If it’s a 35, she’s not going to be talking, awake or alert.” They sent an ambulance out. They hooked her up to their machine. It was 35%. She was still functioning and talking. They’re going, “Wow.” They were hooking her up on oxygen and getting her to the hospital. She still was technically with us on the fourteenth day of COVID. She’s still isolated from me. I can’t get there to her. I can’t be there.

They held her in the ER for a while and then they finally came back and said that she had bilateral pneumonia in both lungs. She was going to be admitted and was going to have to stay until it was over. I admitted her to the hospital. She was there for six days and then they finally let her have visitors. She had tested positive for COVID at St. Anthony fourteen days prior to the start of this before she had surgery. She had that week and then she was in the hospital for 4, 5 or 6 days. At that point, they said, “You’ve made your fourteen-day period. You can have visitors.” I was ecstatic. I was there within an hour as soon as they alerted me that she could have visitors.

She seemed to be doing okay. They had her on a nasal cannula with high oxygen flow. Her oxygen was up there. It was in the high 80s, almost 90s. She was doing okay and talking to me. I visited that day and then left at 8:30 that evening. I got a call at 9:00 from her telling me they were moving her to the ICU. I said, “Why? I was there. You’re fine.” She said, “I don’t know. The doctor came in and said. You’re being moved to the ICU for observation” and walked out. I don’t even know what’s going on so I am calling nurses and I’m like, “You get this doctor to call me now. Tell me why my wife is being moved. What is going on? I was there. She seemed fine.”

The doctor already left for the day. I announced it and he went home. He was done for the day. I couldn’t get any answers until the next morning. The next morning, bright and early, I’m at the hospital in the ICU with her. I said, “You can tell me what’s going on.” He pulled me out of the room and said, “Your wife has developed ARDS.”

ARDS is Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome also known as wet lung. It’s fatal most of the time because there’s no treatment for it. Your lungs are drowning yourself is what’s happening. The air sacs in your lungs are filled with fluid to the point you can’t oxygenate your body. It is what most people that had COVID get. They developed ARDS.

He said, “While she’s okay now, there is a strong chance that she will have to be intubated. If she’s on a normal floor, it will take me much longer to intubate her because I have to bring her here first. We brought her here early for observation in case of a worst-case scenario.” I didn’t tell her she had ARDS. I told her, “It’s an observation because of lung problems. They’re making sure.”

Three days later, she was intubated and I missed it. I had to go to a cardiologist’s appointment. I had an incident a month or so before we got all this started happening. They thought it was a heart attack and it wasn’t. They set me up with a cardiologist to figure out what was going on. I had this appointment and I needed to go set up the initial appointment. She was having a pretty crappy day. They had her on BiPap and oxygen. She was on her stomach and not doing so great.

I went to the doctor’s office. As I was leaving, my phone rang and it was her. She can’t talk on the phone because of the face stuff. I’m going, “What is going on?” I pick up the phone and it’s her nurse. She says, “I’ve got to intubate her. I’m sorry. She’s sitting at 70% and getting lower. I don’t have a choice.” I was like, “I am in Midwest City. I am fifteen minutes out. Can you wait?” She goes, “I will wait as long as I can.”

I am flying 100 miles an hour with hazards on the road. There was traffic. I’m delayed. I pull into this hospital. I run up to the next floor. I round the corner and as soon as I hit my wife’s room, they’re shoving a tube down her throat. I didn’t make it while she was conscious. I never heard her voice again after that. Her uncle and her aunt were there. They were there when they put her under. The last thing I got to talk to her on the phone when the nurse called me was I told her that I loved her and they were doing what was best for her. I told her, “I will be right back as soon as I can.” The nurse said that she said, “I love you too,” but I never got to hear her voice.

I showed up and see them doing this. It’s not a pretty sight. You don’t want to see it if it’s happening. They have to paralyze you and put you under. You look like a corpse. You’re lying there and you’re out. To me, it looked as if I was staring at a dead body. I’ve worked for a mortuary before so I know what a dead body looks like. I see this and I snapped in the middle of the hallway. I was trying to get in the room. I was like, “That’s my wife.” They were trying to keep me out. Her uncle ended up having to grab me and take me away.

I was sobbing because all the horror stories you hear about COVID are once they’re ventilated, they don’t come off. I’m trying to maintain faith and, at the same time, my composure. The doctors end up coming out. They were talking to us and letting us know how serious the situation is and how bad off she is. One of the things that happened at this moment is the nurse came out that was taking care of her and handed me her wedding ring and her cell phone.

