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!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Life is so fragile

One of my family members passed away today. Cancer.

It seems like not a week goes by without a reminder that life is so fragile. That we have very limited time with the people we love. That cancer knows no boundaries.

Last week I went out with some friends for dinner. I got to bring a date with me...someone I've been seeing on and off for several months now. After we went my mom teared up and said "I'm so glad you are getting to do *normal* things." Yeah, I get that. It was just an average night, I got to bring someone and have Thai food out with some of my very best friends.

Actually the dinner turned out to be rather interesting, as a man with Tourettes Syndrome ended up yelling at us and using profanity that really doesn't even cross my lips. (I have a potty mouth, so that's pretty hard to do...)

But there it was, that sense of normalcy. To get in the car and laugh till our bellies hurt from one of the most unusual dinners ever. To have someone sit at the table with me - to not be the third wheel. To let go and laugh and talk and listen to their funny stories.

My life will never be normal again. Or at least, not the normal I knew before. I went back home to my two kids, went to bed, prayed and was grateful for a moment when I got to be like my friends. My new normal includes me being alone a lot, dealing with two young kids on my own. Never getting a break unless I hire someone or my parents take the kids. My new normal includes worrying about being an only-parent. And figuring out everything around the house on my own. It means dinner for three usually has a lot of leftovers. It means happy moments with no one to share them with. Delight in watching my kids do something new, sadness that their dad isn't here to see it and share it with us.

Normal is a wonderful gift. No matter what our normal is - no matter how we define it. I feel very blessed to be approaching a new normal. To have patterns and routines. To eat Thai food on a Thursday night with people I care about.

Maybe this is a rerun of "Drive it like you stole it", applied to everyday life. But I just can't help but think about how fragile our lives are. I can't help but to wonder why some people are forced to create a new normal. I was happy with the normal I had before Jim was diagnosed. This new normal sucks. But I'm working with it. Trying to go with the flow. Eating Thai food with friends makes my new normal better.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I am Irish. I am blessed. I have two beautiful children from a man I loved dearly. I have a fabulous family. And friends that are also family.

It has been a year and a half. A year and a half of me learning that I can make it on my own. That I can be an only parent. That I am blessed because I have my children and my own health.

He was amazing. He continues to be a force in our lives and will forever be.

Tonight I raise a glass (or a bottle...) of Italian Prosecco to my husband. Heaven knows the man didn't drink Guiness. So we'll forgive him the fact that he's Italian and drink to him anyway.

Happy St. Patricks Day to my Lambchop.

Monday, March 16, 2009

How come I can't shake it?

It's like a cold. This depression just won't go away. Tomorrow it will be a year and a half since he died. It started setting in around Wednesday or Thursday. I knew it was coming and truthfully, I didn't make an effort to avoid it this time. I just let it wash over me and so far it has ruined five days of my life.

I can't escape the "feeling sorry for myself" thoughts. My life is ruined. My kids lives are ruined. Cancer ruined our lives in a blink of an eye. Cancer ruined Jim's life even faster than that.

Why didn't I avoid it? If there's one thing I'm good at, it's avoiding. Avoiding depression, avoiding the stack of dishes in the sink, avoiding the truth that he isn't coming back. I knew it was coming. I didn't have a sitter for Friday night but I thought it would be okay just this once. To stay in and just rest. But it was too much like after he died. The house was too quiet. It was too dark outside. Any kind of noise seemed to be blaring in my ear. I should have known better.

I started going out the month after the one year anniversary. So it's been nearly six months that I've been going out and having "fun". But what is fun without my husband? If he were here, I wouldn't choose to go out. I'd choose to get a movie out of that red vending machine at Wal-Mart and we'd snuggle down and watch it. I'd choose to make a dinner with him and we'd have fun talking and just making the dinner. I'd choose to get in bed early and read next to him while he flips though a Family Handyman magazine. I loved that sound. The sound of him relaxed, next to me in bed. The gentle in-and-out breath and the flick of magazine pages.

I can keep running from the depression. And I don't really think it's harmful to run from it. After all, when I let go and let it get to me I end up suffering for days on end. And my house suffers too. You should see my house. It's...unbelievable. My house is always messy. It's just not my thing. I'm the sort of person that wonders why I should make the bed if I'm just going to get in it that night. I also wonder why I have to pick up toys, etc. when I know the minute I pick them up the kids are just going to drag them out again. Anyway - the house is a mess. It doesn't get this bad when I don't let the depression get me. Now I'll spend several days trying to get it back to a state of semi-picked up, which is where it is normally.

Today is better. The last several days I've had a black cloud looming over me. Sort of like the worst part of the cold. Now I just have a residual headache and lump in my throat. I know there's a light at the end of the tunnel today. But why does it take so long to get to the darn light?

