Monday, August 20, 2012

Three things

In mid-January 2008, Steve and I knew that the tumor in his brain stem would kill him. We prayed for a miracle. We prayed that the chemotherapy and radiation therapy would do what no doctor expected. We fervently prayed and wished for that Damm Spot to disappear forever.

But we also knew that time was limited.

Now, here's the difference (one of the differences) between Steve and me.

Had I received the same devastating diagnosis, I would have gone into crazed list mode. Steve did not.

I would have made short-term and long-term lists and plans related to the house, my care, our children, Steve's future. I would have tried to anticipate every major milestone in Cooper's and Katie's lives and left corresponding suggestions (read: bossy instructions).

I would have tried to assert some semblance of control in a totally out-of-control situation. Steve, of course, did not.

That's one of the many qualities that made us such a great match. Tyra the planner and Steve the one who appreciated plans but lived more freely.

Steve planned his memorial service with Pastor Andy and Pastor Debbie. I didn't know anything of their plans until after Steve died, and for that I am forever thankful. Steve's celebration was absolutely perfect. Truly, I can't think of a thing that should have been changed. And it's because it was what Steve wanted and because clergy who love him carried out his vision.

And he left me with three specific instructions. Three things.

1. Keep Katie dressed in Hanna Andersson as long as possible. He liked that the clothes were colorful and comfortable, matched her personality and were age appropriate.

2. Stand firm and remain confident in my parenting. Our deliberate parenting style was crafted through our shared values and our shared vision for the lives we wanted for our babies.

3. Travel with Cooper and Katie as much as possible. One of our shared passions was travel -- discovering new places and then remembering them together. We never shied from taking our children with us on our adventures.

That's it.

Imagine if the situation were reversed. Poor Steve would have been saddled with notebooks and diagrams and Post-it notes, all well-intentioned but imprisoning suggestions from me on how to continue life.

What a disaster I would have created.

One day, when we're together in heaven, one of the first things I'm going to do is thank Steve for giving me only three demands, only three things.

1. I do splurge on Hanna Andersson for Katie. I try to buy clothing there only on sale, but even then it's a little pricey. We have maybe two years until she grows too big for their sizes. (She's already in 140s, and the biggest is 160.) I'm certain I'll be a sad momma when she outgrows the store altogether.

2. I keep Steve's voice in my head and think of his parenting style often. I try to imagine how he would handle situations that he tragically never was able to experience. I know that my single parenting isn't equal to what our team approach would have been, but I am comforted knowing that Steve trusted me and believed in me.

3. After accounts were settled in 2009, I set aside some of Steve's life insurance policy for our "travel slush fund." I've accessed that money to help pay for Legoland, West Palm Beach, Colorado, Ann Arbor, London, Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula, Los Angeles, Sarasota and, most recently, New York City and a Disney cruise to Canada. The money won't last forever, but I'm stretching it as far as I can. 

Cooper and Katie and I have created incredible memories together at home and while traveling. We have gotten lost and found our way back. (Just ask them about the night driving north from San Diego to Carlsbad.) We have defeated language barriers. (Cooper and I have a great story to tell about a Parisian grandmother.) We have visited places special to Steve and places he only dreamed of visiting. (I cried on the drive in to Ann Arbor, knowing he should have been our guide. And I cried at the top of Hurricane Ridge, wishing desperately that he could have held my hand.)

Almost three years after Steve's death, I am still discovering new reasons to love him. At the top of the list: His list to me was mercifully short.

Cooper, Tyra and Katie (in a Hanna Andersson dress) on the Disney Magic, August 2012

1 comment:

Maisie said...

Your family is so precious...Cooper and Katie have grown up as I've read this blog over the past few years. Steve is proud I'm sure.