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, March 14, 2010

...And the fog lifts

Last week was by far my worst week of 2010. I'm expecting to have more. But I'm expecting to have less than I did in 2009. I'm expecting to have at least half of what I did in 2007-2008.

My friend Emily sent me a note on Facebook and mentioned that I needed to let some things go. That I shouldn't expect to do everything in a straight line - that it's okay to dance, move, zig zag and weave through life. I do have some major control issues. Yes, sir. I certainly do. I do believe that some (if not most) of my depression stems from my control issues. I'm not getting anything done. It's hard to focus. So I half-a$% everything. It's frustrating.

What she pointed out was that she's really great at some things. Pretty good at others. And then there are things she just totally sucks at. And she's okay with that. Oh, to be When I left my therapist's office the week before last, my therapist hugged me and said "Kate...take it *easy* on yourself!". Well I wasn't really listening. I mean, I was. Because I like what my therapist says to me. But when Emily wrote and said that it's okay to totally suck at some things, I laughed. I could relate to that statement.

I know it's okay to have cereal for dinner. I know it's okay to let some things go. But part of my depression last week stemmed from the realization that I haven't actually improved things at home - I've just outsourced more. I now have a cleaning woman and a yard service. Those are the two things I absolutely despise doing. Lots of other families in Kohler have someone clean their house for them. I'm not sure why it's a hangup for me, except to say that I was raised by the world's most perfect stay-at-home-mom that was a marathoner, mowed the lawn, cleaned the house and always had time to make real dinners, bake real cookies, and spend time with us kids. I can't keep up with everything. I'm not a dive-into-grief-by-being-ultra-organized kind of girl. I'm more of a dive-into-grief-by-being-crabby-and-sad kind of girl. Crabby and sad do not equate to a clean house and perfectly cooked meals for me. They equate to girlscout cookies and wine.

Despite my mood last week, I did get some things done. And I started a few things I've been meaning to do and haven't for around two years. I managed to pull out of my mood by this weekend. Friday night I went out to a movie with my friends Liz and Tom, and Eric. It was fun. We went for a drink afterward and it was nice to get dressed up and go out. Saturday I did two things I haven't done in years. Eric came over and we made a dinner out of Cooking Light. I think the last time I did that, Jim and I made a pork tenderloin BBQ. (ie. Jim was still healthy and able to grill at the very least it was probably 3 1/2 to 4 years ago.) The dinner Eric and I made was fabulous. Mustard pork chops, mashed sweet potatoes and steamed green beans. It was yum. And I made a Gooey Butter Cake. I can't honestly remember the last time I made a Gooey Butter Cake. It's my Aunt Kate's recipe, and it's seriously awesome. It's happiness and fat in a 13x9 pan. It's one of those things - I always felt like there was no point in making real desserts unless Jim was here. Cupcakes - no problem. But a real dessert? What for?

Wednesday it will have been 2 1/2 years. Where in the world does the time go? It seems like yesterday since he died. It seems like it's been forever since he died. I definitely seem to live in Dog Years since he died. One week seems like a lifetime. It was an odd week. It was my closest week to how I felt since he died. I couldn't get a handle on anything. I wandered the house at night. I couldn't watch tv. Couldn't focus. My patience was short. I didn't sleep well - I tossed and turned and I had nightmares about cancer, among other things. I smiled and looked happy when I saw people in public but I was just dead on the inside. My jaw and teeth hurt from clamping my teeth at night.

There's nothing I can do but wait this out. So far, things seem better. It was a good weekend. Tomorrow kicks off a new week. I love and loathe St. Patrick's Day now. It used to be my favorite holiday. I guess it still is. But I would much prefer it if it wasn't the 1/2 year marker of Jim's passing. 2 1/2 years. When he died I didn't honestly know if I could survive 2 1/2 days without him. I am surviving. I'm hanging on. There's a light at the end of every tunnel. I see the light. I know it will get better. Last week was dark, but this week I'm catching up with the light. I can do it. It doesn't have to be perfect. It just has to be what I can manage. And I'm trying to remember what Emily and my therapist said - it's okay to totally suck at some things.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Funeral Blues

At the risk of being cliche, I'm posting the W.H. Auden poem. It's so...fitting. I've been tempted to post it before but I always thought it was too negative. Well, that's where I am today.

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He is Dead.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W.H. Auden

Thursday, March 04, 2010

The "me" I always wanted to be

Childhood was not my bag. Don't get me wrong - I had a great childhood growing up. My parents are awesome. My home was a safe haven where I could be who ever I wanted. I was raised in a very comfortable home where I very rarely had to do without. If ever. My mom stayed home and I swear it, there were cookies and milk waiting for us every day when we got home. Despite much teasing from my brothers and me, my mom packed us a lunch every day that had all four food groups represented. I wasn't a "hot lunch" kind of girl. I wanted something from home. My mom literally made my lunch every day all the way through high school. My dad was the kind of dad that taught us to drive. He went to every one of our swim meets after being away on business all week. They'd sit all day in a sweltering hot pool area to watch me lose my one or two events. The hardest part of my childhood was the fact that we moved every two years or so with my dad's job - in the end I think that worked out in my favor because I'm able to make friends with a brick wall at this point.

