This blog is for Jim Marventano's family and friends to review his status and updates while he goes through treatment for Stage IV Colon Cancer. We can beat it together!

Thursday, January 31, 2008


Tonight was the first time in months that I've been able to sit down a watch a tv show. I've been waiting for the season premiere of LOST. I love it. (Does this make up for the fact that I watch The Bachelor? No...I guess to do that I'd have to be watching some kind of PBS documentary.)

I can only remember a handful of nights when I've been able to watch tv - really sit there and pay attention - since Jim passed away. One night I was already feeling down, so I decided to batten down the hatches and watch Hope Floats. In retrospect I probably wasn't thinking clearly, but I cried my eyes out and felt better afterward. (Not immediately, but later.) And I've watched The Bourne Ultimatum. I got it for Christmas. And who can say no to Jason Bourne?

Any other tv or movie just hasn't appealed to me. I just can't stomach it. My brain churns and churns and I realize I've got to get up and do something else. I spend a lot of my time reading, and a lot of my time looking at drivel on the internet. I still wander around sometimes, not sure of what to do. When I realize I'm wandering I get really sad. Wandering most often happens on Friday and Saturday nights. The kind of nights when Jim and I would watch a movie together. Weeknights I am so up to my ears in tasks for the coming day that I don't have time to wander.

LOST was a good episode. It also kind of made me jumpy and I wondered if perhaps LOST might be a little too intense for me at this point. I also had to stop reading Bonfire of the Vanities because it really was too intense. Although it looks like a good book, so maybe some day I can go back to it.

I often wonder when my mind will calm down enough to do some of the things I used to do. I wonder if it will ever calm down. I'm scared to have it calm down. You know what it feels like when you're in the car, driving to an address you've never been to before, and you suddenly realize that the radio is blaring, so you turn it down? As if turning down the radio is going to help you see better. That's what I feel like all the time. The radio in my head is just blaring. But I'm not hearing voices yet, so I guess that's a good thing!

Every day I wear a necklace that I got when Jim passed away. It's a star. Actually, I got one, and so did Jim's mom, Judi, my mom, and Kirsten. It's got Jim's ashes in it. We got Jake and Sean little silver cylinders. They're pretty neat. Today I tried to not wear the star. I tried on another necklace (that Jim gave me!) and I swear the radio in my head went to full volume. I had to take it off and put the star on. That turned the volume down to about the consistent rate - enough to be annoying, but not enough to keep me from doing things. Then I put on a ring that he bought me in St. Thomas. The volume went down a little more and I felt better.

I've always been pretty tightly wound (and if you know me you're thinking DUH!), but we're at fever pitch here. Sometimes I want it to calm down so I can watch LOST. Sometimes I need the volume to stay up so that I don't wander too much. I'm looking for the delicate balance.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Rich people aren't smarter than me

Jim was king of the invention. I looked back in the blog because I remembered someone commenting on Jim's leaf bag stand. Home Depot most certainly did rip off his idea! He got sick of the leaf bags always falling over so he constructed a stand that enabled the user to wrap the bag over the top (like a trash can) and voila! Easy yard cleanup. Then just remove the leaf stand and drag the full bag to the corner.

Tonight Jake did something really funny that reminded me so much of Jim. He was desperate to get down from the dinner table and watch the end of his Diego cartoon. But he was enjoying a brownie...and he was thirsty. So in an effort to save time, [this is a 19 month old we're talking about] Jake stacked the brownie on the top of his sippy cup, took a bite, and then immediately washed it down with some water. I thought maybe the first time was an accident, but no - this was a deliberate attempt to streamline the brownie/drink/Diego process. I was so stunned that I just stood there watching him for a few minutes.

And then I remembered something that Jim said. "Rich people aren't smarter than me, they just thought of an idea and had it marketed first. I just need to have my idea."