I have since then, on TikTok, talked to the nurses. I put videos out where I say, “If you have to take the wedding ring off somebody’s hand, let them do it. Offer for the husband to do it because I put it on her hand as a promise. It was not your position to take it off. If it needs to come off, I understand that but let me pull it off.” I’ve had a lot of nurses have positive responses to that saying from here on out, if they can and they have the ability to, they will ask the spouse to remove the ring. You put it on my hand. I put it on yours. Don’t take a ring off. At this point, I’m already afraid she’s dying and you’re handing me her wedding ring.

 

 

She was in that hospital with COVID for 40 days and 40 nights. I got a call from the nurse that was watching her the night she passed away. She said, “She’s not doing good. Her oxygen’s in the 50s and it’s not coming back up. She’s not going to make it.” The protocol for the hospital is at nighttime, only one person is allowed in the room. You have to be in before 7:00 because they lock the door.

It was 10:30 or 11:00 at night when I was getting this phone call. I’m like, “Can I come now? Will they let me in?” She said, “Yes. You inform the desk that we’ve called you and told you that your wife is passing and you need to come in. They’ll call us and confirm and we’ll let you in.” I said, “I know it’s against protocol but can I have my mother with me? I don’t want to be alone.” They allowed it.

I get to her room. When they gave me her wedding ring, I had this cute idea. I took the ring back to the jeweler and I had it restored to its original look. All the dents and stuff were taken off. I had them clean it and restore it. She had this moment where she was getting better and then she got pneumonia again a second time. She couldn’t fight through it. We were supposed to go to rehab and then all of a sudden, she tanked and never came back.

I was going to have this ring all clean. What I was going to do was whenever she was awake and alert enough to be able to understand me, I was going to re-propose while she was in the hospital room. It was to say, “Even in all of this, I’m still your husband and I still want you to be my wife.” I was going to be on one knee and ask her, “Will you marry me again,” and be cute about it.

I pulled her ring out of my safe and took it with me. I put it back on her hand because if she was going to die, she was going to die married to me. I was there most of the evening, waiting, watching her oxygen and stuff fluctuate and watching the numbers do what they were doing. I was trying to decide, “Is this the moment we need to move to comfort care?” It is where you turn the machine off and let them die. I’m waiting and trying to figure this out.

The X-ray tech comes in to take the morning X-ray of her lungs to see what we’re looking at. I watched him do it and I watched the pictures go up on the screen. They were worse than they were on day one. I knew she wasn’t coming back. The X-ray tech left the room. I called the nurse in and said, “We’re moving to comfort care today, right now.” She said, “I’ll have to call the doctor because he doesn’t usually come in until 8:00 or so.” I looked up and said, “You won’t have to call him. You won’t have to go very far. He’s standing at the desk.” The doctor even came in early. He heard she was critical so he came in early.

She goes out and talks to him. He comes in holding the yellow DNR slip. He says, “I need you to sign this.” He had discussed it with us earlier that day. When she was wishy-washy, he said, “We’ve come to the point where there’s not a whole lot else we can do to help her. She’s either going to survive it on her own or she’s not. Either you’re going to sign a DNR or I will medically deem it necessary.” That was one of the last conversations I had. He was a very nice man. He was empathetic. He wasn’t cold or anything. He came in. My mother was in the room observing all this. She said, “You could tell that he didn’t want to hand you that paper.” Even he was holding onto out hope. She was 30.

He hands me this paper and I grabbed a pen to get ready to start signing it. He says, “You can take a minute. Sit.” I said, “If I don’t, I won’t.” I had to officially sign my wife’s life away stating that when her heart stops, they won’t bring her back. I said, “Let’s go ahead and do it now.” He starts talking about, “We need to call the family and all this other stuff.” I said, “She didn’t want her family here to begin with. She did not want any visitors. It was not part of the plan. I’ve not been able to stop it. It needs to be done.” He said, “I will tell you that most of the time, death brings family closure together. We need to wait for the family.”

I relented and made a phone call to her aunt and uncle who were supposed to be leaving to go on a trip. I said, “Don’t leave. She’s not going to make it. Will you tell her family?” I then started calling mine. The plan was to have everybody in the room at 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning, which is what we set the time before. It was about 5:30 or 5:35.

