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!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

It's good to try something new

Today is the 11 month mark. I cannot believe we're nearly a year out from Jim's passing. I cannot believe we've survived nearly a year without him when 13 months ago I wondered how we'd survive one day without him.

Next month is supposed to be the month we feel the pressure lift - you know, how people always say "The first year is the hardest". I don't forsee a magic lifting of the clouds, but in the past 11 months, we've learned a lot.

In the past 11 months I've taken on all the roles that Jim and I used to split between us. I can't say I'm doing them all well, but I've tried. I have learned a lot about the lawn mower. And now I can use my string trimmer like an edger. I have used the grill. I have learned to change furnace filters and water filters. I just learned to jump start my car. That's one problem with being a single woman - you have to be prepared for every possible contingency that could ever strike. I am still working on making dinners for two people (three, but the kids split a single portion) without having too much to freeze. I'm learning that it's okay to throw in the towel and go get Culvers on some nights. (Okay, a lot of nights.) Laundry is getting done. The lawn is getting mowed. My kids are...not necessarily clean, but not smelly. My bills are getting paid. I am starting to catch up on some of my paperwork and clear off the dining room table. That's right, folks - I can see the gleaming wood of my dining room table. Some of it, anyway. Someday I hope to be able to sit at it. Wouldn't that be amazing?

This summer we planned A LOT of stuff to do. I certainly didn't try to do it, but a week of camp here, a trip or two there, and all of a sudden our summer was full. We spent a week at family camp (well, Rachel and I did - Jake stayed with my parents. I thought he would be too young, and I was right.) and while at camp, Rachel and I stretched our limits with some new activities. We flew to Rochester and spent some time with the Marventanos. Rachel learned to swim this summer so she was quite proud to show off her newly learned skills in her Aunt Judi's pool. We went on roller coasters (blech, I'm not as young as I used to be!) and all sorts of amusement park spinning rides (those were all Rachel - I can't handle all that spinning anymore!). And now here we are at my parents' cabin in the Northwoods. We've been out kayaking and fishing. We went to a music festival featuring an interesting polka band. We've been looking at the stars. And we've been to the stock car races.

Our motto for the summer has become "It's good to try something new".

When I wonder why this happened, and why it happened to us, I often also wonder why it was Jim and not me. I've wondered if the kids would have been better with him. And this summer I found my answer: I don't think so. Not to say that he wouldn't have been wonderful - he would have. He was the best Dad I've ever known. But as I've mentioned before, parenting takes a lot of teamwork, and he would have struggled on his own just as I am. He just would have struggled in different ways. And although I'm not the best mom I've ever known, I am certainly the type who will help my kids stretch their limits. One of the best things Jim said to me before he died was "Thanks for taking me out of my comfort zone. I wouldn't have done half the stuff I did without you."

I have learned these past 11 months that I can and will survive. And I still have a chance to make a great life for my kids. I realize that I'm too hard on myself, and I'm sometimes hard on my kids. But would it be different if Jim was still here? I don't think so. I am a stickler for good manners and not touching anything in a public bathroom. I get worn down and run down just like everyone else. Sometimes our bedtime routine is like Chinese Water Torture. (For me...they're torturing me.) But I don't think I have more or different problems than anyone else. And I'd still have problems if Jim were here.

Missing Jim is like the tides - it ebbs and flows, and when I least expect it, it comes crashing in on me. I've made progress over the last 11 months, but I've also had some regression. What gets easier are the every day tasks, not the missing him. Not the trivial every day stuff, like wondering what Jim would think about Brett Favre being traded to the Jets. I just wish I had a phone line to him:
J: Hello?
K: Hi Lambchop. I miss you so much. When are you coming home?

J: Well actually, Kate, I can't come back. But I miss you and the kids.
K: Oh. You know what I miss? Your arms. I could really use a Jim hug. It's the thing I miss most about you. Hey, while I've got you - how do I fill the propane tank for the grill? Do I just go there and they do it, or do I have to fool around with something? Because I don't want to look like I don't know what I'm doing. It sort of gets to me when I have to ask some random guy to help me.

J: [Insert answer to the propane thing] but you can also just [do this other easier thing].
K: Oooohhhhh... got it. Thanks. What did you think about Brett being traded to the Jets?! Crazy. I can't believe he came out of retirement. Remember how we talked about it when Michael Jordan did that? You said that Michael Jordan shouldn't have tried baseball. That he should have become a professional golfer.
J: Yeah, I can't believe it about Brett either. And I guess [insert thought about Brett playing for the Jets]. Have you been teaching the kids the Jets cheer?
K: Of course I have. I hope I'm doing a good job honoring your memory. We talk about you all the time. And sometimes I yell at you when I'm at my wits' end.
J: I know.
K: Sorry.
J: [Laugh] - that's okay, Kate. I saw you trying to raise the lawnmower cutting height before David came over to help you. You know, there's an easier way to do that if you just [insert Jim logic].

K: Thanks, Lambchop. I love you. And I miss you. I have to hang up now because one of the kids is calling me for the 800th time.
J: I love you too, Kate. Tell the kids I love them and give them a kiss for me.
K: I will. Goodnight.
J: 'Night!

*Sigh* - I'd do anything for one more simple phone call. It really is the little things.

We will persevere. I'd love to write next month on the 17th and say that we've had some kind of breakthrough, but the reality of it is that we all have to go on with our every day lives. My goal is to make my life and my kids' lives extraordinary. To treat every day like it's our last - whether that means an extra kiss when off to school, or white water rafting the Colorado River. To have no regrets when it's our time to go. That's something Jim was able to say, and I hope that for my kids as well.

11 months out, and we've made it this far. Perhaps we can make it through the every day and live up to the "It's good to try something new" motto.