The three of us had wonderful company. Jeannie had volunteered to help that night, plus Liz was with us. (Noe and Katie are on the same team.)
Still, I ached for Steve to walk the sidelines, cheering on his darling Katie. It was just four years ago that Cooper played his first game, and when I close my eyes I can see a healthy Steve smiling and waving at 4-year-old Coop on the field for the first time.
I know that Steve is always with us now. That he's in our hearts and watching out for us. I truly believe that. In the moment, though, I'm selfish and want the real, live-in-the-flesh Steve.
Cooper gives Katie some sideline advice between quarters.***
Friday night the three of us gathered in Katie's room like we do every night for stories before bed. Without thinking much, I selected Caps for Sale.
The book about a hat peddler and some mischievous monkeys was one of Steve and Katie's favorites. For weeks at a time, he'd read it to Katie every day. I didn't expect that I'd have trouble reading it.
By the third page of this normally cheerful book, I was sobbing. I couldn't continue.
Cooper gently took the book from my hands and began to read instead.
I miss Steve's voice. I miss his weak voice from three weeks ago and his strong voice from the pre-cancer days.
So last night I called his cell phone to listen to his outgoing message.
Oh my goodness. The warmth of his voice surrounded me. And then, when it was over, I was a big ol' messy mess. I sobbed for about 30 minutes.
When I cry around Cooper and Katie, they try so hard to cheer me up. I often tell them that it's OK to cry, that it's a natural way to let out emotion.
Still, they tickle me, make silly faces, hug me, tell me jokes.
From last night:
Cooper: Knock knock.
Me: Who's there?
Me: Olive who?
Cooper: Olive Daddy.
Then Cooper offered to tuck me into bed and make me breakfast in the morning.
I politely declined. Instead, I tucked each child into bed, fell asleep on my own and woke up in plenty of time to get ready, make their breakfasts and drive us all to church this morning.
Before church this morning
***Cooper, Katie and I are not alone. Everyone who loves Steve is grieving.
There are so many of you who continue to help us daily and who continue to pray for us. We are abundantly blessed and sincerely thankful.
We are also receiving help from trained professionals.
Cooper's guidance counselor at school has been working for a year and a half to establish a nurturing relationship. He completely trusts her and has been spending time with her a few days each week.
Hospice continues to provide services. The music therapist meets with Cooper and Katie in our home every other week. An adult grief counselor has started visiting at the same time, so we have a team approach for our care.
We'll resume play therapy for Cooper and Katie in the next couple of weeks.
I have my own grief counselor.
In the next weeks or months we'll begin attending sessions with Journey of Hope, a grief support center in Plano.
We won't use all these resource all the time. We'll rely on a mix of services depending on our needs. And we'll always rely on prayer and grace.
Cooper's soccer team has new uniforms this season. On the back of each blue jersey is the player's last name and number. On the front left corner of every jersey are the initials SED -- for Stephen Edmund Damm.
Longtime buddies Dylan, Cooper and Reilly after yesterday's game
At the end of Katie's game Saturday, Coach Hollie gathered all the players for the post-game talk. She asked Katie to sit in her lap.
Coach Hollie explained to the 4-year-olds that Katie's Daddy had passed away. And then she presented Katie with a soft stuffed bunny, dressed in a soccer uniform, as a gift from the team.
The bunny's name is Hope.
Hollie, Katie and Hope