Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Footage from 2006

For months now, when I go to YouTube, I get a dire message about Google videos that need to be migrated. I always ignore the message -- until yesterday, when I started to worry that if I ignored the message much longer, the videos might disappear.

The migration was simple and quick. And now I've rediscovered some wonderful snippets of Damm family life.

Two very special ones:

I haven't yet shared these two with Katie. I don't think she's quite ready.

I did share them with Cooper. He watched the Katie video first. He stared at the computer screen with big eyes that soon filled with tears.

We talked about that early fall day in 2006. And we talked about how much we miss Daddy.

I asked if he wanted to see another video, one of his 5-year-old self and Daddy, including Daddy's voice. He said yes. I asked if he was sure. He said yes again.

After watching that video, he laughed and laughed.

I am so thankful to have these tangible, recorded moments to supplement our memories.

Monday, May 28, 2012


I have, of course, made all kinds of mistakes during life without Steve.

One of the most memorable: Taking Cooper and Katie to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to welcome home members of the armed services.

It was December 2009, about three months after Steve died. Cooper's Cub Scout troop encouraged its members to meet at Terminal D at the airport early on a Sunday morning to cheer for military men and women flying home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Cooper dressed in his uniform, and Katie and I dressed in church clothes. We joined the other boys and their families at the airport. We held little flags and handmade posters.

Family members of the folks coming home took their place at the front of the receiving line. Then veterans of foreign wars stood in chronological order -- World War II, Korea, Vietnam, etc.

The Scouts filled in at the end of the line.

Doors opened, and men and women in fatigues came out. We all cheered as family members were reunited.

Mommas and fathers were there to hug their grown children. Military men scooped up toddlers and hugged wives.

I cried. Because I was thankful that these folks made it home and heartbroken for those who didn't. And because Cooper and Katie, still grappling with life without Daddy, were there to watch daddies reunited with their babies. And because I, who still cried daily missing Steve, was watching husbands reunited with wives.

The timing was just wrong for our little family, and I felt awful for not protecting us better. And then I felt guilty for being selfish. It was just a bad day all around.

I hope you all will give thanks today, Memorial Day, for all the homecomings -- for the men and women who serve our country and protect our freedoms and then get to return home. And that you will give thanks for the homecomings that never happened -- for the men and women who served our country knowing the potential sacrifice, who died serving our great country. And for their families, who endure life without them.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Father's Day

Since our first Father's Day without Steve in 2010, I've been thankful that the holiday falls in the middle of June. That's because school isn't in session in mid-June, which means there's no big school-related Father's Day to-do. We can be as low-key as we please.

This year is different, though. All seven first-grade classes have been working on Father's Day projects to be sent home and saved for June 17.

Katie's teacher, Shannon, has been very sensitive about the projects. She told Katie that she could design her work for her grandfather or a special uncle. Or she could make things for her Daddy, who is always with her and will know what she's working on.

Katie opted for Steve projects. Every now and then over the past week she's told me that it makes her sad. I tell her that it makes me sad, too, and that I'm proud of her for using words to describe how she feels.

Today, though, she reached her limit, even after being exempted from some of the work.

She complained of a stomachache at school and eventually went to the nurse. She had no fever. I talked to her on the phone and surmised that she sounded blue but not in pain. Our wonderful nurse, Crystal, convinced Katie to return to class.

Shannon and I communicated by email. Shannon expressed concern that the Katie's stomachache was rooted in worries and sadness and suggested that Katie work on another project, outside the classroom, while the rest of the class finished their Father's Day work.

Shannon visited with art teacher Jennifer. When Katie's class was finished with library time, Shannon told her that Mrs. Hand needed some help with kindergarteners in art. Katie instantly brightened and headed to art -- her favorite of all the specials classes -- and helped a kindergartener catch up on some work.

After school, Katie told me all about her worry and sadness. She cried off and on for 30 minutes. I hugged her and told her it was OK to cry and that it's not fair and that sometimes I say "stupid tumor" in my head or out loud to help myself feel better.

She laughed. Even with permission -- "stupid" is a bad word around here -- she wouldn't say it.

She hasn't laughed much since. "This is one of the saddest days of my life," she says. 

We're hoping that tomorrow is a little happier.


A friend's third-grade son is on a baseball team. Every year the team plays in tournaments on Mother's Day weekend and again on Father's Day weekend.

New this year on the team is a boy whose father was killed in car accident last August. This June 17 will be his first without his dad.

My friend is struggling with how to handle the out-of-state Father's Day tournament. Do they go on with the dad hoopla as usual? Nothing at all? Somewhere in between?

I offered a little advice and told her I'd also ask Cooper. After all, his first Father's Day without Steve was just after he finished third grade. He knows better than I what that feels like.

I explained the situation to Cooper.

"First of all," he asked, "does he go to Bledsoe? Because he needs Mrs. Williams as his counselor."

I told him that I don't know where he goes but that I hope he has a counselor as kind and helpful as Mrs. Williams.

He asked if the boy could invite a grandfather or uncle to the tournament instead. And he suggested that the team not make a big deal out of Father's Day this year.

