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, December 14, 2008

Here it comes

Last year I was sort of ready for Christmas. I was sad and numb, but I knew making it through that first year would be tough. It was tough, but Christmas day wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. It was a couple of days after Christmas that was so hard. The quiet set in and the letdown began. I'd steeled my emotions only as far as Christmas day - not as far as the 27th or 28th.

14 days ago I thought I'd march into December and just tackle it the best I could, but here I am on the 14th and I'm starting to lose steam. We got a tree. I hung up most of our Christmas decorations. We've been listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks. I ordered Christmas cards. heart just isn't in it this year. Last year I mentioned that Christmas was really Jim's thing. Those are shoes I just can't step up to fill yet.

You know what's silly? I absolutely refuse to hang lights on the outside of my house. We used to have the prettiest house at Christmas. We hung a wreath on every single window outside and a matching one on the front door. We put up garland with lights through it around the front door. And we hung garland from out balcony over our screened porch. We put candles in every single window. Last year I wouldn't do it because I didn't want to ask for help. This year I just won't do it on principle. I am extraordinarily annoyed that he isn't here.

I was out there yelling at him as I shoveled a foot of snow off our sidewalk. I would have gladly gone out there had he been here. But he's not here. As I was out there shoveling (in a foot of snow as it was still falling) I saw a neighbor that I typically only wave to and yelled "This is crazy!" and she yelled back "I know! I tried to shovel but it was too hard so I'm waiting till my husband gets home!" Hit me like a punch in the stomach. She didn't know. Of course she didn't know. But I stood there reeling for a second after she pulled away in her car.

Lately I've noticed that I've been hanging on to the words "it's not fair" good and tight. Duh. We know life isn't fair. I often wonder if I'm going to get over that fairness thing. And I've wondered a lot why I've been hanging on to that lately. I'm really not sure why. Is it because of the Christmas decorations? Is it because of the snow? Maybe it's because I started dating and I'm drudging up a lot of weird emotions (which, by the way, is tons of fun for the poor saps that have been interested in me thus far).

I put the Volkswagen up for the winter today, and I was all in a snit about that. I couldn't figure out how to use the hydraulic jack and my neighbor, good man that he is, came over and helped me. We got the whole thing done in about 20 minutes. Alone it would have taken me hours and I would have been out there fooling around with it like a trained monkey. So I'm annoyed that I keep having to borrow other people's husbands. And a guy I'm dating offered to help me with it (he's handy - oh, I get all the good ones!) and I turned him down because I didn't want him to witness one of my temper tantrums should something go awry. I reserve those and let those festivals of fun out on my parents and no one else. And possibly my neighbors (I haven't unleashed the tantrums on them, but they may have inadvertently witnessed one or two. Or more.) - hence the reason I quote my neighbor as a good man - he came over and helped me quite possibly knowing that a temper tantrum could ensue.

It's been more than a year and I'm still holding on to "it's not fair". I'm still pouting and refusing to put up Christmas decorations. I do feel as though I'm moving forward - I see signs of positive change, but I'm also still out there yelling at Jim as I shovel. I'm still talking to him on the quiet nights. I'm still saying "Oh my Goodness, did you just see that Jim?!?!" Today I was talking about him with someone and I accidentally referred to him the present tense. That's awkward. Then I realize what I've done and I pause, trying to figure out if I should go back and correct myself or just let it go.

I can't change the coming of every holiday. I'll know better this year that it's not just about Christmas - it's about the whole time between Christmas and New Years. After 9/11 Jim and I pretty much stopped going out on New Years. We went out of a few times, but for some reason, going out after 9/11 just seemed wrong to us. And most years I'm up at my folks house anyway. (Last year I got into the champagne and had a party for one by drinking enough for three - I shan't be doing that again...) This year I'll be home. I'm a little worried. I don't want to go out. I don't want to stay in. I don't want to be alone. I don't want to be with anyone but Jim.

I know it's coming. I can deal. Some days I can bound out to the mailbox and get ready to open other people's Christmas cards with their fabulous family photos. Some days I don't get the mail because I just don't feel like it. Most days I'm just hanging on, still, to "it's not fair". Maybe fairness will come around in 2009. Maybe instead of wishing for Peace and Goodwill Toward Men, I'll wish for Peace, Fairness and Goodwill Toward Men. That's not too tall of an order for this season, is it?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

What does moving forward mean to me?

The term "moving forward" is relative, isn't it?

{Deep Breath}

Okay, people. Here we go. Partying like a rockstar (see previous post) means that I've been dating a bit. Because heaven knows I'm not going to close down a bar on my own, and all of my friends are "old" married couples, so they aren't going to be closing down any bars either.