As soon as the doctor left the room, I turned into a mess. I was a hysterical, broken mess. I didn’t care who heard me. I didn’t care what was happening in the other rooms. I cried so hard. I was making myself sick and vomiting because I’m losing it. It wasn’t just her. I was losing everything. A lot of people will say things like, “That’s my wife. She’s the most important thing to me.” That was my entire world laying in that bed. I went to the point where I had to sit in a little recliner, put a cold rag on my head and lean back because I was probably going to pass out if I didn’t stop.

What they do when they do comfort care, if you have never been in that situation, is they have to take the paralytic off so that you start to try to breathe on your own. That way, when they cut the machine off, it’s not like you’re paralyzed and you die. It’s supposed to be a natural death. Your body is going to out on its own.

We set the time for 7:00 or 8:00 because it was supposed to take two hours for the paralytic to get out of her system. They turned the paralytic off and I’m having this crying conniption fit. I noticed that her oxygen is changing on its own. The ventilator is showing signs that she’s trying to fight it. In other words, the paralytic is already gone. She’d been on it for so long that it was like she was building a tolerance anyways. When they killed it, it left pretty fast. We’re talking for fifteen minutes.

I don’t know medically what you want to call it. She’s out cold. I’ve had people tell me both ways that they can hear or they can’t hear and they’re not aware or they are aware. I’m almost 100% sure she could hear me crying. She was fighting so hard. You could see it. You could see the way her back was. She was fighting to breathe. There was something that came over me in that moment. It was peace. It was almost like my emotions shut off entirely. I was this calm, collected person.

I stood up, walked around and grabbed her by her hand. She was lying face down. They had her in what looked like swimmers. I grabbed her hand and started reminding her of how she got her nickname, recounting that first kiss. I was telling her that I was proud of her, that she was the strongest woman I’ve ever known and that she fought for 40 days and 40 nights. I was telling her if she was ready to go home and be with Jesus, that was her choice. I said, “To walk out, you need a miracle and that’s between you and him. I can’t do anything.” I told her how much I loved her. I talked with her and then I started singing her favorite worship song.

I watched her oxygen drop from 50% to 8% with the machine still breathing and all the medicines still in her. It was like she was stopping everything herself. She was ready to go. I watched her heart rate fall to 25%. Every machine and all the medicines were still running. She was going off her accord. I’ve never wanted to hit medical staff so hard in my life than when that nurse walked in with adrenaline to hang. It was because they wanted to keep her heart going until the family got there so that everybody could be there when she passed. I honestly wanted to punch the nurse in the face.

 

 

I still remember the rage that I felt when I saw them come in with that bag because I asked. The green bag was paralytic. It was always because it got to be out of light. She said, “This is adrenaline to keep her heart going.” I was like looking up at her and her heart rate’s at 25% and her oxygen’s at 8%. I said, “Don’t you dare. She’s ready to go. She’s leaving.”

I sang over her a little longer and it kept staying in the same area. Finally, I opened the door, stepped out to the doctor and said, “She’s at 25% heart rate and barely any oxygen. Can we kill the machines and be done?” He looked at me and goes, “You have a lovely singing voice. It won’t be long. Go sing.” I went back in and the last thing I sang was Amazing Grace or something like that. It was generic.

I had my head pressed against her back so I could hear her heart. I listened to it stop. The monitor started screeching. The nurse walked in, put on the stethoscope and pronounced that she had died. They turned the machines off. I stayed in that hospital room with her for another hour or so. Some people showed up to say goodbye.

I thought that I was okay to leave until it came time to leave because I was cold and calm. I picked up my bag to leave and shattered like glass. It was because I knew that as soon as I leave that room, I would never kiss anyone ever again. I would never remarry. My entire world is ending. I’m about to leave the one thing that I care about. I put my bag back down, picked her up and kissed her face. I kissed her on the lips. I held her body close. I cried more. I finally gritted my teeth as hard as I could clinch, picked up my bag and walked. Every step wasn’t a turn. I was leaving behind everything I cared about. I put my heart in her hands and she took it with her to her grave.

Every step was a deterrent when leaving behind everything you cared about. Click To Tweet

We set up the funeral. The day after Thanksgiving was her funeral. I spoke at her service. I was the very first person that spoke outside of the minister. Everybody hated me at that point. They blamed me for her death. They blamed me for COVID and everything. They blamed me for keeping family and friends away because that’s what she wanted. I was the bad guy and that’s fine. I didn’t care. That’s why I chose to speak first. If I’m already going to be the bad guy, then I will recount to you how she died.