Anyway, my point is, I had a great home life. But I just never...liked being a kid. I never got comfortable. It never seemed right. Even when I was in high school I'd look around and think "Ugh. Another day in another place where I don't fit in." I talked to my friend Tom the other night and he asked if I was going to our class reunion. 20 years this year. Wow. Um, no. I won't be going. Tom asked me why people call me Kate now instead of Kathleen. All through high school my name was Kathleen. So I started explaining...

No one (besides my family) really *got* me until I hit college. In grade school I was a dork. In high school they thought I was fake. Or bitchy. Or...I don't know. But I know they didn't like me. I hit college and ... magic. They got me. My roommate my freshman year told me my name was too long. So we changed it to Kate. Just like that - my life started. Somehow shedding the name Kathleen was like shedding my childhood and I was suddenly the person I was meant to be. Or, more to the point, I was the person I always was...but more people got it. It seemed right. Now I r.e.a.l.l.y. dislike being called Kathleen. (Except by my family - they're allowed.)

I went to see the therapist yesterday and I tried to explain some of my relationship with Jim. She was able to very accurately pinpoint some things for me that I have not been able to articulate. So here's more on the story: I met Jim in college. So he never knew me as anything but Kate. And when I met Jim - more of the pieces of my life fell into place. It was almost like I was dyslexic on life before I met Jim. I was getting by, but not at optimum performance. He sort of...relaxed my brain and unscrambled life for me. It really was like that. Jim got me. He knew me. He knew me and put up with me. More than that. He knew me and loved me. Jim's love made everything right in my world. Everything made sense. There was a reason for everything. We made goals together. We talked about...everything. Jim was NOT the great communicator. So when I say that what I actually mean is that I talked about everything and Jim listened and contributed something significant when I paused my chattering for a second. Jim and I were a great team. I think I've mentioned before - he was my rock. He kept me tethered to the earth. And in turn, I think I dragged Jim into doing a lot of fun things that he probably wouldn't have done on his own. I was in charge of making friends. I was in charge of our social life, vacations, food and parties. Basically, I got to do all the fun stuff that Jim just didn't want to deal with. Jim was in charge of our house, yard care, and...all things stable or roots-like. All that stuff I didn't want to deal with. I could be my flaky self with Jim. I could be the fun one. I could And he loved me anyway.

I was trying to explain all this to the therapist and I just started to cry. Nothing seems right in the world. There's no purpose. I know I'm supposed to keep going and doing for my kids. But just like in high school - none of this makes sense anymore. What am I just treading through life for? I'm not really living. I'm just surviving. I'm just making it day to day. Every morning I dread getting up. Another day when I function but really have no idea what's going on. You can't tell by looking at me that my world doesn't make sense, just like you can't tell by looking at someone that they have dyslexia. Every morning when I'm lying there in bed, dreading getting up, I try and give myself a pep talk... "Today I'm going to be the "me" I always wanted to be." I try and be responsible. To follow through on the tasks that I dread. To make the calls I'm supposed to make. To make my kids lunches and clean the house and do the laundry and study and volunteer at the school. To pay the bills, shovel the walk, take out the trash, change lightbulbs and cook balanced healthy meals. But a lot of days (read: every day) I get to about 4:00 pm and I just can't do another thing. I literally can't make myself go another inch.

So I'm telling her this and I'm sobbing. And she takes a long pause and says "Kate, you're completely exhausted. You said yourself that you really stepped it up and you were the responsible one when Jim got sick. And you've been responsible since he died. You are experiencing something of an identity crisis. Now you can't be just you. You have to be Jim, too." When she said that I really got messy. Because THAT is why I'm so tired. That's why even if I take a vacation it's not enough. I still have to come back and be two people. If I take the vacation with my kids I don't even get to leave and be me. I have to be both of us the whole time.

THIS IS NOT THE LIFE I PLANNED. Man, I was smart at 22. I chose someone who filled in everything I was missing. I imagine I did that for Jim. (At least I like to think I did!) We created a life that had a natural division of labor as we saw fit. Jim's side of the load was r-e-a-l-l-y heavy, but it was a fit for him. If I was the one who died, there's a strong possibility that he'd go to work every day. He'd feed the kids and get by. He'd manage the house and the grass would be cut. He'd be able to keep up with that stuff. But he wouldn't have the group of friends I have. He wouldn't be setting up little playdates for the kids. He would keep in contact with his best buddies from out of town, but making friends and having a social circle would not be his deal. That's not to say Jim wasn't fun. He most certainly was. He was the wittiest guy I knew and *everyone* loved him. But really putting himself out there was not Jim's forte.

So I'm waking up every day. And I'm not being the "me" I always wanted to be. I'm being me and Jim. And lemme tell ya, trying to fill Jim's shoes totally sucks. Jim was larger than life. He was responsible. He was a rock. He was a force to be reckoned with. And I was always happy Flaky fun Kate. I imagine that Jim was willing to put up with my flakiness for the fun. He loved that I got so excited about silly stuff. More people get me now. I love that. I really do. It's wonderful to be an adult. I wouldn't trade a second of what has happened in my life. It's made me a better person. But I miss having Jim here to help me relax my brain and unscramble life. I miss having him to lean on. I miss dragging him to things that he wasn't sure he wanted to do. I miss him. And I miss being fun.