Jim spent some time on his ideas.
-As a little guy he engineered an elaborate chipmunk trap while camping with his family.
-He designed a picture frame while he was at Stone Container, made of corrugated cardboard, that could also hold small momentos in the back.
-He went on to make the aforementioned leaf stand.
-He created a no-tip chair brace for Rachel when she was about Jake's age and she started tipping back on her chair at the dinner table. Jim put the clamp on that one right away. (Later we had to ask his Dad to replicate it with Jake.)
-After blowing part of his finger off with the router, he created a method whereby he could use the router pretty much without touching it. (Who can blame him on that one!?)

I know he had more ideas and inventions. He looked into a patent on the leaf bag stand. It's really expensive.

I wondered tonight if Jake is going to follow in Jim's footsteps and invent things. I can't wait to see what he comes up with.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Silly things about Jim

The last post started me thinking about all of Jim's little idiosyncrasies and quirks.

I was thinking that these are the types of things that shouldn't get lost as years go by. For Jim, the list includes:

- Gum chomping, obviously
- Jim could touch the tip of his nose to his forehead. He showed me on our first date.
- He told people he lost the cartilage in his nose during a football accident. In reality, he's been that way since birth - usually he'd fess up right after telling the fib :)
- Jim could laugh and talk just like Scooby-Doo. I always maintained that if he were a cartoon character, he'd be Scooby
- He could spread his stumpy little toes out w-i-d-e...almost like you can spread your a tree frog
- He had a host of magic tricks, but most prominently with cards. He had great card tricks. He used to do magic shows for his family as a kid
- He could play euchre. He tried to teach me once but of course, I cried. That was the end of that. But he did manage to teach me to play a little poker
- Jim could make a serious omelet. Light, fluffy and delicious
- Jim loved mayonnaise. If he could have, he would have eaten it out of the jar
- Jim did not approve of spaghetti sauce with the meat mixed in
- He did NOT approve of any clothing that showed more skin than necessary (on anyone, not just me!). If it was up to him, I would dress like Barbara Bush
- He was involved in everything at our house - from registering for china to picking bath towels and chandeliers. His taste ran toward the ornate, which I find humorous, since he was also a flannel guy. He was all about intricately carved furniture and Victorian houses - he liked the detail work
- He was good at backgammon
- Jim hated sand. We went on a trip to the Outerbanks with some friends one year - Jim, Rachel and I spent the entire week in the pool. He refused to go to the beach
- He thought snapdragons were the best flowers
- He was terrified of snakes, and even reptiles in general. He could handle about 3 minutes of the reptile house at the zoo, and then he had to leave
- He used to shave in the shower so that he didn't get red bumps on his neck. He used Colgate shaving cream. But he'd only use Crest toothpaste
- He didn't like the feel of lotion on his hands, and if I asked him to put suntan lotion on my back he'd act like I was covered in some kind of rash
- You couldn't even LOOK at Jim's milk without him getting totally grossed out. He would share Chapstick, soda, beer...whatever. BUT NOT MILK.
- Jim slept on a pillow that I would consider rock hard
- He literally used to get tan walking from his car into the office. He didn't like the Atlanta summer heat
- Jim loved chick flicks. And war movies, of course
- Jim's ring finger on his left hand was missing a tiny bit of the tip. He accidentally blasted it off with his router when we lived in Atlanta
- He loved jackets and watches. He had a ton of jackets and an entire collection of watches from girlfriends and family
- In our entire time together I only saw Jim get mad - really mad - around 3 or 4 times. I distinctly remember 3...
- His first mentor at Stone Container was Durwood Bent. The first thing Durwood taught Jim was to document absolutely everything - and he carried that on through his career
- Judi's tuna mac salad was his favorite food (besides pizza) - he would literally make a batch and eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner
- He loved, loved, loved Christmas music
- Jim was never wrong in assessing someone's character

I guess that's enough of a list for tonight. I just miss him today. It was a good day, though. When I think about all of Jim's little quirks and things that made him distinctly JIM, I feel happy. In my lifetime I've made some not-so-smart decisions or not caught onto the whole scheme of things until it's almost too late. But I knocked it out of the park when I met Jim. He was the best decision I ever made.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Rachel chews gum just like her father


Until my shoulders are up to my ears and I finally say "Are you enjoying that gum?"

