Behind just about every single thing in our home is a story and memory.
The painting above the mantel that we bought at an estate sale about a decade ago. The bargain antique kitchen table, chairs and sideboard. The black-and-white portrait from our Caribbean cruise in 2000.
These reminders are beautiful and comforting. But sometimes just a glimpse triggers tears.
Yesterday I returned to the endodontist for an X-ray, to see if my root canal from two weeks ago looked good. The endodontist, known for her perfectionism, wasn't pleased and wanted to redo the whole thing.
When I realized that I was about to get more shots in my gums and the roof of my mouth, I burst into tears. The only other time I'd had dental work -- two weeks ago -- I was able to go home and tell Steve all about it. I shared with him how much it hurt, and he hugged me with his one good arm and told me that it would be OK.
Yesterday, though, I couldn't sit on the edge of his bed and give him the blow-by-blow account. There was no Steve hug in the end.
Of course, I can always talk to Steve, and I know that he's with me during joy and sorrow. And there are lots of you who offer hugs every day and tell me it will be OK. But I can't ignore how much the sadness crushes me, often during moments I don't anticipate.
My mom, who is still bedridden in a nursing home in Temple, has been worried that I would have trouble sleeping in our bedroom -- the place where Steve passed away.
I have had trouble sleeping, but not because of the location. I had become so conditioned to wake up throughout the night to check on Steve, to listen to his breathing, to make sure he was resting. My body is slowly catching up to reality, slowly allowing me to sleep at longer stretches. I still wake up in the night, but not as often as before.
Our room and our home represent so much more than Steve's illness. There was and is so much life here; I'm not at all haunted by his death here. I am thankful that he wasn't trapped in the hospital when he passed away, and I am incredibly grateful that I was by his side.
Cooper and Katie are adjusting well. All three of us have our moments, as you would expect, and I am comforted that they trust me enough to fall apart with me.
Last week they were squabbling more than they should. Their tempers were short. I pulled Cooper aside and spoke with him about the importance of us getting along -- especially now -- and about not directing our anger or sadness about Daddy's death at one another. (We talk a lot about appropriate ways to express our volatile emotions.)
I was desperate to find a meaningful analogy for Cooper. And then it came to me. (I think that maybe Steve was whispering in my ear.)
First we talked about the Dolphins, Cooper's soccer team. I asked him what his team tries to do.
And would you ever argue with your teammate on the field when you're trying to score a goal?
Then I told him that the three of us -- Mommy, Cooper and Katie -- are a team now. And our goal is to heal from our sadness and to always honor Daddy. I told him that the healing will take a very long time. But if two of the three team members are fighting, it's going to take even longer. The arguing will hold us back from our goal.
Since then, the three of us talk frequently about being a team. We've named ourselves -- the Tasmanian Dolphins (a nod to Katie's soccer team, the Tasmanians, and Coop's team, of course). We're going to have T-shirts made. When we pray together at night, I ask for God's help in guiding our team and helping us heal.