"Next year will be OK," he said, "but not this year."

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Head for the Cure 2012

Last Saturday was a great day for racing! The weather was cool. The rain held off until the awards ceremony. And the site was packed with joyful folks running and walking in an effort to defeat brain cancer.

Cooper, Katie and I are so thankful for everyone who joined the team -- whether you could make it or not -- and everyone who donated money in Steve's memory and everyone who cheered for us in person or from afar.

There is such a sense of hopelessness with a brain tumor diagnosis. The statistics are overwhelmingly depressing. The treatments, though evolving, aren't effective enough. (I will never forget one of the doctors we consulted in December 2007 who took one look at Steve's MRI films and told us to go ahead and find a hospice agency.)

Events like the Head for the Cure Foundation 5K give people a small sense of control and a huge hope for a cure.

You can see the final list of team members and donors here. 

Morgan and Katie found a Sonic character before the race. Morgan and Katie are Girl Scouts together (and bridged this week from Daisies to Brownies).

Cooper is tall (5 foot 3) but Uncle Greg is still taller. And faster. For now. 

Part of our team gathered for a photo before the race. This awesome group includes people I've known since the ninth grade, neighbors, co-workers, friends of friends who've become friends. We are blessed. 
Katie loves Jeannie. (Everyone loves Jeannie.)

Betty was our biggest fan!
Cooper, Jay, Rich and Jakob
Jakob placed third in his age group!  
Shari and Tyra
Shari and I met last year through Head for the Cure. She is super positive and always helpful and a big reason the race runs smoothly. 
The delightful Cagle family and Katie
Will and Gracie are in first grade with Katie; Will and Katie have been in class together the past two years. I'm hoping for a repeat in second grade!

Best-ever neighbors: The Walls family 
Walter, Greg and Sharon are in this speedy crowd.
Cooper and Tyler ran together the entire race. 
Katie cheered for the runners while waiting for her kids dash to begin.
Neighbor, friend and new college graduate (woo hoo!) Allen placed first in his age group.

Allen's dad, Phil, placed first in his group, too! 
Walter, my ninth-grade honors geometry teacher and longtime friend, placed first in his group. 
Katie, Cooper, Sharon and Tyra headed for brunch after the event. Sharon placed second in her group, bringing our team award total to five!

Friday, May 11, 2012

12 hours until race time

In about 12 hours, runners and walkers will gather in Plano in an effort to raise money to fight brain cancer. Rain or shine, we'll be participating in the Head for the Cure Foundation 5K.

The Run for Steve Damm team is 76 members strong! Click here for the full list.

Plus, we've raised $1,435!

Thank you:
Christina Johnson
Lauren Daves
Kalvin Nguyen
Highside Capital Management
Liz Wohl
Rebecca Christian
Amy Forbus
David Warhoftig
Jim and Betty Damm
Rob and Julianne Amezcua
Jim Suydam
Tracey Robinson
Brandie Sellers
Robert Kroutil
Sarah and John Hanan
Kathi Williams
Karen Jackson
Jan Pepper

Cooper, Katie and I continue to give thanks for your continued support and prayers! And we look forward to a cure to brain cancer!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Swiped from Facebook

W.T. White High School Marching Band, 1986-87
Can you find Steve? And three members of our wedding party?

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Team roster so far

Look at this strong group of runners and walkers! Here's the list, so far, of folks who have registered for next Saturday's Head for the Cure Foundation 5K. (For details on the event, please click here.)

Adam Spears
Allison Earwood
Ally Calandro
Angela Barretto
Angela Frazier
Caden Wright
Carson Wright
Cathy Rodriguez
Celeste Walls
Chase Wright
Chloe Wright
Chris Backus
Chris Calandro
Christiann Calandro
Cooper Damm
David Cagle
David Shilson
Dylan Coleman
Elaine White
Eric Slemmer
Erin Baird
Ethan Krilic
Eva Woody
Gracie Cagle
Greg Woodbury
Isabella Rodriguez
Jakob Woody
Jay Woody
Jennifer Morgan
Jenny Reeves
Julie Spears
Julie Spessard
Kanya Deering
Kara Burley
Kathryn Damm
Katie Calandro
Katrina Watland
Kelly Cox
Kelly Starnes
Kendall Walls
Kristin Cagle
Kyla Walls
Laura Riddle
Layne Smith
Leslie Wright
Lisa Cutright
Liz Smith
Luke Morgan
Marcy Gore
Mary Calandro
Matthew Rodriguez
Mike Morgan
Morgan Frazier
Pamela Coleman
Richard Chollick
Ro Lewinski
Robin Lowe
Roddy Wright
Rodica Slemmer
Ron Walls
Sage Backus
Sean Burley
Sharon Grigsby
Stuart Cutright
Suzanne Endres
Tamarah Walker
Tammy Patterson
Tate Johnson
Tyra Damm
Walter Dewar
William Cagle

There's still time for you to join the fun! You can register online through Wednesday. (Click here for the registration page.) Be sure to choose the team registration AND choose the Run for Steve Damm team. 

If you've registered for our team and do not appear on this list, please email me at