At her funeral, I spoke first and retold the same story you heard because they didn’t make it. They heard exactly how she passed away. That video was on my TikTok page. You can find it. I posted the end of what I was talking about. Untraditionally, I carried her casket with a team. I was on the pallbearer team. I carried her out of the sanctuary. I carried her to her graveside. I was the last person to touch her casket before it went down to the ground.

I promised her that I would be with her the entire way of her life so I walked her all the way. I didn’t let somebody else do it. I wasn’t going to pass it on and make it somebody else’s responsibility. I carried her and made sure that when I was carrying her casket, I was holding her head. Wherever her head was in the casket, that’s where I was.

I was the last person to touch her casket and watched it go down. When it hit the ground, it clung against that concrete bolt and they pulled the straps off. I picked up a rose, dropped it and walked away. It was like, “My duty as your husband, I finished. I completed my task,” if you will. I went back to the church, had dinner and all that other stuff that they have after funerals for people.

After that is when TikTok started. I came to this point in the realization that as a male widow, there is almost no support for us anywhere. When you search for widow groups, it’s all female. When you read the Bible, it’s all female. It’s all about the women widows. It never mentions guys. All the widows on TikTok are mostly female. I’ve seen very few guys. There are some out there. I’m not discounting that at all. There are some good ones out there but by and large, it’s mostly the women that I see.

As a 29-year-old at this point, I felt alone. I’m like, “Where am I supposed to go? What am I supposed to do?” Not even the Bible that I believe in has anything for male widows. It’s all female. I was like, “What am I going to do? I’m isolated. I’m alone. I can’t be the only one.” That was my thought. I cannot be the only male out there that doesn’t want to go hang out with a group of widowed women because I don’t fit in. My emotions don’t run the same. I’m not dealing with the same stuff that they’re dealing with.

I was like, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know what to do.” I was like, “I’m going to make a TikTok. I’m going to recount my story, help those that I can and discuss life as a widowed person, especially at 29.” I figured one day, I may be widowed but I was expecting in the 60s or 70s. I was expecting late life after some kids and things to keep me going.

I speak with so many widows. A lot of them talk about, “I keep living for my kids.” That’s a blessing to you because I have nothing to live for. I don’t have anything of her left. I have nothing here that I want. There’s not a thing in this life that matters to me anymore. It’s gone. It died with her. I don’t have anything to live for like they do. I don’t have kids or grandkids.

Even my godfather who lost his wife a month prior to Brittany has his whole family. He’s got grandkids and great-grandkids. It stings. I don’t have them. I was like, “Let’s make this account.” I started recounting the story and pretty much making candid videos on the struggles of day-to-day widowhood. I talk about what it’s like to wake up at 2:00 in the morning screaming and crying your eyes out because your world is gone and there’s no comfort anywhere. I don’t keep skeletons in my closet so I don’t keep a secret. I air it all out and let it be out there. I figured, “I will let people see it raw as can be. I won’t hide anything.

I won’t struggle to try to say what the right thing is. I know I am sorry. It doesn’t hold a lot but it is what is in my heart for the struggle that you are experiencing and what this is. Have people reached out to you, like other widowers on TikTok, to share and connect?

Yes. I have made quite a few friends with other widows. They’re mostly widows. I don’t have any male widowers that have reached out necessarily. I’ve had a couple of messages here and there but most of the friends that I’ve made have been female widows. A lot of that comes from that I’m a safe space because I’m not interested in remarrying at all. They don’t have to worry about me trying to slide into the DMs or make a move. I have no interest in that so I’m safe.

One of them texts my phone on occasion. She has been widowed for four years. She said I’m one of the only people that have ever made her not feel alone because I’m candid and I talk about things but at the same time, I’m also safe. She doesn’t have to worry about me trying to get with her, flirt or any of that stuff. I don’t have that in me.

I have had others reach out. I even had a pastor asking me to come out and do a very similar interview to this at his church because he was starting a series on grief and loss. He said, “As a pastor for twenty years, I don’t hear many sermons on grief ever if I’ve even heard one. I feel like that’s a disservice. After meeting you and then experiencing what you go through and hearing all the things that people shouldn’t say, what bothers you and how I’ve said a bunch of those things, I figured that maybe we need to talk about it. Maybe we need to have a sermon or a class session.” He’s doing it on Wednesday nights for several weeks, going through the grief process and all this other stuff.

