Thursday, October 1, 2009

Faith in the future

I took a three-week break from writing my Briefing column. My first column since Steve passed away was published today.

You can read it here. Or here.

The present may be tough, but I have faith in the future

In one extraordinary moment 25 days ago, everything changed. I became a widow.

Steve and I were holding hands when he took his final breath early Labor Day morning. He had been in a sleep-like state for a few hours, unable to communicate but aware of the people and love surrounding him.

It's almost ridiculous to write that the end came quickly. Steve had lived with a deadly, inoperable brain tumor for almost two years. Though we prayed multiple times a day for a miracle, we also knew that the tiny mass of rogue cells in his brain stem was stealing time from our future together.

Still, the end came quickly.

On Saturday night we were laughing and telling old stories. A few hours later he could barely breathe. A few hours after that, morphine had forced him into a mercifully relaxed state.

Then he stopped breathing altogether, and his spirit was set free from a body that should have lasted longer than 40 years.

With his final breath, I lost the physical presence of my best friend and the father of our two young children.

I have spent every moment since adjusting to life without Steve.

Grocery shopping is different. He and Katie were the only banana eaters in the house. Now there is just Katie, and I have to remind myself to choose the smallest bunch.

Sleeping is different. I am alone in the master bedroom. I no longer need to wake up every couple of hours to check on Steve's temperature or breathing. But my body isn't fully convinced, and I often wake up – and hear only silence.

Watching television is different. We loved to watch The Office and Project Runway together, after Cooper and Katie were asleep. I now watch them alone, after our children are asleep, still somehow expecting to hear Steve's unique laugh or feel his hand on top of mine.

Receiving mail is different. There are just three names on the cards that fill our mailbox.

Shopping for autumn and winter is different. I constantly remind myself that I don't need to look for a new cardigan or wool socks or sweatshirt for Steve.

Processing information is different. Two friends have experienced two different crises in the past few weeks. At least once a day I ask myself why Steve and I haven't discussed either situation. Then I remember – though I can talk to him whenever I want now, I desperately miss our face-to-face, heart-to-heart, real-life talks.

Being a parent is different. I am the lone recipient of our children's good morning hugs and bedtime kisses. When I say "I love you," I now add "Daddy loves you, too," lending a voice to his spirit.

With so many transitions, so many changes, so many adjustments, I am finding immeasurable comfort in what remains the same.

My faith is unshaken.

I believe in the inherent goodness in people – come to life every day in the hugs and phone calls, meals and cards, visits and acts of kindness that continue to sustain our family.

I believe that love never dies. Steve's body is gone, and we can't eat dinner or catch a movie together or dream about our next vacation or retirement together. But the true love that we shared and that was born in our children can't be extinguished.

I believe that extraordinary moments, even when heart-shattering and life-changing, must be remembered and honored. And that eventually, maybe even years later, we'll discover the greater purpose or meaning behind the most tragic events.

Right now, though, I mostly just miss Steve.

Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. E-mail her at


Anonymous said...

absolutely beautiful Tyra!!! There already is a purpose in Steve's life and death!

Chitnis and Chahal said...

You have such incredible ability to put things into words. You are one amazing person and know that you and the kids are really loved.
We don't forget to think about Steve even a single day and still pray at night for him and you and the children. Will call you later today.
Love and hugs,

noelgross said...

Wow. And to think you were worried about the word count!?! Can't think of a single word to be changed, added or removed. You deserve a prize.

Anonymous said...

Tyra, you are such a wonderful, sweet, and soft and strong mom and friend!!!