For the most part, I choose to remember details from life with Steve from when I met him (by chance in the office of the NT Daily in December 1991) until late 2007, just before we knew something was seriously wrong.
Because Steve was not defined by what ultimately killed him. And because some of the memories of life with the Damm Spot are just painful to relive.
But this time of year I can't help it. And, I don't want to forget all the amazing moments from the 19 months of "cancer time." After all, we crammed as much life into those months as possible.
I could dwell now on the multiple crises and sleepless nights and amplified worry that I didn't want to end because, well, that would truly be the end. And sometimes my mind can't help but think of those moments.
Today, though, I've been thinking of some of the lighter moments from Steve's last few weeks.
Steve would occasionally update his Facebook status from his hospice bed with "p = y" or "p = n" but gave no clues behind the meaning. Will cleared up the mystery for everyone at the memorial service. "Pants equal yes" or "Pants equal no."
Julie came to visit and help one evening. By the end of the day, I required help from another adult to shift him in bed to avoid bedsores and to help him find a comfortable spot. Steve wasn't wearing a shirt (though pants did equal yes), so he sang to Julie, in the raspy voice that he had left, "I'm too sexy for my shirt."
He loved, loved, loved it when Cooper or Katie would snuggle up next to him to share a meal or watch television or listen to me read.
We would have dinner picnics in the bedroom.
On his very last weekend on earth, our dear friend Gretchen was visiting. (Her visit had been planned for weeks; we had no idea, of course, that she would be here when his body started to irreparably shut down.)
That Friday night, Gretchen, Steve and I remembered stories from our days in Lubbock and our travels together over the years. We laughed and laughed. It was good for all of our souls. And it comforts me so much to remember that some of Steve's final conscious hours were spent laughing.
This Labor Day weekend, two years after Steve's body stopped working altogether, Cooper, Katie and I will be with Gretchen again. I just can't bear to be home, so we're headed west, to Southern California.
I expect there will be a few tears. And lots of laughter.