And they both said the same thing: "Yep."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

It's always sunny in Wisconsin

People have always sort of giggled when we've mentioned that we've been anxious to move to Wisconsin. We moved here in part because we wanted to be closer to my parents. But we also moved here because Jim was looking for Smalltown USA, where people know each other and are friendly, where we can make it anywhere around town within about 10 minutes. Jim was looking for wide open spaces, relatively low taxes, and reasonably good weather.

You might be looking at that last qualification and thinking "Reasonably good weather? In Wisconsin? Ha!" But actually, we have very good weather. Granted, it's gets *cold* here in the frozen tundra. But we don't have that much snow. We get barely any lake effect snow because we're on the west side of Lake Michigan. It's just that the snow we do get tends to hang on for a long time because it's so cold.

And we get a magnificent change of the seasons. It always annoyed Jim that there wasn't a true change of seasons while we lived in Atlanta. And you know what? We have a LOT of sunny days here. Today is a prime example. It's freezing out, admittedly. But the sun is shining full bore and it's really beautiful.

Days like today remind me of why we moved here. They remind me of Jim. I love to see the sun shining in the sky. It gives me hope. It reminds me that a thaw will eventually come, and things will get easier. Both literally and figuratively.

It's easy to use the blog as a my complaint mechanism. Especially since I'm second only to my kids in prize-winning whining. But in truth - I have so much hope. For me and for my kids. Sunny days like today - true Wisconsin days - JIM days - remind me that new things are on the horizon. The sun will shine again.

Oh, and by the way, I'm also feeling hopeful because we did a shopping trip to Wal-Mart this morning and the kids were great the whole time.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

This is why there are supposed to be two parents, Part II

Stomach virus has hit our house in a big way. As I mentioned the other day, my mom made an extremely well-timed visit yesterday. Jake has had explosive diapers for the past few days. Last night I got sick, and today Rachel got sick.

My mom pointed out that she can do diapers all day, but when Rachel got sick at the dinner table tonight, she said "Um...that's all you." I know. That's why there are supposed to be two parents. One parent can typically handle one gross thing, while the other can handle something different. Unfortunately my mom and I both have a serious aversion to throw-up.

So now it's time for me to tell you about how as a baby, Rachel only threw up on me.
-Jim went out of town, she threw up. On me. Every time.
-He would just get done holding her, she'd come over to me and throw up.
-When we moved here she looked at me and said "I don't feel right..." and threw up all over me and her bed.
-One time we were at Target, and she was looking at me kind of funny while sitting in the cart. I said, "are you okay?" and foolishly picked her up - she barfed all over me. The funny part of that was that I sent Jim to get help and some paper towels and he came back, 10 minutes later, sweaty, with nothing.
K:Where are the paper towels?
J:I can't find the paper towel aisle.

K: For heaven's sake, Jim, go to the bathroom and get some.
J: Well, where do you think the bathrooms are? I'm not sure I can find paper towels.
In the meantime I'm standing there, holding Rachel, and we're both dripping with throw-up. Sometimes Jim didn't react really well in a minor emergency. You'd think that his cool, engineering side would take over and he'd leap into action, but...that's really not what happened.

Jim was the who could handle throw-up. It's just not my thing. Give me a full diaper any day. So even though I don't care for that duty, I'm used to it now. My mom was kind of upset that she couldn't help me but I just laughed - she's been helping me all day. She took care of Jake this afternoon while I took a luxurious 3 hour nap. (Well, it was partly recovery from last night's illness.) She bathed Rachel while I cleaned up down here. And she got Jake ready for bed and changed Rachel after Rachel got sick a second time. At least the second time Rachel went for the bucket. That's not to say that she made it there, but she did try.

