Tuesday, January 31, 2012


Today is one of the best days of the year: The beginning of a new soccer season.

Cooper has played on the Dolphins since fall 2005. He was 4. Katie was just a few months old. I was a mostly stay-at-home mom with a few freelance projects. Steve was healthy, working more than full time.

The core of that team has been together ever since.

I love those little preschoolers who have grown into tall young men. Coach Phil likes to say, "They're not a team of soccer superstars, but they are a team of future CEOs."

And I love the Dolphins parents. Some of the moms I met way back in 2005 are among my dear, treasured friends. We have all cried together, but we've laughed together more.

We were all reunited at 5:30 this afternoon, for the first practice of what will be the final season for the Dolphins.

My heart leaped to spy Austin, who still wears to practice the fall 2009 jersey, the one with Steve's initials on the chest. (When some of the Cooper's teammates walked down to the altar for the children's portion of Steve's memorial service, they were wearing these jerseys.)

Austin after practice, wearing Steve's initials

There are some new families, too. Some from Bledsoe, with boys Cooper has known for years.

And then there's Connor.

Connor's dad, Greg, worked with Steve at Arthur Andersen in the late '90s. They served on the same long-term engagement with Los Angeles County hospitals.

Greg and his family now live in Frisco. And Greg's son was placed on the Dolphins.

I was able to visit tonight with mom Lauren, who has had her own share of heart-breaking loss and health struggles. I had never met her until tonight, though long ago I read her daughter's CaringBridge journal entries. Lauren and Greg and their family were on our prayer list for many, many months.

And now, 15 years after Steve and Greg worked together, their sons are playing together.

There are incredible gifts along this circuitous journey. Unexpected moments and little blessings. I am thankful for them all.

Monday, January 23, 2012


I met a woman last week who had been a colleague of Steve's. She hugged me tight and told me that she loved Steve. That everyone loved Steve.

Never underestimate the power of kind words.


We've lived without Steve for almost two and a half years. And yet there are little moments when I somehow forget.

Like today, when I was grocery shopping, and I spied Spicy Hot V8, which Steve loved to drink. For a tiny second, I thought, "I should buy some of that. I haven't in a while." And then, of course, I remembered that no one in the house drinks Spicy Hot V8 anymore.

So I took a photo ...

and headed straight for the floral department, where I bought myself some roses.

Today that seemed the logical thing to do.


One of Katie's sweet first-grade friends played at our house Saturday. I was downstairs, they were upstairs, but their conversation was clear.

Katie showed her friend something.

"That was my Dad's," she said.

Her friend, in reply, "You don't have a dad."

Katie, without drama, just the facts, "Yes I do! Everyone has a dad. Mine died. But I have a dad."

Katie and Steve, October 2008, eight months after diagnosis

Monday, January 16, 2012


Nothing about being a single mom is the way I envisioned life for our family. There are moments, sometimes hours that stretch into a day, when I feel fully the weight of being the only living parent to two wonderfully wise (and active and inquisitive) children.

Parenting -- whether with an involved spouse or not -- is emotionally draining and emotionally rewarding work. Parenting children through various stages of grief on top of various stages of typical development is even more so. Parenting when you're dealing with your own grief adds a little more complexity.

And then there's the business of running a household and working and exercising and volunteering. Juggling all of that -- well, when I think about it, that's when I feel fully the weight.

But I'm never carrying the weight all by myself, because Cooper, Katie and I are members of an incredible village of folks who are in the business of love and support and practical help.

I hesitate to make a list for fear I'll forget someone, but I do want to share a snapshot of just the past week or so.

Katie, Cooper, Mike and the banjo

  • Neighbor Mike opened his garage workshop to guide Cooper through the creation of a handmade banjo. (Cooper's science assignment was to create a musical instrument. He had ambitious plans.)
  • Sarah spent one of her rare weekdays off at the house, cooking, playing and visiting. 
  • The Chollicks brought Cooper home from a party while I was working.
  • Jim and Betty cooked and delivered dinner and visited on a particularly busy day.
  • Kristin shared homemade spaghetti sauce and pasta. 
  • Sharon took care of Cooper and Katie so I could attend a church committee meeting. (And brought with her two books that are now in heavy rotation.)
  • Melinda shared chicken tacos. 
  • Scout dads shepherded Cooper through a winter Webelos campout.

Some of the help I ask for. Some of it is offered out of the blue. All of it is sincerely appreciated and helps keep this little family running smoothly.

I often think of the families who don't have so much help, the single moms who don't live in a community surrounded by folks with time and resources to offer. I know that, despite our heavy loss, we are blessed.

No one would choose these circumstances. But I would choose this village every single time.

Cooper and Katie at the Steve Damm Spot, Jan. 8, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

Good morning

I'm having email trouble, so I rebuilt the inbox, which means I rediscovered some old emails.

One was a simple note from Steve: "Good morning."

Along with this photo of the sun rising over Lewisville Lake.

Steve took the photo on Nov. 3, 2007, at Hidden Cove Park. He and Cooper were at a Cub Scout overnight camp. It was the first camping trip that they took together. We had no idea that it would be the only camping trip they'd take on their own. We had no idea that there was a tumor lurking in Steve's brain stem, on the verge of showing symptoms impossible to ignore.

This photo breaks my heart. Steve and Cooper were an incredible team. As Cooper finishes his last few weeks of Cub Scouts and begins the process of becoming a Boy Scout, I can't help but wonder about what could have been had incurable cancer not invaded Steve's body. I've done my best in helping Cooper in his Cub Scout journey, and we've been blessed to have help from Jim and Jim and Greg, plus Bill and Wade and Layne and Brian and Rodney and other awesome dads. But, gracious, I wish Cooper had had Steve helping him all along.

And yet I love this photo because it's another tangible reminder of how much Steve loved our children and the earth and beauty. Of how thoughtful he was.

And it's a tangible reminder that the sun comes up every day, that every day we have a new opportunity to make life better for ourselves and others. 

"Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord;
his appearing is as sure as the dawn;
he will come to us like the showers, 
like the spring rains that water the earth."
(Hosea 6:3)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy new year!

Happy new year from our family to you!