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Walking with Jane Fund for NET Cancer
Welcome to our Walking with Jane Fund Page.

(All donations made to this fund also count toward the Program in Neuroendocrine and Carcinoid Tumors' "3-in-3: The Campaign to Cure Net Cancer's" goal of raising $3 million in three years for NET cancer research at DFCI.)

I took down the Christmas Tree today. I packed up all the ornaments Jane made over the course of our marriage and all the ornaments we had bought or otherwise acquired over 21 years of marriage. For some reason, it felt like I was doing so for the last time. I cried through it all.

This was my sixth Christmas season without Jane. Somehow, it's been the hardest of all six. None of them have been easy. I barely remember the first one. I spent it in Seattle and the shock of it is etched into the family picture someone took at my brother's house that year. I am a ghost in that shot. There is no expression on my face--no pain, anger or disbelief.

People tell me you can tell the seriousness of a wound by how much it doesn't hurt. Minor injuries hurt like hell. Major ones induce a numbness that masks the seriousness of the situation. I felt nothing for a very long time. I went through the motions of life and anyone who has seen me in public these past few years could almost believe I am OK.

I'm a good actor. And the numbness helps me create that illusion. Say something funny and I will laugh. Say something sad, though, and the curtain comes down. I may continue to interact with the people around me but my mind is far away. It is the only way I have to deal with the loss that does not leave me sobbing endlessly on the floor. I don't do that in public.

Christmas was a special time for us. Jane would spend weeks selecting a new ornament to make for us. She would keep the design away from me--not showing it to me until it was finished and ready to hang on the tree. We would wake up on Christmas morning about 5 a.m.--we were like little kids. We would go out to the tree and bring our gifts back to bed, where we would unwrap them, starting with the stockings.

We would have cocoa and warmed chocolate croissants after presents--these eaten in bed as well. Then we would get up and Jane would bake bread and desserts we would take to her parents for Christmas dinner. I would wash the dishes as she worked and do whatever other prep work she needed done--chopping onions or veggies or beating eggs.

I spent the first four Christmases in Seattle after Jane died. I would stay with my father most of the time. We would sit up late into the night talking about our wives and remembering better days. Then he died and, because Jane's dad was not doing well, I spent last Christmas here. I sat with our tree and looked at the lights. I had tea with my croissant.

There were no gifts wrapped under the tree, no stockings, no Christmas morning card. Nor were there this year. I baked bread, a Quiche, and an apple pie and took them to Jane's cousin's house for dinner. I came home and watched It's a Wonderful Life and wondered what George would have done without Mary.

Normally, I would have left the decorations up until January 6. Now that I'm retired I can wait until then. Jane and I always took the tree down the Saturday before we went back to work--and always hated doing it.

Last night, as I sat looking at the tree, I decided I would take it down today. I couldn't stand looking at it. It reminded me of too many better days--days with Jane in my arms, days with her voice calling down the hallway, days when laughter was real.

Part of me thinks I must be getting better. I wouldn't hurt like this if the wound had not healed to the point that the nerves were coming back online. It's what I tell myself. Maybe it will turn out to be true, this time. But the house is quiet tonight and I am alone. The tears keep welling up and running down my face. It's been five years and 23 days and I'm still crying, still hurting, still wrestling with a loss I can't describe or explain or escape.

Tomorrow, I'll wake up and get out of bed. I'll eat breakfast, exercise, and shower. I'll take on the projects of the day, write the things I need to write, clean the things I need to clean, plan the things I have to plan. I'll figure out new ways to go after the thing that murdered my wife in the hope I can somehow help to remove that arrow from Death's quiver so that no one faces what she did--and no one faces what I have since.

Christmas reminds me why I do what I do.

If you want to help with that, you can make a donation by hitting the button on the right.

(Since its inception in December of 2011, this fund has raised nearly $250,000 for NET cancer research at Dana-Farber, $105,000 of that coming from Jane's husband, who has pledged an additional $100,000 over the next five years.)
Dana-Farber provides expert, compassionate care to children and adults and is home to groundbreaking cancer discoveries. Since its founding in 1948, the Jimmy Fund has raised millions of dollars through thousands of community efforts to advance Dana-Farber's mission.
Thank you for supporting Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Jimmy Fund's mission to conquer cancer. All gifts to this Giving Page will support the lifesaving work being done every day at Dana-Farber.
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