Sunday, March 7, 2010

Six months

Sundays are especially difficult in my post-Steve world.

It was on a Sunday six months ago that he took a drastic turn, suddenly unable to speak well or breathe well. In those whirlwind hours, he took communion elements for the final time from his hospice bed in the middle of our bedroom, surrounded by incredible love and spirit.

It was on a Sunday that he last spoke aloud and opened his eyes.

Sundays the three of us are embraced by our church family. We know we are loved from the moment we walk in the narthex doors. Because someone exclaims about how tall Cooper is and how lovely Katie's dress is. Because someone always hugs us right away. Because there are familiar smiles at every turn.

And yet there's still a sense of emptiness that's always with me but feels a little emptier at church. Because Steve loved Holy Covenant so much and because we spent the majority of our marriage there and baptized our children there and because his beautiful tenor voice once filled the sanctuary.

Communion Sundays, like today, are even more difficult.

When the congregation circles the altar to receive the elements, we are truly a community. And I ache for Steve's obvious absence. And, of course, I always remember that most touching, emotional communion service of my life -- the one in the middle of my bedroom on Sept. 6, just hours before his death on Sept. 7.

Katie and Cooper before church this morning


When I think about the past six months without Steve, a great flood fills my chest. But I always recover. I take deep breaths, close my eyes, listen to Cooper and Katie's laughter nearby, take solace in the outpouring of love and support that continues daily, think of a funny Steve story, tell a funny Steve story, call a friend, cry, pray, take a walk, write about the loss, eat a square of chocolate, read an encouraging quote, listen for God's voice.

We humans are surrounded by great sorrow, but we are equipped with even greater coping skills. I am thankful for the ability to function and to feel joy and to enjoy life even while grieving.


The wonderful music therapist and grief counselor who have provided excellent care in our home over the past six months visited again this week. Our visits aren't as frequent now, but we all look forward to the 90 minutes we spend making music, creating art projects, talking and playing.

On this visit, Valerie delivered her own projects. She created a quilt for each child. Cooper's includes six photos of Cooper and Daddy; Katie's has six photos of Katie and Daddy.


If you follow me on Twitter or are my Facebook friend, you are familiar with Katie-isms. She is infinitely quotable. Here are some Katie quotes from the past few days.

"Mommy, when I'm an adult, you can teach me how to use the bank machine. If you're not alive, Mrs. Liz or Mr. Layne can teach me."

"Mommy, I just can't go to sleep because I'm thinking about Daddy and how he used to brush my teeth."

"I have at least two brains. One is naughty and the other nice. The nice brain is bigger."

"I want Daddy to be alive again."

Katie after soccer, March 6, 2010 (photo by Layne Smith)


Cooper and I are similar in many ways, but Steve's influence is blessedly great, too.

At lunch today, our dear friend Mary commented on how much Cooper's hands look like Steve's. They share those crazy long legs.

They share a strong gentleness (if that makes sense) and compassion for others.

They also share a flair for the dramatic. Cooper and his friends just finished five months of intense preparation for the Destination Imagination tournament. The team of third-graders did everything -- created and solved a problem within a seven-minute script filled with puns, crafted an elaborate set and costumes, wrote lyrics to a song and much more.

Cooper played the role of Alexander the Date (a foodie version of Alexander the Great). He developed his own accent for the part, which I'm convinced was Cooper channeling Steve, who also loved acting and creating special voices.

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