Sunday, August 22, 2010

Emotional week

It's been an unusually emotional week here. There have been lots of extra grief triggers piled on top of the regular everyday grief triggers.

1. We had our final visit with the hospice grief therapy team. Lisa started working with Cooper and Katie last summer, while Steve was under hospice care. Valerie joined just after Steve died. At first they visited every other week. Then we stretched it to once a month. We went the whole summer without a visit until this week, when we met them for ice cream and a "graduation" party. Katie was demonstrably upset saying goodbye. Cooper was quiet, working through the goodbye in his own way.

Katie did brighten a little at the end of the party. "Well, we might see them again, if someone else dies."

Valerie, Katie, Cooper and Lisa

2. Our dear friend Haley, who helped with Cooper and Katie all summer while I worked (and often helped me with household projects), left Saturday for Europe. She's a senior at Baylor and will spend this semester studying in France. I truly couldn't have made it through summer break without her help, patience and humor, and Katie and Cooper love her very much. Katie, again, had difficulty saying goodbye.

Cooper is already scoping out Christmas gifts for her late December return.

Cooper, Haley and Katie

3. Katie's fish, Beta, died Saturday. (I actually wrote about my Beta deathwatch in a column this week. I didn't jinx Beta, right?!)

We buried the little blue fish in the back yard. Katie tried to say a prayer aloud but couldn't for all of her crying. Cooper and I both said a few words about the fish. We thanked God for all of the earth's creatures and for those that brighten our lives, if only for a little while.

Katie now wants two goldfish.

4. School begins tomorrow. All three of us are ready, no doubt. But I'm never really ready to take these big steps -- like our baby going to kindergarten and our son going to fourth grade -- without Steve right here.

Uncle Jim has been up from Houston all weekend. He went to meet-the-teacher night with us and will join us for the walk to school in the morning.

Uncle Jim, Katie and Cooper

5. I'm working on continued details for the Steve memorial trees and bench at church. I am not burdened with the task -- I of course love anything related to Steve. But choosing the words for his bench makes my heart ache.

We will gather at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 7, at Holy Covenant United Methodist Church to dedicate the trees. Anyone is welcome. I'll post more details soon.

6. I received a letter that Steve's cremated remains are ready. He chose to donate his body to UT-Southwestern for research, and I chose to receive remains when available.

I knew that eventually I would receive notice from UT-SW, but nothing really prepares you for receiving the actual letter in the mailbox, mixed in with bills and catalogs.

7. We are preparing to say goodbye to the Dubes, who have lived across the street from us since Cooper was 2. We've watched them grow from a family of two to a family of five -- two darling boys and beloved dog Scooby. They are returning to the East Coast to be closer to their families and leaving behind a community that's closely knit largely because of their open arms and inclusiveness.

8. The end of August means we're closer to Sept. 7.

What makes all of these triggers easier to handle? I am blessed to live with and care for two of the most expressive, life-embracing people I've ever known. We are surrounded by friends and family members who brighten our days -- just this week included fun with the cousins; play date with new friend Julie and her children; visits with Gabriel; gymnastics with Noe; lunch with Mary; afternoon and dinner with Jim and Betty; time with Jim; neighborhood barbecue; birthday parties for two neighbors; and more.

And one afternoon this week we found rainbow in the eastern sky -- a huge, glorious symbol of God's promise. And a beautiful reminder of Steve, who, according to Katie, helps create rainbows from a computer in heaven.

Cooper and Katie before church this morning


Chrys and Mike said...

You've been on my heart so often lately. I'm praying for you and your precious kiddos during this time. Much love.


haley. said...

Oh Tyra, what a rough month for all of you. The laughter and joy and you all brought into my life is definitely missed! You and Katie and Cooper really are something else, and I am so thankful for this summer. Tell Cooper I've been keeping my eye out for super cool gifts ;) Love you!