The stories we read or watch usually have a beginning, middle and end. And then we move on.
Our life story -- that's a whole different story. There are multiple plot lines developing at once. Some end, never to be visited again. Others pick back up days, weeks, years later. Some are a continuous thread with unpredictable peaks, plateaus and valleys.
Our family's story drastically changed in the early morning of Labor Day seven years ago. Steve, who had exceeded expectations his whole life, survived brain cancer longer than expected. He took his final breath on Sept. 7, 2009.
I know myself. I could have let Labor Day become a burden. I could have been stuck playing that Labor Day narrative in my head my whole life.
And, to be honest, every year about this time, the whole story comes back to me. I think of how much pain he was in at the end, how gentle Cooper and Katie were with him, how we had adapted to people in and out of our home. Still, today, it takes my breath away to recall our story and think of how much we all miss him.
I didn't want our family to be burdened forever by Labor Day weekend, so we've continued the narrative.
Since 2010, we have on Labor Day weekend ...
visited friends in Michigan and attended a game at the Big House,
visited friends in Southern California,
attended the 2012 Michigan-Alabama game in Arlington,
toured Washington, D.C., with Uncle Jim,
relaxed in Oklahoma,
explored Harpers Ferry, W.V., and
cheered for the Baltimore Orioles (they beat the Yankees on Saturday night).
We have surrounded ourselves with love, and we have enjoyed some of Steve's favorite pastimes and places. We have forged our own new adventures -- ones that Steve, too, would have loved.
I am praying for peace for our little family this week, especially on Wednesday, the seven-year anniversary, and I am thankful for those who continue to love and support us. Our story continues.