What are some of those things that people shouldn’t say?

It is anything that begins with the phrase, “Your wife would want.” As soon as you say, “Your wife would want,” or, “Brittany would want you,” anything you say after that is hot garbage. One is because you don’t know her that well, especially if you’re a random person on the street or even some of her friends and family. You weren’t married to her.

A lot of those things that you say about, “She would want,” are not conversations that we’ve had or they were conversations that we had that didn’t go the way you think they would. Anytime somebody says, “Your wife would want you to move on and find somebody else to be happy,” I don’t think she would. She had ample opportunity to tell me that. I had discussed it with her before. It wasn’t something we’d ever had the conversation of, “What happens when I die?”

I told her for our entire marriage, “If anything ever happens to you, you are it. I waited 26 years of my life for you. I have been with nobody else but you and I will be with nobody else but you until I take my last breath. You’re it. I will not replace you.” In any of those discussions, never once did she say, “I wouldn’t want that for you. I don’t like that idea. That seems wrong.” She would smile, accept it and agree. If she wanted me to find somebody else, she would have made that known. She would’ve said, “That’s dumb. I wouldn’t want that for you,” or something like that. She was nice enough to do so but she never did.

Any of those phrases that start with, “Your wife would want,” is garbage. Don’t do that. You are giving advice but you’re clouding it as it is my wife giving me advice. Don’t do that. Just give me advice. If you were like, “I honestly think you would be happier to move on,” thank you for that advice but it is not going to happen. That’s a better way to do it. Don’t cloud it or shroud it in, “Your wife would want this for you.” Don’t do that.

Telling people to remarry, don’t do that either. If they choose to remarry, which is well within their right and that’s what they want to do, then that’s their choice to make. I hate it when somebody says, “You are young. You’ll remarry.” My age doesn’t mean jack squat. I am as much of a widow as somebody who is 65. I’m in as much amount of pain. You are not telling the 65-year-old grandma, “It’s okay. You’re old. You’ll remarry.” Don’t do that to me. Don’t tell me, “You’re a baby. You’re young. You’ll remarry.”

That is a statement I’ve heard across the board from many of the widows that follow me. It is that people are telling them to remarry. I know several of them that follow me specifically because we have chosen not to remarry. They’re dealing with the same stuff. The one that’s been widowed for four years that texts me has done the same thing. She’s chosen not to remarry. There’s no threat from either of us. It’s why we’re friends.

It’s one of those things that’s like, “God has a plan. God needed them more than you did. There’s another angel in heaven watching over you. Everything happens for a reason. It’s better this way. At least you can find love again.” That’s the widowhood part of it. What if you lost a child? They’re like, “At least you could have another kid. At least they’re not going to have to deal with the world like it is now.”

There are so many things that people spit out of their mouths. Did you take longer than a second to process what you were about to throw into the world right there? If you did and I said the same thing about your living child, how would you feel? If I said the same thing about your living spouse, how would you feel? How would you feel if you came up to me and you were having a disagreement? Your spouse and you separated or you are living apart and I said, “At least you can remarry.”

They’re like, “I love my spouse. I don’t want to be apart from them.” I do too. It’s the same principle with me. I still love my wife. It would be a disservice for me to be with anybody else because they would not receive the love that my wife did at all. They would receive a fraction, if not less than that, of what she did. My heart belongs to her.

Think about things like that. The best thing that somebody can do when it comes to talking with a widow and being helpful is to let yourself be known that you’re wanting to help but don’t give unsolicited advice. Don’t do it. It doesn’t help. Be honoring to your word. If you say, “I will be there for you,” be there for them. I don’t know about you when you lost your husband but when I lost my wife, I got promised by hundreds of people that they would be there for me and would check in on me. They all disappeared in a month at max. People say that nonchalantly. It is like, “We’re here for you. You call us anytime,” and then they don’t answer their phone or aren’t there.

If you’re going to tell somebody that, be there for them. Don’t be that person that promises and then leaves. We’re talking church family. Church people that I grew up with my entire life don’t bother to check on me. My phone doesn’t ring. It’s been 1 year and 4 months. The only people that check on me daily are the widows that follow me on TikTok and my parents. That’s it.