Throw-up is a sensitive issue at our house. Since Jim's diagnosis, any sickness is not taken lightly. I'm such a hypochondriac that when I got sick last night I fleetingly wondered if there was something really wrong. When Rachel complained today of stomach pain, I wondered if someone else at school had been sick - after all, she does take after me in a number of ways - being a hypochondriac wouldn't be out of the question. But I also take any health complaint from her very seriously. Since Jim's diagnosis, throw-up has taken on a new meaning for me. He hated to get sick.



I completed the last paragraph at 8:20, and decided to take Rachel upstairs, as she'd fallen asleep on the couch. We made it all the way upstairs, right outside Rachel's bathroom, and...yuck. At least it was on the hardwoods and tile. So here I am, 9:00, the hallway and bathroom freshly scrubbed, me freshly scrubbed, and I'm done with this blog for the night.

They say the first year is the toughest. At least we're done with the first quarter.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

This is why there are supposed to be two parents

When Rachel was a baby I said to Jim "Geez. I don't think I could make it as a single mom." Huh. Who knew.

I believe that kids need two parents. I don't care who the parents are - husband and wife, wife and wife, husband and husband. But I think there should be two parents in any home. Not for the kid's sake - kids turn out just fine with a single parent. I think it's for the parents' sake. For their own sanity, people naturally pair off. When Parent A runs out of steam, Parent B can pick up the ball and run with it. Parent B can hand a wailing baby to Parent A and say "I've had enough for the moment" and recharge - if only for a few minutes. And, in our case today, my counterpart could have done something with the kids through the witching hour while I prepared dinner.

I am done with being a parent for the day. Actually, I was done around 2:30 but Jim hasn't come back to relieve me yet, so I guess I have to keep going. But at this point the kids are upstairs doing...something. And I just don't care what it is.

Weekends get really long without Parent B (or A, as the case may be). I had better have at least one activity planned for each day. On Sundays I'm delighted to go to church because it's like a ritual for us. We get up, hang in our jammies for awhile. We start getting ready (typically too late) and run out the door to make it there by 10:00. I get an interesting hour listening to Pastor Kirby while my kids are having fun, watched over by nice people. And I get a blissful hour to myself. After church, without fail, we hit the little market here in Kohler and get donuts with sprinkles on them. And by the time we get home, eat our donuts and some juice...well, then it's time for nap and we've had our activity for the day. (Plus I get to get dressed up for church which is nice for me.)

But today, I was disappointed to find that Jake is really snotty and coughing. Rachel sounds really stuffed up. I wanted to go to church. I knew it would have been wrong to go. What if my kids get other kids sick? As a germaphobe, I find it highly annoying when people bring their sick kids to daycare/Sunday school/gym get the point. There goes our activity for the day. So now I'm fed up with the kids. I just want to light a fire and watch football. I want to talk on the phone and sound like I'm sincerely listening. I want to eat cereal and Reeses Peanut Butter Cups for dinner, not try and figure out how to get the correct food groups into my kids. Do you think the teensy carrots in Dora soup count? I want my Parent B back. I want to have an unplanned activity day and have that be okay. I want to...take a nap without Rachel coming in 30 times and saying "Is quiet time over yet?"

This blog is just a giant whine fest. I sound like one of my kids. We had a very nice weekend and we went to the Children's Museum in Milwaukee yesterday. It was great fun. And I picked up the new stationery that I ordered and it's totally awesome. Rachel painted some wonderful pictures this morning. Today my kids were really good all day until the witching hour.

But I did have my first meltdown tonight. I can't bear to have any more snot rubbed on me. Maybe that's the real benefit of a 2 parent household - the grossness gets divided between two people. (Although, sometime I'll write a blog about how as a baby Rachel only threw up on me.)My mom is coming tomorrow for a well-timed trip to help me. (Although I maintain that I didn't call her in desperation - she'd planned to visit before I had my meltdown tonight.)

Only Parent Lesson #3 - have plans. Then have plans if those plans don't work out. And then have plans if those plans don't work out.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

And, sometimes I'm angry

Nothing's going wrong today. Not really. Jake is sick today. So I was sitting on hold with the doctor's office Muzak playing in my ear and an old song "Daddy's Home" by Cliff Richards came on. Ironically, Cliff isn't singing about an actual daddy - more of a hypothetical "who's your daddy" to his significant other. Listening to that stupid song I had a sudden and very intense flash of anger.

