Thank you, dear blog readers, for being a part of our lives the past four years. Thank you for praying with us and for us, for voting on names for the despicable tumor and Steve's snazzy walker, for posting notes of encouragement and advice.
Last night I was working on deadline from home, waiting for a certain football game to end so that I could copy edit a news story about the (ultimately disappointing) game. While waiting, I exchanged text messages with Julie.
I noted that exactly four years ago at that moment, I was on the phone with someone -- could have been one of any number of kind people I called to "interview" that night -- to gather information about what to do about a mass in Steve's brain stem.
I talked to doctors and journalists and cancer survivors and brain tumor survivors. Not a single one a stranger. Everyone of them a friend. (One of countless signs of God in the midst of the crisis.)
Cooper was 6. Katie was 2.
Katie at 6 now is so different than Coop at 6 then. She is exponentially more wise to the world now than he was then.
She learned at a young age how to adjust to changes -- different people helping with preschool drop-off and pick-up, nap and bedtime routines. Our circle of caregivers necessarily grew to trusted folks -- family members and friends who are family.
Her memories of life before Steve's cancer are fuzzy, mostly limited to family stories and photos.
She grew up thinking that it's normal for a parent to spend days at a time in a hospital or weeks at a time in a hospital bed at home. And that it's typical for a parade of generous people to deliver dinners and pecan pie.
She's learned that in crisis, we rely on strength from within and on help from loved ones and on strength from God.
She knows that death is inevitable. That death is permanent. That life is extra special.
My friend Kerith reminded me tonight that while Katie is more worldly wise, she's also stronger than she would have been otherwise.
To be honest, I would have preferred she gain her strength an entirely different way. But I'm also thankful that of the many possible directions our lives could have taken after Steve's death, this is the direction we're in. That I get to be Katie's mom and Cooper's mom. That I am allowed to guide these two worldly wise and strong souls.
Cooper & Katie, Dec. 11, 2011
On Steve's bench, Holy Covenant UMC, Carrollton