Moving forward is a very good thing. Sometimes it feels a bit like a life regression, though. Before Jim passed away, of course we had the talk about whether or not I would date and possibly remarry at some point. It was an awkward talk. I just laughed nervously and said "Well, what am I going to do at my That's silly." He laughed. I told him no one would ever be like him. He was completely irreplaceable. And do you know what he said? He had the audacity to say "I probably wouldn't get remarried." To which I laughed out loud. Women loved Jim. Those big brown eyes. Six feet tall. Wonderful build. Good head of hair. Good job. Smart as a whip, and funny to boot. What's not to love?! I said "That's a bold faced lie. You'd be remarried in 6 months." And he just batted those long eyelashes at me and laughed.

I was right about one thing. Dating is silly. This is the most juvenile activity I've been involved in in years. Since college. Seriously. No one told me it would be as annoying as it was back then.

I'm supposed to be more mature at this point. But instead, I'm riddled with insecurity. Who would ever want a 36 year old widow with two kids? (You aside, Janine, you're cute as a button.) Who would want someone that's actually in love with their husband that died just over a year ago? Who would want someone that can't make a solid decision because I wonder if Jim would approve? And...if someone were dumb enough to go for all that - then I wonder - what's wrong with them?

Who am I going to date that isn't, at my age, weird? Divorced? Commitment issues? Has tons of baggage? Is possibly a serial killer or worse?

How am I going to date in Kohler? Goodness knows word spreads in a small town like *wildfire*. I'm sure some of my antics have yet to be published in next month's Kohler Villager.

My first date? I brought TWELVE friends with me. Yes, people, 12 friends to meet him. I just laughed out loud. You read that right. The guy was a good sport. I was terrified that he was a serial killer. I warned him that a friend or two might come along. Turns out 12 did. And it's a good thing I brought my friend Lisa, because she did all the talking for the first 20 minutes because I was so terrified that all I could do was stand there and giggle like an IDIOT.

I don't feel like I fit in very well with my friends anymore. They are talking relationships, kids, mortgages, and politics. I'm talking about where I went to eat on Saturday night. Anything I have to contribute to a conversation seems to be marred with "Well, that may be true but you don't have your husband anymore" (of course my friends aren't thinking that, but it's the voice I hear in my head). Of course I still have my kids to talk about, but they're just my kids now. I hate being an only parent. I don't have any stories about how Jim did this or that with the kids. Don't have any stories about how Jim once again left his shoes out so I could trip over them and I actually picked one up and threw it at him. Don't have any normal marital complaints like "Geez, Jim really didn't do a good job shoveling the back walk." Don't even have the luxury of faking a good relationship when we're in the biggest squabble ever. Don't have a sounding board. Don't have anyone to curl up with at night. Don't have anyone to put my cold feet on in bed. (A promise that Jim, by the way, totally reneged on when he actually felt how cold my feet are.) Go to bed alone. Wake up alone.

I thought about moving forward because I'm working on a project for the Cancer Clinic. We're doing a charity project that I think is really neat. Sheboygan has a "Festival of Trees", where local businesses and individuals decorate and donate Christmas trees to the Festival. There's a whole weekend to see the trees, and they are eventually auctioned off and the money goes to local charities. This year our tree is a "Celebrating SurvivorShip" tree - a nautical theme with Bottles of Hope (an art therapy project) and messages of hope on lighthouses. It's really cool. I'm working on the messages of hope. Some of the messages are so wonderful. They are so hopeful. These people have cancer. They are dealing with it every day of their lives, and they are able to move forward.

You would think that I would be able to pick up the pieces of my broken life and move forward in an orderly fashion. But it just isn't working like that. It seems like every one else's life is moving forward and mine is either staying the same (at best), or in the cases where I'm actually trying to move forward, it seems that I'm actually regressing. I guess dating and new experiences cannot be considered regression. After all, it's just that, new experiences. But GOD, dating is a pain. Within a couple of weeks of meeting Jim, I knew something was different. I don't think I can ever find someone like that again. Jim was a once in a lifetime catch. How in the world will I pull that off again?

Moving forward is going to happen whether I'm all for it, or whether I'm doing it struggling and kicking and screaming. It's just that - life drags us forward and we can play along and have fun or we can make ourselves miserable. I've been really lonely and needing a hug. A *real* hug. That's one of the upsides of dating. The downsides? I'm still talking to Jim {Hey honey, that guy was a DOPE, wasn't he?}. It's nice to have someone to go places with. Or just go out to dinner. Or...get out of the house and not depend on my friends like a needy desperate woman that doesn't have anyone else. I know they are glad to do things with me, but they have their own lives, their own families, their own permanent married dates for Saturday nights. They can't babysit me forever.

So what is moving forward? What is my message of hope? It's this: life goes on with or without me. I want to be part of it. I want to move forward every day and show cancer that it didn't get the best of us. I might, and I might not, find another guy like Jim. And right now, I'm not even looking for that. I'm looking to go out, have some fun, and throw a pie in the face of cancer. I'm looking to party like a rockstar and sneak a hug at the end of the night. I guess it's not as bad as dating in college. Now I can afford to drink beer out of bottles instead of out of plastic cups.