The song got me thinking about Rachel and Jim. Mostly when I feel angry, I feel for the kids. It really makes me mad that Rachel and Jake don't get to have their Daddy. I can see how her eyes light up when I tell her about the special times they had. The kids at school have a lot of questions like "What happened to Rachel's daddy?" and "Well, if her daddy died, does she have a daddy anymore?" (The answers to those two questions are: Rachel's daddy had cancer and he died. And yes, she still does have a daddy, but he lives in heaven.) One kid from Rachel's class was asking me questions and I told her that Jim could have as much Diet Coke as he wanted in heaven. And she said "Can he have all the beer he wants, too?!" I love kids. They're just so honest.

Another hard thing when addressing kids is having to say the word "died". I don't like to use that word. It just sounds so harsh and final. But I said "...when daddy passed away" to Rachel the other day and she said "passed away? What does that mean?" Everything has to be so literal. I have a hard time with that right now - I need the vocabulary softened for me.

I feel angry that Rachel and her friends have these questions. Not that they shouldn't ask questions - by all means, they should. But I feel angry that it happened at all. And to a four year old and 19 month old. "Cancer" and "died" should not be in a four year old's vernacular.

I feel angry that what Rachel and Jake have are a few memories, pictures, and a bear that has his voice. (The bear was a brilliant idea - Jake listens every single day.) I want them to have Jim. That's what every parent hopes for their children - that they will be brought up in a safe, nurturing environment where they have two parents to lean on. Now the kids just have me. I'm doing the best I can, but it angers me that they don't have a choice. Cancer didn't give my kids a choice. Cancer didn't give me a choice. And cancer certainly didn't give Jim a choice. I'm angry for them and I'm angry for Jim. I'm angry for all of us.

I definitely don't mind answering kids' questions - after all, we have nothing to be ashamed of, and the minute we stop talking about it, it will feel "hush-hush" and I don't want that - for me or my kids. I do mind the fact my kids don't have a chance to see their dad at all. I mind that they have to ask me questions about a vile disease that invaded and tore our lives apart. I mind that their memories of Jim will come from pictures and voice recordings - not from their daddy.

Complaining about it won't make cancer go away. But I can't help wondering how I could make other families lives better. I don't want any other young family to be in the position that ours is in. I don't want any child to have to answer questions about heaven or whether or not they have a mommy or daddy. That's were my anger comes in - my kids were gypped out of a total family experience. They were gypped out of a great daddy. They were gypped out of making memories with someone who loved them more than anything else. We all feel gypped without Jim, but in the grand scheme of things, I think the ones who really got the short end of the stick was our kids.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Wow. It's been a week.

I can't believe it's been a week since I last posted. And the really amazing thing is that it's been a good week. I made it through a solid week - meltdown free! Wonders never cease!

I am feeling good about things.
- I cleaned up a lot of the house. Someone stopped by unexpectedly the other day and I was okay with letting them in the house. (We all have to overlook the dining room table, but even that isn't too bad...)
- My kids are wearing clean clothes. In fact, not once this week did I have to do a re-wash after leaving the clothes, wet and soggy, in the washer for 48 hours. I hate doing the re-washes - what a waste. Not to mention the stink.
- My kids got baths this last week on an every-other-night rotation. Sometimes every night. When it rains, it pours.
- I made dinner almost all week. Except Friday. We had pizza, and ice cream with sprinkles. I figured a celebration was in order. I made a new recipe tonight. Jake wouldn't even take one bite of it, but that's a whole other ball of wax.
- I got a few more of the memorial cards done.
- I "made" a website for the Kohler Wellness Program, and posted it tonight. Apparently my real-world skills haven't rusted out completely.
- I started a journal. I've been doing tons of meditation and prayer.
- I hitched up my big-girl britches last week and went out with a new friend who's been reading the blog - when she asked to meet me I panicked, but realized that it was a grave injustice not to meet someone who's that cool. So we went for coffee. I had a marvelous time.
- Rachel has been marching all over Kohler with her new pink cowgirl boots on. She looks wonderful. I get happy just watching her.

