This time of year has historically been cheerful for the Damm family of Frisco.
Katie's birthday is June 20.
Our wedding anniversary is July 2.
Cooper's birthday is July 3.
This year, we'll celebrate all those life-changing days without in-the-flesh Steve.
Throw in Father's Day and various cancer-related anniversaries I keep in my head, and I've got a recipe for a rough few weeks.
The planner in me needs to anticipate the events, to think through how we'll honor Steve and enjoy our special days. My nine months of experience with grief has taught me that no amount of planning can predict my emotions during any given moment.
So I'm bracing myself for the unknown and doing my best to focus on today, to not waste energy on worry about tomorrow. And I'm reminding myself of the constant joy that surrounds me during this unpredictable, necessarily long grief journey.
Some recent examples of Cooper and Katie joy:
"Mommy, I'm glad God made your hair curly the way it is." (It was if Steve were whispering in her ear. He told me the same thing all the time, especially on the days when my hair resisted my amateur wrangling.)
"God doesn't have a phone number or phone. To talk to Him, you should always do the right thing and pray."
"I told Daddy I love him so very much. I know he heard me."
"You don't buy love. You have love. And then you give it away."
"I think God and the angels always smell clean."
"You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit. But sometimes you just can't hold it in and you do throw a fit."
He was watching Star Wars: Attack of the Clones this weekend. He told me that he felt sorry for Anakin Skywalker, whose mother died. "I know what it feels like to lose a parent."
Katie spent the night with her dear friend Julianna on Friday night. Cooper was mopey all Saturday morning. "It's just not the same without Katie."
As I tucked him in after a particularly excellent day, I told Cooper how proud I was of him and how proud Daddy is, too. "Yeah, he's bragging about me in heaven," he said.
"In heaven there is no sickness, no rainy days. Only sunshine."
A year ago today, the fabulous Jen Weintraub of Sugar Photography spent an hour with our family to capture these amazing images.
I wrote her tonight that I'll never be able to repay her for the lifetime of joy I'll have with these photos.