Two years ago today I was holding hands with Steve when he took his final breath. It's been two years since any of us have heard his voice (other than recorded) or felt the warmth of his hugs (even when it was a one-armed hug because his left arm wouldn't cooperate) or received a Steve email signed "Cheers!"
Two impossibly long and short years.
In that time, Cooper has grown to five-foot-one and Katie to four-foot-two.
Cooper has read more novels than I have in the same amount of time (and has been diagnosed with dyslexia), has completed two triathlons, has camped away from home for nights at a time, has served our church as the most devoted acolyte I've ever seen, has learned to play piano, has taught himself to walk on stilts.
Katie has completed preschool and started elementary school, has learned to read, has created countless works of art, has spoken the wisest words I've ever heard from a child, has improvised dozens of songs, has become a Girl Scout, has described an angel's life in heaven with vivid detail and confidence.
I've written about 200 columns for Briefing, have edited more stories than I can recall, have volunteered hundreds of hours for church, multiple schools and Girl Scouts, have made new, dear friends, have run races and completed a triathlon, have stepped out of my comfort zone to speak in front of crowds.
Together we've traveled all over the country and beyond. We've created precious memories at home, on soccer fields, at the movies and museums, at the neighborhood swimming pool. We've spent time with Jim, Betty and Uncle Jim, and Melane, Greg, Brooke and Molli, and Ami, Rich, Sasha and Tara.
We have been loved on and cared for by a community of family and friends-who-are-family and friends and neighbors and teachers and co-workers and acquaintances that consistently amazes me.
We've told Daddy stories. We've prayed for him daily. We've kept his memory alive. We've tried to keep the essence of Steve alive in this home.
It has been two years of living without Steve and yet still living with his love that never dies.
It has been two years of emptiness and joy, intertwined and sometimes inseparable.