Our one major incident: as I was getting out of the shower on Saturday I noticed one of my pairs of glasses on the floor. Then I noticed the glasses only had one arm. Someone (Rachel said it was Jake, Jake just giggled and drooled) snapped the arm off my glasses. I had to put both of the kids in their rooms for 10 minutes so I could cool off without freaking out in from of them. And then I got it together, found the arm for my glasses, and let them out.

And that was the worst of it. Not bad, huh?

I miss Jim every day. The photographer that took our pregnancy pictures and our newborn pictures of Jake stopped by the other day and dropped off some pictures as a very generous gift. I loved the pictures. She gave me a collage of our maternity photos, and I can see the sparkle in Jim's eye. I remember when we had the pictures taken with Jake at a week old, she asked him if he'd like to take his shirt off and have his picture taken with the baby. Jim looked at her like she was nuts and said "With this rug? There's no way I'm taking my shirt off!" I laughed and laughed and laughed. I love the sparkle in his eye. I just love it.

Speaking of Jim's chest hair, he always threatened that he was going to shave the shape of a bear in his chest hair. When we first met I remember one of the girls at Dick's Sporting Goods (which is where Jim and I met) saying to me "Isn't he cute?" and I said "Well...he's awfully hairy." Now I think other guys just look...bald. It's all perspective.

Things aren't as fun here without Jim, but it seems that we're starting to learn the ropes. It's been my goal to at least get a handle on some of the basic tasks without freaking out and having to call my mom and dad for help. This week I did it!

Now if I could just get Jake to eat...

Monday, January 07, 2008

What is it with men and their speakers?

So, I've been cleaning house. Taking better care of myself (see Resolutions, below) means getting some of the stressors out. My number one stressor right now is the mounds and mounds and mounds of paperwork and junk that seem to plague my house.

I've been taking things to Goodwill. I like to rotate toys - Rachel and Jake have so much that they forget what they have and then they don't use it anymore. So I started a new rotation, and I needed space for some of the rotated items. I cleaned a few things out of the basement, and I came across a set of Jim's old speakers.

We've had these speakers for 12 years, and never once in the history of our marriage have they ever been set up. I tried to get rid of them a couple of times but Jim would grab them away from me, horrified.
J: Don't get rid of my speakers!
K: But honey, we aren't using them.

J: But they're really good speakers.
K: But...we're not using them. And they're really big.

J: I've had these speakers since college. And one time some girl {I'm sure he named a name, but I forget who} dropped one and nearly broke it when I was moving. I don't even like you holding them.
K: {Getting a little peevish} Well da$%, Jim. It wasn't me that dropped them. AND WE AREN'T USING THEM.

J: We're keeping them. I might need them. I'll sell them or something.
K: {Scowl} Great. Fine.

He did try to sell them once. He had them out at a garage sale and the price was marked so high that no one would ever pay it. And these were pretty big speakers. Who wants to pay for big speakers anymore? They get better sound quality out of tiny ones now.

I just don't see the point in hanging on to giant speakers that we aren't using. And on the occasion listed above I foolishly started to say that I didn't see the point of a subwoofer either. I saw the look on his face and backed down on that one. (I can see the horror on my own father's face as he's reading this - he may not be handy, but he knows surround sound like it's his business, and I'd bet dollars to donuts he's got giant speakers stashed in their basement, too.)

I gave the speakers to Goodwill. I've tucked an Ariel Kitchen (no longer being used, near the point of destruction) nicely into that corner of the basement. The speakers were caked with dust from the renovation. I did feel a little twinge and wondered if he was watching as we cleaned them up to get them ready to go. But Jim, if you're reading and standing behind me with your fists clenched and your lips pressed together angrily, you'll also notice that we still have the subwoofer. I won't get rid of it. Although I have no idea what it does.


