Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A thankful Anniversary

Today is the anniversary of the night Steven and I exchanged "vows" on our own. It seems like yesterday. Fortunately, I wrote down my thoughts immediately after we talked, so I have a detailed account of the entire event. It was very tough to reread after a year, but I am so thankful for those moments. I guess I want to repost what I wrote in a comment last year, as a way to honor this day and our love. I also want to use this day as a chance to remember what commitment means...not my commitment to him, but the honor and love he showed me for three years, taking care of me and bringing me more happiness in those three years than I could hope to experience in a lifetime.

A conversation led to him pulling out the ring MawMaw gave him to give to me. I took Poppie's ring out of my jewelry box, where we were saving it until the day we made the commitment "official." However, as I've said, and as he and I discussed that night, our commitment began nearly the day we met. On one of the motivation posters we made, we began a list of things he wanted to accomplish in his life. One day I returned from school, and he had written "Jenny Rae Hawkins." I am so thankful MawMaw and Poppie gave us the chance to make that "official" commitment, as he wanted to do. Though the pain still is intense, I have faith our souls will meet again, somehow. I love you Sunshine.

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I don't know what to say, but I want to try to convey my love for Steve. After Steve left us, I stayed up and just wrote. Anything I try to write now won't satisfy me, so I decided to just post what I wrote that night...

Steven and I's assigned cubicle chairs in the Economics Department our first year of graduate school were probably no more than six feet apart. He sat behind my left shoulder, and I behind his left shoulder. We both are lefthanded, which meant to glance left-back at the other, the pencil had to be paused. I knew, and I knew Steven knew, a prolonged pencil pause from problem solving meant "I'm stuck". What else do you do but look left-back at your new classmate to see if his pencil pause might mean he is stuck, too? So during the first few weeks of school, two simultaneous pencil pauses and glances left-back led to study partners. Study partners led to best friends, and quickly we knew we were soul mates.

I wouldn't say I knew or even believed in the concept of a soul mate before I met Steven, but I can't explain our relationship any other way. One day during math camp, while discussing some math problem, I realized looking into his big blue eyes was distracting me from figuring out this math problem! I knew our friendship would be something more from that day forward. No matter how determined I was to make graduate school the only focus in life, I couldn't ignore that the blue eyes of my study partner-turned-friend were making me blush.

We realized quickly we were such a great team. We called ourselves the Green Machine, because one day a few of our classmates pointed out we were both wearing mostly green, seemingly coordinated clothing. We understood each other's weaknesses, and found even those weaknesses beautiful. I told Steven one day I knew he truly loved me because all my weaknesses to him were lovable...what a sweetheart. We each had a soul that only felt true happiness and comfort when the other's was always near. We frequently discussed that even if something did tear us apart physically, as it now has, those souls were joined as the Green Machine, and that's why we considered ourselves soul mates.

Love is expressed through actions and not defined by a word. There are many types of boyfriends and husbands, but a soul mate is just that. Steven gave me a ring several weeks ago, passed down to him from MawMaw, and we held our own private commitment ceremony. Steven was given his Popi's wedding ring a few years ago, so I put it on his finger, and he didn't take the ring off from that evening on. But the ceremony felt silly -- between the trials of graduate school and our illness, our commitment was proven long ago.

We had 36 months together, for which we lived a lifetime.

Luckily, we realized this often. We truly were in shock for how much love we had for each other. We had each other to cry with during the many emotional periods of graduate school. We realized often some of our best memories were just talking and laughing at night for a few hours after an exhausting 18-hour day. In fact, the majority of our time together was spent at our cubicles, the basement of the law library, or the health sciences library. We studied, rather than went on real dates, but loved (nearly) every moment. We absolutely never grew tired of each other under so many stressful circumstances. Our chemistry naturally allowed us to be so patient with each other. During any time we could take off, we tried to take it together and had a no-more-than-three-days-apart rule. I guess being around someone so many hours, day after day, time apart was absolutely devastating. We never grew tired of each other, which constantly amazed us. We traveled together during a few breaks and have wonderful memories of our adventures.

Few have the opportunity to spend nearly every hour of every day with their best friend. For the first 25 months of knowing each other, we estimated that on average, no more than four hours per day were spend not by each other's side. What a blessing I have been given to have been able to live so much with him during such a short time.