Do you think people grow tired because they don’t know how to deal with it? Why do you think they tap out?

Probably a lot of times. When you’re in the throes of grief, you are not exactly the most positive person on the planet. I can walk into a room full of happy people and drag you all to the ground by being in the room because my eyes are dead. I’m slow to speak. I’m not laughing and giggling like everybody else. I’m here. At the same time, when you start listing all of these things that people shouldn’t say, people stop talking. They feel like everything they say is going to be wrong, which is not true but it is if you’re making points that you don’t need to.

Nobody’s educated on grief, especially in the Western world. The way that we view grief is atrocious over here in the West. If you go look at other cultures and how they honor the dead and celebrate them, we don’t do that here. When somebody gets thrown in the ground, it’s like, “That’s it. They’re trashed. They’re in the ground. They’re done. Move on. Forget about them. Stop going to the graveside. Stop carrying their ashes. Stop doing this. It’s past tense. They’re done. You’re alive and they’re not. They don’t matter anymore.”

Nobody is educated on grief, especially in the Western world. The way that we view grief is just atrocious. Click To Tweet

Those are phrases that I have heard. They are like, “You need to move on. She’s gone. She doesn’t exist anymore. She’s dead. She can’t feel your love. She doesn’t know you love her. She doesn’t have thoughts. She doesn’t have feelings. Move on. Find somebody else. Leave the grave. She doesn’t know you’re bringing her flowers.” That’s how we view it over here.

Those are strong words. I am speechless. The things you say are true. Those are comments I have heard from other widows and widowers. I’ve heard those same sentiments in the way we view things, which is part of why I am doing this show. It’s not fair. It’s not right. We can do better. Being able to share so candidly our experiences, my desire and prayer is to help other people to know they are not alone. There are people on this journey with them. It is okay for them to feel like when people say stuff like that that it’s wrong and it’s not appropriate.

It is for anyone reading to say, “I will never say words like that again,” and to show up when you say you’re going to show up. We’re already at the most desperate, critical and gut-wrenching part of our life. We don’t need people to make fake promises and not be there when they say, “We’re there.” We’re looking for a lifeline. You don’t get death cooties by hanging around someone who lost a loved one and your life is going to be on the edge.

 

WRT 19 | Young Widower

 

Those words you say are true. We can do better in educating. This is a forum for doing that. This is to share this message for people to know what it looks like to be on this side of someone you love not being here. Whether it’s a child, a grandmother or a spouse, those lives matter forever. Has sharing on TikTok helped you at all in your grief in being able to constantly speak about Brittany and being a safe space to share and do that?

Some, maybe. It goes back to I didn’t do it for me. I do it for the other people. I don’t pay attention to whether it helps me or not. I don’t remember or not whether you’re a Christian or not a Bible believer.

Let me tell you. I am a Christian. I am an ordained reverend. When I think of something like the massacres that Christians have done and different things, I know that my intent is to love people right where they’re at. Unfortunately, I feel like Christians so much have a voice in what we don’t like in how we’re telling people and how we’re judging people.

I don’t see enough people loving people and letting them get a relationship with God. I don’t see them letting that relationship with God be the catalyst to wanting to be able to change a life, to live with God and understand how much they mean to him that they were created with a purpose. That’s not what I lead with. It’s a conversation that I welcome but it is the whole foundation of who I am as a person.

I want to be clear. It is my methodology and how I’m managing that. I’ve noticed that when I don’t lead with that, people tend to talk. They tend to engage and then they go, “I want to show them what somebody that loves God looks like differently than what media may produce or throw out in people.” God is loving and he’s seeing your pain. He has not left you in this circumstance. We, as people, are trash. God is better than us and has more to offer.

You’re then familiar with the story of Joseph and the coat of many colors. That’s common. People know that story. When Jacob finds out that his son has been killed, which he doesn’t know he is still alive, he makes a statement when his friends and his family attempt to comfort him. He says, “I refuse to be comforted. I will mourn my son until I join him in the grave.” That’s where that ends. We then find out later on that he’s alive and he’s been in Egypt the whole time.

That is the very same stance that I took. I don’t need comfort. I am content in my pain. I will suffer and mourn her until I am with her again. Nothing else matters to me. I put a DNR on myself. I have an advanced directive that you cannot save my life, intubate me or give me food, anything. If I am mortally injured, you get to stand there and watch. That’s exactly what I want.