Death is nothing at all - I have only slipped away into the next room.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by my old
familiar name, speak to me in the easy way which you always used to.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be the household
word that it always was. Let it be spoken without effort. Life means
all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was; there is absolutely
unbroken continuity. Why should I be out of your mind because I am
out of your sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere
very near just around the corner. All is well. Nothing is past; nothing is
lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before - only better,
infinitely happier and for ever - we will all be one together with Christ.

Found in Ireland
Achill Island
County Mayo

Sometimes I like this verse and sometimes I have a hard time reading it. Whoever wrote this was clearly in a better place than me. I strive to get there. But I do believe that Jim will be there to greet us as if no time has past. I think he'll be at the gates, eyes twinkling, ready with a joke or something to make us laugh. I believe that Jim was one of the few people of this world that will go on forever. What a mark he made. In only 38 years. Imagine if he'd lived to be 100.

My brain is constantly infused with thoughts of Jim and I know, as stated above, that he's just around the corner. I am able to laugh. Jim and I had some really funny jokes. I truly delight in thinking about those times when I'm feeling lonely. Sometimes I laugh out loud thinking about him. He was a delightful person. Or, as my dad refers to him - he was "nutritious". He was good, he was positive, he simply made life better for everyone he came in contact with.

I can't wait to see him. I can't wait to see the twinkle in his eye. I think that twinkle was a window on his very soul, and I believe that no matter what happens after we die, I'll be seeing that twinkle.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

It's the little things

Christmas was nice. We made it through okay. You know what hurt? Christmas Eve. Surrounded by a mound of kid things to put together. My brother Kevin and his wife Becky assembled a spring horse with amazing grace and cooperation. My Dad blew out a hair dryer trying to inflate a mini-bounce house. (It's a long story with that one...) If Jim had been there, things would have been different. A bounce house would have taken 5 minutes to inflate rather than 2 hours. He would have put together the horse in 10 minutes and gotten down to the point where he realized he's lost the last screw. Then he'd spend 30 minutes swearing and feeling around on the carpet looking for it. Then he'd sit back and admire the gifts after we set them up.

Christmas Day was such a giant event that I really didn't feel too sad. I was glad to see the kids open the gifts. And my most overwhelming feeling was that I just wanted to call him. I kept waiting for him to come back. I felt little bits of sadness when I realized that he wasn't just a phone call away. That he wasn't coming back.

Real sadness struck me two days after Christmas. I wasn't prepared for the let down. Nothing was going on - I was relaxed and alone with my thoughts. I had a hard time keeping it together. But that can't happen for long with two kids.

And again today I felt it. We tried to reinflate the bounce house with Jim's air compressor. I had to call Jim Sr. and ask him what I was supposed to be using. My Dad and I looked all over the basement and I couldn't find his air gun. So we had to go buy one. Jim Sr. told us what to get. The bounce house is inflated now. It never once occurred to me to ask Jim before he passed away how his workshop is organized and where I could find the pieces for everything. It's annoying to know the tools are down there and not be able to use them.

I also felt it today when I went to order our new countertop. We'd meant to do it over the last year but we just never got to it. I got Jim's favorite - Silestone Kona Beige. Here's a picture of the kitchen we redid in Atlanta, with Silestone Kona Beige countertops. We (Jim) completely ripped out the old kitchen and redid the kitchen from scratch. We hand picked every single thing in the kitchen, and we were so proud of it. I always felt that this kitchen was the truest reflection of us. Except that healthy looking fruit on the counter. That probably rotted and I threw it away.
Jim's favorite countertop is beautiful. But when I talked to the girl at Home Depot today, I realized that I'm going to have to {gasp} HIRE a plumber to come over and help me unhook the gas for the stove, and then rehook it up. And the water for the sink. I'm going to have to ask people to help me take out the old countertop. These are things that just haven't occurred to me before. Of course not - Jim always took care of things like that. Before you throw eggs at me and tell me that I'm sounding grossly anti-feminist, consider this: I come from an un-handy family. When Jim and I first got together, Jim took over all the handy projects at my parents' house. When we got married, if I attempted a project on my own and Jim caught me, he'd butt in and take over. And it only got worse over 12 years. So I was very okay with letting him do things like demolition work or hook up a gas line. (Although here's a picture of me doing demo work on our bathroom in Atlanta - Jim was at work. I stayed home "sick", and as soon as he got home, he took over!) In any case, I cried at Home Depot tonight. You know what? Picking out countertop is not fun without Jim. I don't want to coordinate the logistics of things and pay for things that were once available to our household for free. I don't want to pick Jim's favorite countertop without Jim here. I don't want to do much of anything like that without Jim here.