I did go out Saturday night and that helped. But I'd already let it get to me, so it just dulled the pain - didn't fix it. In another day or so I know I'll be back on the ball and raring to go. I'll be wanting to make positive changes in my life and trying to move forward. Maybe in the meantime I should enjoy the depression or wallow in it or something like that. But I loathe it. I don't like my kids to see me upset.

Can I tell you how amazing my daughter is? Want to hear the two things she's said to me lately that just knocked my socks off?

1. We were riding in the car a week or so ago and she said "Mom. Just so you know, I've been listening to you on the phone and I know you're still very sad about Daddy. It's very sad. But you know what? It's a good thing you get to go out and have fun and date Mr. K." Whoa. Did that just come out of the mouth of a 5 year old? I started laughing and crying at the same time.

2. This weekend I was in tears sitting on the couch and I told her I was sad because I missed her Daddy. She looked at me very matter-of-factly and said "Well mom, no matter what you do, he's not coming back." Youch. There's a dose of my own medicine right there.

Depression stinks. I know it will go away. And if it doesn't go away on it's own, I can thank my lucky stars that I have my daughter here to beat it out of me!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Friday Night

I said I didn't want to go out.

I wanted to rest at home.

It's quiet here.

I'm alone.

My kids are in bed.

The house is a mess.

I can't bring myself to clean it.

I can't bring myself to watch tv.

My stomach hurts.

I over ate.

Music is annoying.

My friends are all with their husbands.

The boy I like is working.

I'm done dating other boys at the moment.

Why get all dressed up and geared up to go out with mediocrity once again?

The fridge is really loud when there's no other noise.

It's dark out.

I wonder what other widows are doing tonight?

Maybe I'll try to read.

Maybe I'll write in my journal.

Maybe I'll just sit here.

I don't have the energy to do anything.

I miss Jim.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Corrugated Viking Ship

Every year the John Michael Kohler Arts Center holds a corrugated boat race where the Sheboygan River meets Lake Michigan. The race is on the 4th of July, which is a bit difficult because we've typically used that weekend to visit family or friends. But we've seen the race and it's loads of fun. This year we are staying home and we are going to participate in the race.

We're building a corrugated viking ship for the Patient Advisory Committee at the cancer clinic. Today Jim's oncologist Max, a friend and breast cancer survivor Vicki, and I all got together to start working on our corrugated boat. Last year we wanted to build one but we got the idea together too late. This year we're planning ahead. We made a model of our boat today.

Max is into sailing so he had some really neat ideas for a boat. He'd thought out a model in his head. By the time we arrived at his house he'd already cut out some of the basic shapes and coated them with a resin that we are hoping will make the ship waterproof. When we got there, we had a bunch of flat pieces of corrugated that didn't look like anything much. We got going on our ship, and Max's vision came to life.

As we applied enough hot glue to make a house, glued on strips of corrugated and reworked the corrugated to bend a bit, I thought of Jim. Of course if Jim were here we'd win hands down. We'd win for speed, but we'd also win for the sheer look of the boat. From a distance our Viking ship will look totally awesome. Get a little closer and you're going to realize that our ship is made by a group of amateurs. Jim would have had a sleek design with absolutely no glue showing. He would have folded edges and made the ship so water tight we could row across Lake Michigan.

Sometimes I am a slow worker . Put me in front of a computer and I can hammer something out in no time. Hand me a box cutter and ask me to cut a straight line? That's going to take me a while. I could just feel Jim hovering. "You know, Kate, if you just folded that in half and then cut it wouldn't take as long..." and "Can I help you with that?" - that was code for "I'm ready to take over this project now." I could feel the frustration mounting in his chest as I s.l.o.w.l.y. cut lines, used the glue gun and used the clamps to keep the strips on the ship. (I should mention that Vicki and Max work much faster than me - they could have put out the boat in less time without me there, but at least I took a number of pictures!) I could feel him right behind me, eyes boring into my back. It's sort of the same control feeling I have watching my kids work with clay or try and paint something. It takes all of my strength to keep my hands off their projects or suggest "improvements". I knew if he was here, the boat would be magnificent. And he would have pretty much singlehandedly finished it because he knew his work would be faster and more exact.

Today's ship was just a model. But the model looked so amazing. It went from flat corrugated to a real ship. The final product is going to end up around 16 feet long. I hope we represent the Vince and the PAC well. I hope our finished product, although made by amateurs, will float and represent Jim well. I hope he knows I'm excited about this project because of him. Anytime I touch corrugated I think of Jim. It's impossible not to. But today I felt him there with us. Not just his frustration, but also excitement. The corrugated boat race isn't for months to come. But today I got the feeling that he'd be with us every step of the way.