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, November 23, 2010

2,340 Weeks

It's a new week around here. It's a new chapter.

John asked me to marry him this weekend, and I said yes.

Engagement as a 38 year old widow is much different than it was as a 21 year old girl. This time I have a built-in flower girl and ring bearer. (I actually have two of each, because John's niece and nephew are a big part of our lives, seeing as how they are also my best friend's children...)

At 21 years old, I remember coming home to my parents' house and being stressed because we couldn't find a church with a center aisle. I remember being frustrated because I didn't like any of the available reception locations. I remember combing every detail of the actual wedding day - the flowers, the linens on the tables, the dress...everything. We were so into the actual day. Jim had picked a lovely round-cut diamond solitaire ring. It was so traditional and beautiful. Now I have that ring set aside for Rachel for when she's ready to marry.

At 38 years old, I called my parents and told them. And then I wrote my in-laws and told them. And then I cried.

Not because I'm not happy. I am. John is truly one of a kind. It is my great honor to be engaged to him.

I cried for my in-laws, I cried for Jim. I cried for me and the kids and what will never be. I cried for John, knowing what he's facing. After all, he's marrying someone that will always love him, but will also love someone else. I believe that I have enough love in my life that I can give my whole self to John. But I also believe that there is a place inside me for Jim and what we had. When John asked me to marry him, he told me that he wanted to be a father to my kids. He's willing to take on another man's children and treat them as his own. That's a really big deal. And while my kids are totally awesome, they are also totally normal. There's going to be good days and bad, and I'm certain there are going to be days that John wonders what in the world he signed up for. I cried for my parents and my brothers, who all loved Jim as their own family.

I cried for John's family, as they will have to adjust to me and two kids. That's a tall order. And I cried because John's mom passed away this summer shortly before we started dating. I knew his mom a little bit through his sister. I've been talking to his mom a lot since we started dating, and more often in the last few weeks. Trying to sort it all out. Letting her know that I love him and that I have good intentions. And I've been talking to Jim. I wondered if the two of them are together in heaven - nodding their heads in approval, or vehemently shaking their heads in a tremendous collective "NO!". So far I haven't been struck by lightening so I take that as a good sign.

There's a lot more to think about when you're engaged at 38...and none of it has to do with the flowers or the ring or the actual wedding. It has to do with financial obligation, how we'll adjust in our jobs, whose name the kids and I take (or keep), where we will live and how we'll divide our time. It has to do with being responsible and showing the kids how to manage a marriage based on love. It has to do with melding two completely separate lives and how we mesh strong personalities. It has to do with respecting the people we love.

It seems that John and I haven't been dating that long. Just over five months. I wasn't expecting him to ask me to marry him. I had actually had a bad "Jim week" the week before. Missing Jim. I had a nightmare about Jim that made me physically ill. I had a parenting mishap in which I really lost my cool, and John came to my house while I was still trying to recover. Truthfully I was sort of hanging around waiting for John to dump me. If this guy can still love me through the week I had last week, he's got a pretty darn strong constitution.

But you know, Jim and I got engaged after only eight months. And for heaven's sakes, I was only 21 years old. Jim and I figured it out. We figured out pretty fast that marriage didn't have anything to do with the actual wedding. Here we are, nearly 20 years later, and I'm pretty sure I know what I'm doing. At the beginning of the summer when John and I were just friends, he asked me what I was looking for in a guy. And I told him that, short of sounding like a crystal touting weirdo, I was looking for a feeling...not qualities. I was right on the mark with that statement. It's not whether a guy is tall or has money or has blond hair and blue eyes. It's that sense of adventure. It's the twinkle in his eye. It's the way I feel safe and giddy at the same time. It's how he helps figuratively put my world in order. It's how he accepts me for what and who I am, and I find that I have the ability to do the same with him.

Starting once again on something new. It's so exciting and so rife with emotion. We get to go to Chicago soon and pick out my ring. And we get to plan a wedding...and you wouldn't believe the ideas that have been tossed around. And I get to think about a dress (? - yikes!) and flowers. At 21, I would have been totally into those things. (And those of you that know me know I love jewelry, so I'm not going to pretend that I'm not excited about the ring...) But at 38 what I think about most is John and the time I'll get to spend with him. I actually got giddy the other day, thinking about the fact that I'll get 20 years in with him before we're my parents' age. I'll get 30 years in with him before we're his dad's age. I think about looking at his eyes and how they look like his mom's. I think about seeing him laugh. I think about how he can get downright silly with me, which blows my socks off every time...because John could be characterized as many things, but I don't think "silly" is one of them. I think about him lying on the floor reading to the kids. Or him playing the guitar and all of us quiet, relaxed, and enjoying what he can create. I think about Rachel holding his hand and Jake having a good strong male influence in his life. I think about loving someone for the rest of my life. I think about what wedding vows actually mean, and that "In sickness and in health" is not something I will just gloss through when I finally say it again. I think about making his family proud - hopefully that he chose the right person, but also that they see how much I love him. I think about my family and hope that they will embrace him and love him for who he is. I think about resting my head on his shoulder and holding his hand. About how he smells and how warm his hugs are. About the nights we get to sit and talk and have a fire in the fireplace. And the nights I will desert him in favor of hanging with my girlfriends.

He did the math. We have about 2,340 weeks together. Give or take a few. I told him he's not allowed to do a countdown because it will make me uptight. Even when we're 80 I want to feel like I still have 2,340 weeks left with him. (Literally I believe we have 2,398 and I got nervous about the two week difference.)

John is a remarkable, smart, funny, romantic man. Any day I get to spend with him is a blessing. I am lucky to love him and to be loved by him. My brother Kevin pointed out to me that there's no point in going through this life if we can't be happy. And I believe we have opportunities to create our own happiness. When Jim died, it seemed I would never be happy again. And many of my days in the past three years have been flat out miserable. I will have more sad days, but I'm dedicated to being joyful and creating happiness in my life. I'm dedicated to loving John and committing to that kind of happiness - for me and John, but also for my kids.

Thank you, John, for offering me the opportunity to make our own happiness together. For loving me and allowing me to love you. For committing to me for the next 2,340 weeks. I promise to love and appreciate you for the time we have.


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