 

WRT 19 | Young Widower

 

I have a bracelet that has the DNR on it. I’ve got it in my backpack that I carry with me. It’s hanging on my wall when you walk in the door of my house. Everybody that is around me has a copy of it. It is well known that you don’t touch me. When I think about whether it has helped me, it helps me when I talk about her. It allows me to smile. People will say that in my videos in the comments. They’re like, “You glow when you talk about Brittany.”

If you’re watching this episode on YouTube and you can see the video link on it, when you are asking me about our relationship and how it started, I probably am glowing and sparkling. It’s the brightest part of my day. That is the only thing that brings that out. I used to be like that all the time. I used to have this sparkle in my eyes, this life, light and glow about me and this Jesus complex, if you will.

I had that love and natural light for everybody. When she died, it died with her. I don’t even look at mirrors anymore because my eyes are hollow. They’re cold. It’s like being lifeless. The way I describe is it’s as if death itself ripped my heart out of my chest and left me in a mortal corpse or a mortal husk. I walk through life. I’m alive but I’m not. It’s not a choice. I’m not like, “Today, I’m going to suffer.” It’s being that broken that I can’t.

I love to tell people about Brittany. I will talk about her until I’m blue in the face. When you start asking me about me, I will shut down very quickly. It’s like, “It doesn’t matter. You don’t need to know about me. Don’t worry about me. If you want to talk about her, her memory and her legacy, then sure.” That’s what the TikTok channel has even become. It has become not only a place for people to see what grief is like but it has become her legacy. It’s all of these people that know her that would not have otherwise.

I’ve had a couple of people make comments that are like, “She’s going to be surprised when a whole bunch of people start showing up in heaven and know her by name.” I’m like, “She’s going to either kill me when I get there and prove that people can indeed die after they get to heaven when she beats me or she’s going to be flattered that her husband wouldn’t shut his mouth and stop talking about who she was, how amazing she is and that she’s my world.”

I take care of her headstone like I took care of her. If it rains, I’m out there the very next day to scrub it clean and make sure there’s no dirt on it and no spots. I keep flowers out there. I rotate them out every couple of months. If it switches to wintertime, I put a grave blanket down. I take care of her stone as if it was her personally because it’s all I have left. I have memories. I have pictures but that is the last physical place where I have her.

TikTok has helped a lot more people than it has helped me. I do get random messages from people. I had one from a lady. She commented ago about me wearing my wife’s ring and if I was concerned about losing it. She was like, “What if it broke? What if it came off?” I explained that the chain that I wear is short and thick so it’s not likely to be caught on anything. I don’t ever take the ring off. I sleep with it on. The only time it comes off my neck is when I shower and it goes into a solution to be clean. I inspect the ring and the chain for damages to make sure it’s not wearing or tearing and then it goes right back on my neck.

When I told her that, she sent me a message and said, “Thank you so much. You gave me the courage to wear my mother’s wedding band. I’ve had it in a safe this whole time but because of what you said, I feel comfortable enough to wear it, get out of the house wearing it and do the short chain.” When I see those things, I feel good and relieved. It’s like, “I’m so glad that you found a way to do that and a way to be comforted.”

I’ve had lots of people say things like, “I didn’t know that I wasn’t alone. I didn’t know that other people felt specifically like I did that didn’t want to remarry and still loved their spouse.” That’s not something we see. You see so many widows that are remarried and moved on. There’s a small collective of us that don’t want to. It’s refreshing for them to see somebody like that and one as young as I am too. It’s like, “You’re 31 and you’ve made that decision?” “Yeah, and it hadn’t changed.” They’re like, “Give it a year.” “I did. It didn’t change.”

It’s great to be able to have that community to honor. If I may share, the wedding band thing was one of the most difficult things for me to deal with. The job that I had was very public. People would see you have a wedding band and then they would start a conversation. If I may share, my wedding band and my late husband’s wedding band, I had a jeweler make into a heart. It’s a double-heart pendant. The inside is my wedding band and on the outside is his wedding band. That was neat to be able to wear.

Sometimes, I may tell someone the story of what it is. To someone else, it may look like a piece of jewelry because I did not know what to do with it. It does drive you to try to repurpose things. I’ll ask one more question. We have talked for a long time but you do light up talking about Brittany. Sharing about her, you can see it’s exhilarating for you. When you hear people say the word move on, what do you think they’re trying to say versus what’s being interpreted?

