Friday, September 2, 2011

Associations and hope

I'm getting really restless at home. I'm sitting in the big comfy chair in the corner of my bedroom (it's where I do the bulk of my writing and editing), and I can't help but think about the Friday night two years ago, and then the Saturday night and the awful Sunday that led to Steve's final breath on Labor Day.

I've always been big on associations.

For example, when I'm at a certain intersection in Carrollton, I think of the night I was driving Jayshree after dinner and I turned right on red. With an arrow. She didn't see the arrow and screamed. That was more than 20 years ago, and I can still hear her sincere concern that I was leading us into disaster.

And when I'm on a particular stretch of LBJ in North Dallas, I think of the summer days that Melane and I would walk from our Farmers Branch neighborhood to Northtown Mall, on the other side of 635. We would cross on a pedestrian bridge. We'd stand in the middle and try to coerce truck drivers into honking their horns (we'd move our right arm in the universal symbol that means "please honk to entertain me"). That bridge is about to be demolished, by the way, and I'm sad that Mel and I didn't stand in the middle one more time. I don't think we've crossed that bridge since 1981.

Last night was Curriculum Night at school. It's when parents gather in classrooms to learn expectations from teachers for the year.

Two years ago, Jim and Betty were at home with Steve, Cooper and Katie. I hated to leave the house for that hour, but I also hated to miss an important night at school.

I walked to Bledsoe. An hour later, there was an awful storm outside. There was no way I could walk home in the driving rain and lightning.

Julia Brinlee, Cooper's first-grade teacher, drove me home. She had been Cooper's teacher when Steve was diagnosed. She knew how to read my face, knew when I needed a hug after school.

On this night, she parked in front of our home and prayed for Steve and our family. I'm certain that I cried. And then I ran inside to check on my most treasured loved ones.

Steve seemed to have declined even more in that hour I was gone. It was his final Thursday night on earth.

So, last night I attended two sessions -- one on first grade, one on fifth grade. I listened. Took notes. And thought of that night two years ago.

I also associate this time of year with babies. So many friends were pregnant with babies in summer 2009. I didn't send a single gift or card (that I recall -- details are fuzzy) for those precious babies, but with every birth I thanked God for new life.

Today our church family welcomes another new life: Matilda Grace, tiny daughter to Amy and Branden.

I've spent some of today crying, thinking of Steve and the pain he endured and long list of people who love and miss him. And I've spent other moments staring at a tiny photo of Matilda, posted on Facebook, thinking of the hope and promise of this new life and the long list of people who already love her.

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