We agreed from the day of his diagnosis we would fight as a team. His soul is so precious, I couldn't do less than fight this battle as hard as I could with him. We still had happy memories, like relaxing walks in the Foothills, dancing to the great songs suggested by his supporters, discussions about economics, and nighttime talks. During these ten months, we tried so hard to find good and stay positive. I would ask him often what happiness he found that day. Especially the past few months, I would ask him before going to bed, hoping he didn't find any day unimportant or uneventful, but we always found moments of success and
happiness existed in every day. A few hours before he left us, we kissed during a moment he was feeling overwhelmed, and after our lips locked he said "That was a good one!" That was a gift Steven shared with many of us -- staying calm during a rough situation. These past ten months were more brutal than most could imagine; yet all of us who saw his suffering also saw him never complain.

I found my soul mate, so I don't feel I said goodbye to Steven tonight. I had to let Steven physically go, but I was so fortunate to lay by his side with his amazing parents, sister and brother. Steven was a special gift to me, but his entire family has been an extra blessing for which my gratitude and love can't be expressed. I feel so lucky to have that big fireball of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandma, parents, brother and sister in my life.

A song by Michelle Featherstone, titled "I'm there too" has always been in the back of my mind for the past ten months. I recall he and I lying on the bed, discussing these lyrics in detail. How would our souls still be together when we were physically apart? We talked about this often. We never could have imagined this parting could be ten months away. Once he was diagnosed, we mourned the life we very likely wouldn't have together growing old. Later, we mourned the likelihood we might not have children. But I never imagined ten months. I haven't wanted to listen to this song since his diagnosis, but now, a few hours after Steven has left me physically, I yearn to hear the words:

I see myself in you
In everything you do
And when you’re all alone at night
You know I am by your side
Cuz I’m there too

I see me in your eyes
And I’m the tears you cry
And when you fall apart
And are dying from a broken heart
I’m there too

I see your footsteps in the sand
As you journey on across this land
But if you should fall on your way
Then I will carry you that day
Cuz I’m there
I’m there too
Yeah I’m there too

I see your face in mine
And I know there’ll come a time
When you will take my hand
And I will understand
That you’re there too
When you will take my hand
And I will understand
That you’re there
You’re there too


I love you Steven.

10 comments:

GoldenAngelsWorks said...

That was so beautiful!
You both definitely did live a lifetime together in such a short time. I am so happy that the two of you were given that gift of love.

May you always remember your love and may the day come when you both can be together again.

Only few find someone that they can call soul mate and until you do... you never know the blessings created from feeling such a love.

Mudge said...

Thank you, Jenny, for the beauty you brought into our lives. I'm certain I will never experience again in my lifetime what I had the privilege to witness as you stood by Steven and cared for him. He never complained because you made him so happy and encouraged him through every minute of every day. We are indebted to you and so thankful he made you a part of our family. Jean

Lynn said...

Jenny,
I remember when Maw-Maw called me and said that she had good and bad news. I asked her to start with the good; she said that Steven was going to give you the diamond ring, I was so excited I almost forgot to ask her what the bad news was, but she continued and said the bad news was it was the diamond ring she has aked me to wear for a while.

I remember crying (of course) and saying there was NO bad news and I was so happy that Steven was going to pass it on to you. I was thrilled that you were officially in the "Manos" clan. I asked Mom how this came up, and she said that one time when she saw Steven, she mentioned that she had a diamond ring and if he ever needed it, it was his. She said he answered immediately that he wanted to get you a ring, but due to his circumstances, he was unable to...My mom was so happy telling me the story. I admired her generousity, but mostly her insight.

So everytime we saw you two we would be looking for the ring and when you and Steven told us about your special vows, I think my mom and I cried all the way home. The relationship you and Steven had, I believe, reminded my mom of her and my dad. A very special bond- a very special love.

I am so glad and proud that you a member of our faumily, it was one of the many gifts,(the best one) that Steven gave us during his lifetime.

I love you Jenny....

Lynn said...

