Friday, December 28, 2012

This and that

Uncle Jim, Cooper, Jim and Katie on Christmas Eve:
That Cooper smirk is so much a Steve smirk.


A couple of Saturdays ago the kids and I met up with friends for breakfast.

Katie ordered Nutella crepes. She was particularly excited about the Nutella and used her fork to dig out the hazelnutty-chocolately goodness from the folds of the crepe.

I told her that the first time I had Nutella was in 1999 in Germany. It was more difficult to find in the United States then, and Steve was excited to have it again, many years after he was an exchange student there.

Our fourth-grade friend Luke, known for his honesty, was listening. And then he said something like, "Why don't you get yourself a new husband? It must be hard raising all these kids by yourself. And it must be depressing for them to have no dad."

I laughed (mostly because he said "all these kids" as if I were the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe) and made a joke about picking up a random husband off the street. (Which I totally do not plan on doing.)

Cooper made a joke, too. I'm not sure what Katie thought.

Luke's mom, Jenny, to her credit, did not spit out her food or anything like that.


Our wedding included four female attendants: Melissa, Jayshree, Karen and Swati. (All friends of mine since eighth or ninth grade.) The final bachelorette of the group, Swati, was married this weekend.

Karen and I sat together during the ceremony, and we talked about how we wished Steve could have been there. He loved Swati and no doubt would have loved Paolo as well.

Congratulations, Paolo & Swati!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Magical moment

Cooper, Katie, Jim, Betty, Uncle Jim and I sat down for Christmas lunch. Cooper had the honor of lighting the Steve candle.

And then, in the same moment, snow began falling from the sky. (We have a lovely view from the kitchen.)

Merry Christmas from our home, now bathed in snow! (A rarity around these parts.)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Lessons and Carols

This morning our church celebrated the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, a lovely service that tells the story of Jesus' birth through Scripture and song.

Jim and Betty attended with us, to help Cooper, Katie and I walk in the Advent bells, read the Call to Service and light the Advent candles.

Some thoughts from the morning:

1. It is clear where Uncle Jim and Steve and then Cooper and Katie received their musical talents. I sat between Jim and Betty, and I sang softly because (a) I'm not very good and (b) I wanted to listen to their voices.

2. It's remarkable to watch my 11-year-old son stand behind a lectern and lead our congregation. Not so long ago, he was a tiny 3-month-old, cradled in my arms as he was baptized on the same altar.

3. Katie's radiant joy during worship warms my heart.

4. When Pastor Cassie spoke the Bidding Prayer and prayed for those who have moved to distant shores, I strongly felt Steve's presence.

5. I've yet to fully process the events in Newtown, Ct., on Friday. I'm still numb. When our friend Sharon was reading from Isaiah, describing peace that will reign -- wolf with the lamb, calf with the lion -- she paused to compose herself. Her heart was heavy with the unspeakable violence and aftermath. When her voice broke, my tears started.

6. When Sharon asked us to pray for our brothers and sisters in Connecticut, I imagined all those families without their 5- and 6-year-olds this weekend. Then I thought of Steve, who never saw his own Katie go to kindergarten. And then I decided that, though I have no idea how heaven works, if Steve has his way this weekend, he is loving on those heavenly kindergarteners.

7. As if emotions weren't heavy enough, the choir sang "Creation Will Be At Peace," one of Steve's favorite anthems and a song from his beautiful service. So, so many tears, for Steve and for those kindergarteners and their families and all who love them. I was thankful to be surrounded by people who love me, including Betty, who held my hand.

8. Peace. I am praying desperately for peace for a world that needs it desperately.

"Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased!"
(Luke 2:14)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

MRI day

Five years ago tonight, Steve and I were at Baylor Frisco, huddled in a dark room, staring at an image of his brain.

It was our first glimpse at what we would learn in January 2008 was a grade IV glioblastoma in his brain stem.  

The next few hours and days were a whirlwind of activity. Phone calls, emails, appointments. Incredible outpouring of love and assistance from family and friends. Much of it documented in this space. 

Five years seems like a lifetime in some ways. For Katie, it almost is. The majority of her life has been with her Daddy ill or without him here altogether. Her only memories of our old "normal" are from stories and photos. 

Five years is almost half of Cooper's life. He remembers "normal," but in bits and pieces, not with the full narrative that I carry in my heart.

Five years later, I still have moments when I think, "I can't believe this is our life now." 

Those moments are more frequent when the dishwasher is broken and when two children have two activities at the same time in separate locations and when Santa needs help making decisions and when out-of-our-control changes deeply affect a child.

Those moments make me daydream ever so briefly about life before five years ago.

Of course, there's no point in living in the past. So I break reverie and focus on the next few steps in whatever tasks lie ahead and acknowledge our family's overflowing blessings.

"Joy runs deeper than despair."
(Corrie Ten Boom)