Jenny asked me to “guest post” today because she has to work. What to write about? I mean I don’t craft and I don’t bake. I don’t have a list of 1300 things I want to do before I die. Well…I do, but it is technically Jenny’s list. I am going to take this opportunity to tell my side of the story.
Jenny and I met at the Wild West nightclub in Tucson, Arizona. I was there with a bunch of my buddies to celebrate my upcoming graduation from the University of Arizona. I won’t lie, at 10pm I was drunk. College graduation drunk if that gives an appropriate frame of reference. Then something strange happened. I stopped drinking. A small detail that changed that night and the rest of my life.
You see, I met Jenny at 12:30am and was sober when I met her. Drunk Jeff would have been a turn off to Jenny, who is the granddaughter of a Southern Baptist preacher and a good girl. What’s funny is that Jenny was in bed the night we met when some nurses and paramedics dragged her out of bed at 9pm and to the club. It was the first time at age 24 years that she was in a night club. It wasn’t part of her nature.
After getting twirled around the dance floor by a guy in his 50s Jenny wanted to leave. But her friends convinced her to stay and they ventured into the part of the club where my friends and I were dancing. She was promptly warned not to approach this group of guys. My group of 8 friends and I were dancing with each other, with no girls around. We continued to dance and about 12:30, it happened. I turned around to make fun of one of my friends. My friend that had been standing behind me was replaced by Jenny. So, I made fun of my friend to Jenny. She laughed. I remember liking her smile. And we started talking and I got her phone number.
I called Jenny about a week later in the afternoon on Mother’s Day. The first part of the conversation was terrible. It sounded like she had no interest in talking to me at all. Then, out of nowhere, the conversation was great! We set up a date for next week.
We went on our first date and had a great time. Unbelievable time, actually. We talked and talked, and she was unlike anybody I had ever met before. The next afternoon, after my classes were over, my roommate handed me an envelope that had been left on the front porch. It was a letter from Jenny with a picture of her and a little girl. In the note Jenny wrote that she had a great time but felt it was wrong that she hadn’t told me that she had a daughter. Her friends had suggested that she just go out and have fun, instead of sharing her story on a first date. Jenny wished me well on my future golf career.
Wow, that was a curveball I wasn’t expecting. It explained why the first part of our conversation on Mother’s Day was so awful. Seems that she was trying to get someone to take Rebecca from her arms so that she could go outside and talk to me.
I called Jenny and simply told her ”Your daughter is beautiful.” I told her that I didn’t know whether I was ready to date someone with a child. I didn’t know if I could love someone else’s daughter. But I did know that she was different and I knew that I wanted her in my life. Even if she was just a friend. She was easy to talk to.
We met the next day and things slowed down for approximately 2 hours. Then I just kissed her. Jenny laughed, and said “I don’t normally kiss my friends.” I met Rebecca a couple of weeks later, and I fell hard. I had already fallen for Jenny and now I loved a child beyond belief. I knew quickly that I could love Rebecca like my own, and that I was ready. Jenny and I were married within 6 months. We ran off to Las Vegas and got married in the chapel at the Imperial Palace. Just the two of us.
Jenny has done so much for me. She supported me when I was playing professional golf. She put me through law school. I was really excited to graduate and get a good paying job so that I could pay her back and let her stay home with the kids. Unfortunately, it was not in the cards because of breast cancer. Thousands of dollars of bills accumulated (even with health insurance). Cancer sucks, bottom line.
People often ask Jenny and I what we remember from cancer? Honestly, Jenny and I don’t like to talk about cancer. As you can tell from her blog, Jenny tries to keep her focus on moving forward. And that time just sucked and is pretty painful to remember. But when I do stop to think about it, I remember.
I remember laying in bed with Jenny watching TV when she asked me to feel something on the side of her breast.
I remember the relief when the ultrasound showed a smooth cyst. It had to be removed but no worries, as it was something that ran in Jenny’s family.
I remember the surgeon telling me that she would definitely know if there was a problem when she went in to take it out.
I remember the look on the surgeon’s face two days later when she told me that she couldn’t give me a definitive answer about whether she thought it was cancer or not. She couldn’t look me in the eye.
I remember wondering what this meant for our 3 kids. Was I going to be a single parent? Was I going to lose her?
I remember realizing that if I lost Jenny, that I would probably lose Becca as well. She would have to go live with her biological father.
I remember going with Jenny to shave our heads on our 5th wedding anniversary, and laughing and then crying with her friend Stephanie.
I remember Jenny’s perfectly round shaved head.
I remember Jenny’s eyelashes falling out.
I remember the chemo cycle. 3 days of Jenny feeling okay, 7 days of Jenny barely being able to function, and then 4 days of Jenny starting to feel better. And then repeat 7 more times.
I remember the support from friends and family.
I remember the tension in our house.
I remember that it was the worst time in my life. Making plans for the future seemed too ambitious and presumptuous.
I remember being tired. In fact, I remember being more tired for the 8 months after cancer treatment than the 8 months that she was being treated.
I remember being told that we would not be able to have more children. And then I remember Jenny crying as she thought that cancer had robbed her of one more choice in her life.
I remember feeling that we were owed something, entitled almost, because we had to go through it.
I remember realizing that there were a lot of people out there facing more difficult struggles and that many of Jenny’s fellow patients hadn’t gotten through treatment at all.
I remember trying to recover financially from the bills and going 8 months without any income from Jenny.
Part 2 to come tomorrow. (If Jenny will let me). Go here to read part 2.Tweet