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!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Word of Grace

I'm back at church, you know. I dropped off at the beginning of last summer. I got sort of angry and bitter. I said I wasn't mad at God, but maybe I was.

I wasn't raised in a religion. My folks believe in God, but they decided when I was a kid that as long as we know who God is and what he means that we would find God in our own way. (Mom and Dad, correct me if I'm wrong on that.) My Dad always says he finds he's closest to God in nature. To be sure, their home up in the northwoods is something of a sanctuary where I believe they both have found the peace, renewal, and spirit that is God.

Jim was raised Presbyterian. He always said that he thought he got core values from the church. But far beyond that, he got a sense of community. His church was really awesome. We spent our marriage trying different churches - looking for something that resembled the church and the pastor that he had as a child. Because I wasn't raised in a religion, I didn't feel a pressing need to get into a church - I've always believed I had a great relationship with God and didn't need a church to feel it or to talk to God.

When we hit Word of Grace, we knew we'd hit home. Pastor Kirby...spoke to me. The atmosphere...spoke to me. The coffee bar, the band, the Sunday school - all were things I could relate to. But you know what meant the most? The people. I think a good pastor fosters that. The people at Word of Grace are genuinely happy to see you. They are just so dang NICE! It's a sense of community. I love it.

So I'd become disenchanted, and then Pastor Kirby took a job in Oklahoma and I was *really* annoyed. Um, hello? Does he think it's okay to just up and leave after 19 years at this church? Huh. Well okay, if you want to be closer to family, etc. - rather then stay here with me, then fine. ;)

In November, people started asking me to come back. Try the new pastor. They said he was wonderful. *Snort* Right. Wonderful. As wonderful as Pastor Kirby? They said yes. My friends Barb and Mark are so very sincere. When Mark told me to give it another try - just one try, I listened.

Here I am back at Word of Grace. My church home. The place I love. The new pastor? He's awesome. Pastor Glenn is someone I can relate to. He has young kids. He's energetic. He never once claims to be perfect. In fact I very much relate to his self-deprecating sense of humor. He's funny. He can get loud when he's excited. I love that. But most of all, I can feel his passion radiating off the stage. I can feel it wash over us and it makes me happy to be there once again.

For the last month of so, guess who has been coming to church with me? Eric. He was raised Lutheran and I'm pretty sure he thinks we bite the heads off live chickens at Word of Grace when he's not looking. But he likes the music. He likes the pastor. He likes that his son comes out of Sunday school excited.

Two weeks ago I was in church with Eric. We were next to my friends Susan and Ken. During the music, I looked over and Ken and Susan had their hands locked, and they were swinging them to the music. They were so happy. And all the disenchantment I felt with the church melted off - just like that. I realized that part of my disenchantment was that I just didn't like to sit there in church by myself. I like being there with Eric. I like getting into discussions about the church or religion with Eric and my friends. I look and Ken and Susan and know that that's the kind of relationship I want in my life again - just like Jim and I had. Just like I believe Eric and I are forming now.

I talked to my friends Lisa and Amy about it, and Lisa pointed out that people need to worship in different ways. She said she would be okay with being totally alone at church - that she's there to learn and be in the presence of God. And I thought "Well I'm that way too!"...but really, I'm not that way any more. When I was younger I honestly didn't need a church or anyone else to have a relationship with God. And I still don't need that now - I think God and I are on pretty familiar terms. (He certainly has heard enough from me!) But what I do need is that sense of community. I need to hear from a pastor that I trust and respect. I need to be surrounded by people that are willing to lift me up and push me forward. I love sitting there with Eric - holding hands and listening to him sing. I love watching my friend Barb up on stage singing - her enthusiasm is infectious. I like sitting near Ken and Susan and getting the sense that everything is going to be okay for me too. I will find love again. I will be able to open up, accept friendship and love. I will be able to move forward. It's sort of like being at the gym - I feel better working out with other people. It makes me want to do more and push a little further than I would on my own.

Thanks to my own little spiritual community - to the attendees at Word of Grace, to Pastor Glenn for building that sense of community, to Susan and Ken, Barb and Mark, Amy and Biz, Lisa, Candace, Vicki and Sandoval, Susan and Russ, Mike and Maureen...and to Eric. Thanks to the girls in my former Bible study, and so many other people I look forward to seeing on Sundays. You make me feel welcome. And I enjoy church again.

Just like that. I realize I like to be there with someone I love. I like to be there with friends. I like to be there and listen to Pastor Glenn. I'm not mad anymore, God. I just needed a break.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Yeah, therapy is worth it

In the past I've associated therapy know, crazy people. (Like I'm not crazy?!) Nonetheless, starting therapy wasn't easy for me. I went to a therapist shortly after Jim died that I liked, but I didn't feel that I was taking away from my sessions what I could. I decided to try again with a new therapist that someone recommended to me.

I like this therapist. She's everything I'm not. Soft-spoken. Delicate. Thoughtful. Something about her makes me really quiet down. Take a moment. Listen. Think.

When I saw her last week, I explained to her that I've really been struggling with Jim. I'm struggling getting by most days without him. I miss him so much it sickens me. I watch my kids missing him and that sickens me even more. I am angry and mournful. This is not the life I was planning on.

I have been struggling with this, in part, because I've really been enjoying my time with Eric. If I'm having such fun with Eric, how can I still feel so sick and miserable without Jim? I never compare them. They are two totally different men. There's literally almost nothing similar about them, save for a unique ability to put up with me. When I hang out with Eric, I'm not sad about Jim. We have a great time laughing and talking, and he listens to my stories about Jim. There are a lot of stories about Jim, of course.

So when I talked to the therapist about it last week, she suggested that I am perhaps waiting for some sort of a milestone or event before I can give up some of my misery. Know what the number one thing she pointed out was? If you call our home phone, Jim's voice is still on the voicemail. I just haven't been able to take it off yet. But her suggestion wasn't that it was a physical milestone or event - it's perhaps a mental milestone or event I'm waiting for. Okay. That makes sense to me.

I thought about that a lot. I meditated on it. In the morning when I got up, I decided that perhaps it IS a mental block I'm trying to get past - but that quite possibly my mental hurdle is also caused by some of the physical hurdles I've allowed to continue on in the house. I think I mentioned that I moved Jim's tools a few months ago. That was tough. But you know, it's a change. Maybe what I need is a bit of a change. So I finally, after 2 years, packed up his boxers and tshirts. I saved a few, but not many. Somehow, Jim actually used more drawer space than me. After he died I cleared out his shirts, pants (I'm having the shirts and pants made into quilts for the kids), and socks, but hung on to some of his stuff. I just wasn't ready to get rid of things that were so distinctly...Jim. Up until this past week he's actually still had around 40% of the drawer space in our house!

So I'm hoping that maybe making some physical changes will help me overcome some of the mental issues. That being said, I'm going to be taking Jim's voice off our voicemail soon. If you would like to hear Jim's voice, please call the house during the day over the next week or two. I'll change the message when I muster the gumption. Making changes is difficult. I miss him so much. With every step I wonder if I'm letting more of him go. But I also don't want to continue on in the same misery I'm feeling now.