It's still the strangest times that it hits me. I should have known going into Home Depot. We need new countertops and Jim really wanted them. I'm glad to follow through on things, but not without Jim. I definitely grieve for the past, but the number one thing I grieve for now are the things I wanted for our future. Following through with plans that Jim and I had made together - that really upsets me. I never intended to be on my own. I certainly never intended to have my un-handy dad offer to help me (Jim is probably shrieking from heaven "NO! CALL SOMEONE ELSE!") with the logistics of countertops and shutting off the gas. (Don't write me an email - I know not to do that myself.) I grieve when I see my kids making new steps in their lives and I know Jim isn't here to share it. I grieve when I realize that I didn't ask Jim where the parts are for his air compressor gun. I grieve that I'll be inflating the bike tires this summer with Jim's air compressor and Jim won't come along to budge in and take over my project. It's all the tiny things in my every day life. They make me so sad. They make me grieve for someone I love dearly. They make me grieve for the future Jim and I planned together. This is not how it's supposed to be.

Every day life goes on. We needed new countertops, and we'll get them. The kids will continue to grow and progress. I will organize the workshop so I can find things. But it just lacks the same lustre without Jim. My whole life lacks lustre without Jim. He was the polish that made us shine.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Grief is Like a River

by Cynthia G. Kelley

My grief is like a river-
I have to let it flow,
But I myself determine
Just where the banks will go.

Some days the current takes me
In waves of guilt and pain,
But there are always quiet pools
Where I can rest again.

I crash on rocks of anger-
My faith seems faith indeed,
But there are other swimmers
Who know that what I need

Are loving hands to hold me
When the waters are too swift,
and someone kind to listen
When I just seem to drift.

Grief's river is a process
Of relinquishing the past.
By swimming in Hope's channels
I'll reach the shore at last.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all!

I've got two resolutions for this year. I love resolutions. I am very good about following through on my resolutions (which is why I never say that I'm going to exercise as a resolution!) and in previous years, I've had some successful year-long ventures thanks to my resolutions.

Without further ado:
1. I will take better care of myself this year.
- I will go to bed earlier.
- I will eat better.
- I will get off the couch from time to time.
- I will get an occasional massage.

2. I will honor Jim in every way I can.
- I will take the kids out and do things Jim would like them to do.
- I will start Jim's scrapbooks for the kids.
- I will start assembling the blog "book".
- I will do a private journal for me and the kids.

I took Rachel snowmobiling this year. She loved it. And it made me so sad. Jim was so excited about getting the kids into snowmobiling. He got to take Rachel out a little bit last year, but not much. I took her on a *really* bumpy trail this year and she loved it. She's very adventurous.

I want things for the kids. I want them to have the kind of experiences and adventures that Jim liked. Look for us out in the woods. We'll be out there snowmobiling, shooting, snowshoeing. We'll be in the mountains skiing and hiking. We'll be out on the lake fishing and water skiing.

I went snowshoeing with my folks and some friends this Christmas. It was so peaceful and beautiful out in the woods. There were two times that I could feel Jim there. He loved being outside, as do I. I want that for my kids, too.

You might think resolutions are silly, but ask me later this year. I'm working on them. I want my kids to have Jim however we can get him. Following through on my resolutions gives them a bit of Jim.