This year, the difficulty is compounded.
Today is Katie's last day of preschool forever. In three months she'll be starting kindergarten.
She's spent three years at our church preschool, a warm, loving school that is really part of our family.
When she started in the 2-year-old class in fall 2007, we had a "normal" life. Dad with a full-time job, mom at home with a freelance job, son in first grade, daughter in preschool.
Katie on the first-ever day of preschool, age 2
Then Steve was diagnosed with cancer and our normal was redefined.
When Katie started in the 4-year-old class in fall 2009, Steve was faltering. We had no idea, though, that her first week at school would be his last week on earth.
Katie on the first day of preschool, age 4, just a few days before Steve passed away
It is especially difficult to close this chapter of our lives -- the preschool chapter -- without Steve right here. And as tough as it is to close a chapter without him, it is even harder to start a new one -- kindergarten in the fall -- without him.
To start something new without Steve is to acknowledge that we are continuing life without him. And I know that that is the rational, reasonable thing to do. It would be much worse to stand still or go in reverse, to be afraid to try new things or to start something new with a grumpy attitude because he's not here.
I know that to honor Steve's life, my job is to shepherd Cooper and Katie through childhood and beyond with a positive, adventurous spirit.
Today, though, I am pausing a bit and crying a bit. Because little girls should be able to come home after the last day of preschool and get a hug from Mommy and Daddy. Because I want to hold Steve's hand and tell him how excited Katie was to walk into her classroom today, just after she told me how sad she was that school was almost over.
Katie this morning, her last day of preschool, age 4
We are so blessed that the next chapter, even without Steve right here in the flesh, will begin at another school that is a part of our family. The Bledsoe family has been part of our support and comfort since Steve's diagnosis.
And, of course, Steve is always with us, always a part of our family, always there for the milestones and tiny, everyday moments.
"... These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
(1 Corinthians 13:13)