Hi Jenny,
I was playing some songs today, and one of my favorites is from the movie Juno. When I listed to the lyrics, they remind me of you and Steven, so I decided to post them. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do:

If I was a flower growing wild and free
All I'd want is you to be my sweet honey bee.
And if I was a tree growing tall and greeen
All I'd want is you to shade me and be my leaves

All I want is you, will you be my bride
Take me by the hand and stand by my side
All I want is you, will you stay with me?
Hold me in your arms and sway me like the sea.

If you were a river in the mountains tall,
The rumble of your water would be my call.
If you were the winter, I know I'd be the snow
Just as long as you were with me, let the cold winds
blow

All I want is you, will you be my bride
Take me by the hand and stand by my side
All I want is you, will you stay with me?
Hold me in your arms and sway me like the sea.

If you were a wink, I'd be a nod
If you were a seed, well I'd be a pod.
If you were the floor, I'd wanna be the rug
And if you were a kiss, I know I'd be a hug

All I want is you, will you be my bride
Take me by the hand and stand by my side
All I want is you, will you stay with me?
Hold me in your arms and sway me like the sea.

If you were the wood, I'd be the fire.
If you were the love, I'd be the desire.
If you were a castle, I'd be your moat,
And if you were an ocean, I'd learn to float.

All I want is you, will you be my bride
Take me by the hand and stand by my side
All I want is you, will you stay with me?
Hold me in your arms and sway me like the sea.

I love you!!!

GoldenAngelsWorks said...

I have made a special post regarding Steven on my blog. I don't know why I felt the urge to post this since I usually do not post crafts that I did not totally do on my own.

Jean.... I love you my friend and miss you dearly. I hope to hear or see you sometime this school year. Unfortunately, not as a coworker.

mary heiland said...

Many of you came to the rosaries we did last year at Ss. Simon & Jude in honor of Steven and felt the power of prayer and community.

This Friday, July 24th, we are hoping that everyone can join us at 8 a.m. to pray from wherever you are. Say the rosary or pray in your own special way. If you can't pray at 8 a.m. just pray sometime that day.

There was such a powerful feeling at our rosaries and I'm sure Jean, Tom, Ryan, Amie and Jenny (along with the entire Manos clan) will feel our love and support as they commemorates this anniversary.

Peace...

Anonymous said...

Jenny,

While I never met Steve, I am an alumni of Xavier and SS Simon & Jude and a Greek Catholic (lots in common) and was told about Steve and his unbelieveable fight awhile ago. For some unknown reason I decided to visit his blog this evening and it seems as though it is almost the one year anniversary of his passing. After reading many of the posts and watching the video tribute, I just wanted to say what an inspiration you and the Manos family are. Your dedication and love is inspiring. I aspire to be as strong, caring and as devoted as you are. If there is anything I can do to honor Steve and the joy he brought to your life, please let me know. I would be happy to make a donation to his scholarship fund or provide financial support to his memorial tree. Or even give of my time to a cause that Steve was passionate about.

Sincerely,

Jessica J. Fotinos, Esq.
Chief Legal Counsel
Registrar of Contractors
jessicafotinos@hotmail.com

M-n-M said...

Hi Jenny -

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. The experiences you posted on the blog were so powerful and I was grateful to read them. When Marshal's sister died he really struggled to deal with the overwhelming feelings of missing her in everyday until he was given this great quote. "Mourn not to long for she that is gone, but be grateful that she was"

I have always thought you were the most talented, and amazing person, I have no doubt that you will take this trial and continue to become someone who will make a great difference for everyone she is around.

misty

Joan said...

Yesterday I was in the mountains around Malad where it was very lovely and peaceful, which is hard to believe because we were at girls' camp. My thoughts all day were on Jenny and Steve. After everyone else went to bed, a friend seemed to understand that I needed to talk, and, although I had told her about Jenny and Steve before, I told her again - what a great man Steve was and how much he loved Jenny and how much she loved him. I just felt that need to talk about them. Lynn, thank you for posting the words to the song. That is so "Jenny and Steve". What a beautiful love they have.

Annabelle, Tom, Jean, Amie, and Ryan, and all the rest of the Manos' I was privileged to meet, I am also thinking of you. What a wonderful family. Thank you for loving my daughter.

Adrian said...

Jen
You and Steve continue to be an inspiration and a constant reminder of what life is really about. I feel so blessed to have met you both.
Adrian