At the beginning, when I heard the phrase move on close to her death, my very first thought is, “Do you want me to find somebody else?” That was the initial thought at the beginning. As time has moved on, when people say, “Move on,” I interpret it as moving on in life, not saying stuck where you are. That is hard for me. I told you my dream and my goal was marriage. Seeing a future outside of that and moving on with my life is not something that I have a vision for. I can’t see past this one.

Other people start volunteering, doing other stuff, becoming more active in things or continuing on the dreams that they had. When I hear, “Move on,” I have to stop the initial reaction of, “They want you to remarry.” It’s something I heard so blasted much right after she died. It was, “I’m young. Remarry.” Anytime somebody said, “Move on,” that’s the very first thing my brain does. I’m like, “I’m not remarrying. Stop asking.”

It depends on the person that’s asking. You can sense intent when somebody’s talking to you because of body language, tone of voice, words, choice and eyes. You can read somebody like a book. It is not hard to do. You know whether the intent is nefarious or not. You can tell by the way they look before they start talking if they’re going to be approaching what I like to call the uncomfortable subject of marrying again. I’m so hostile about it that it’s uncomfortable for people to ask me. If they’re saying, “I don’t like seeing you like this. You should find some happiness again,” that’s the, “Move on.”

A lot of the widow community don’t like the term, “Move on.” They like, “Move forward.” Moving on implies leaving something behind. Moving forward implies taking it with you. It’s a word choice. That’s what people say. Choose your words carefully. Moving on means leaving your spouse in the ground and moving on. Moving forward means taking what you have, the love you have with them and carrying them for the rest of your days. That’s an easier way to interpret that. That’s the answer to your question. It is the intent of the person that’s saying it but also, it’s that word choice. Don’t use, “Move on,” use, “Move forward.”

Moving on means leaving your spouse in the ground and moving on. Moving forward means taking what you have, the love you have with them, and carrying them for the rest of your days. Click To Tweet

Thank you. One other thing you mentioned about is that you did a conversation like this at a church. If someone wanted to reach out, would you be interested in having an opportunity to talk about Brittany at other opportunities?

Sure. They could reach me at my TikTok @BeyondStarlight2021 or find me on Facebook, Addison Drake. They can message me there. I’m open to most things. It depends on the venue and why you want the conversation spoken. I love to talk about Brittany in all aspects. I love to talk about my wife and how amazing she is and she still will always be for me. At the same time, it depends on what you’re going to use it for.

TikTok is a public platform but I don’t allow people to download my videos. They can’t save them. They can only share them, duet them and stitch them but they cannot save them to their phone. I don’t know what they’re going to use them for. In this day and age, people can edit a video to say what they want to. They can cut out things that I say or they can focus on a specific part so I’m always curious to know.

If you’re going to reach out to me, I would love to do that but I’m going to be very upfront. I’ll ask, “Why? What is your purpose behind it? Are you wanting my story? Are you doing a sermon series on it? Why are you having me here today?” That’s also protecting her legacy too. It’s tied to her name. Whether she’s physically alive or not, her name follows me. It’s the whole purpose of this thing that we’re doing. She is very much a part of this thing as I am. I’m not only keeping myself as protected as I can but I want to keep her name honored as well.

Thank you for bringing the love story of you and Brittany to this platform. Thank you so much for your candor for other people to know that they are not alone. As we wrap up, is there anything else you want to talk about that we didn’t discuss or feel like you want to mention?

No. That’s it.

Thank you so much.

I have almost no words but gratefulness. I am sorry for Addison’s journey. I am sorry for Brittany no longer being on this side of eternity but I am grateful for Addison being so willing to be so candid and to share every gut-wrenching part of his journey since Brittany stopped breathing. If I haven’t said it before, I want you to know I am so sorry for the person that you have lost. I am so sorry for what has driven you to this conversation but I am glad that you have found the widowhood. I want you to know that we are on this journey with you and to be encouraged. You are welcome to email me, reach out, share your journey and make your voice heard. I’ll talk to you later.

 

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Thank you for viewing this post. I am not a licensed therapist or professional life coach.

I am sharing my experience of loving the same man for 32 years, a mother to two adult children, a retired military officer, a breast cancer survivor, and my connections with others.

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts should reach out to a suicide hotline or local emergency number in their country https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/suicide/suicide-prevention-hotlines-resources-worldwide