Sunday, January 27, 2013

'First Look of Life'

I've been looking for a Baby Katie photo for a second-grade project. While perusing old photos, I noticed how many of our Steve-and-Katie photos look like this one:
Katie and Steve, February 2006
He rarely looked at the camera with Katie in his arms. He usually stared at and admired his little girl.

Today, Katie is fully secure in her Daddy's love, even though he's been gone for more than three years. He poured so much love into both Cooper and Katie -- long before he was ill and, of course, while he was living with cancer.

I'm thankful that we have photos. More than that, I'm thankful that both Cooper and Katie have warm memories and constant love today.

In fact, when Katie decided to enter the PTA Reflections contest last fall, she chose to draw a photo of her Daddy holding her for the first time. (The theme this year is "Magic of the Moment.")

Katie's pastel drawing, titled First Look of Life (which recently received an Award of Excellence at school)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Moments to share

There are little moments all the time that I wish I could share with Steve. 

Moments like last Wednesday, when the school nurse called to tell me that Cooper had injured his shoulder during P.E. I had been in a deep sleep, ill from flu, when the phone rang. 

I started to get dressed and drive in the cold, dreary rain to pick him up. Then I called Katrina, who had earlier made me pinky promise to let her know if I needed help -- and who happens to be married to Frisco's best ER doctor.

We worked out a plan to get Cooper help right away. Then the school nurse called again and told me that upon re-examination all he really needed was pain medicine. Katrina delivered medicine, and I fell back asleep.

(Steve had injury-prone shoulders. Gracious, I wish he were here to discuss his troubles with me and Cooper.)

Moments like this morning, when Katie was in a dental chair for usually routine dental work that in her case required heavy sedation because of severe anxiety related to anything medical. 

She was a little loopy and a little scared, and I held her hand and told her that she was brave. I told her that I love her and am proud of her.

I wanted to say, "Daddy loves you, too," but I couldn't predict how she would react under the circumstances, so I kept those words in my heart.

Moments like tonight, when Cooper was ready to fall asleep and he asked me to take his B (his special blanket) to my room because he was afraid that it might fall apart. (It's well loved.)

I reminded him that Grandma had knit him another B. I found that newer blanket in his closet, and I wrapped old B inside new B. I tucked the combo B under his right side.

He had tears in his eyes. Me, too.

Then intuitive Katie called from the next room, "Cooper, are you OK? Is everything OK?"

And Cooper, who protects his sister at almost all costs, started to genuinely laugh and say, "Yes, I'm fine."

Friday, January 4, 2013


Cooper wrote a short biography over Christmas break for a school assignment. I'm sharing it here with his permission ...

I was born in Dallas, Texas. I live in Frisco, Texas.

When I was 3½, I went to San Francisco. I was chasing pigeons in a park when I tripped and fell flat on the concrete. I cracked my chin open, so I was rushed to a hospital that, unfortunately, took only adults. Thankfully they took me in because of the condition I was in.

I was in kindergarten through fifth grade at Calvin Bledsoe Elementary. I lived the life of a normal kid for most of my life. When I was 6, my dad, Stephen Edmund Damm, was diagnosed with brain cancer; he had a tumor in his brain stem.  

On September 7, 2009, my dad died on his bed with all of his family around him. I was in third grade at the time. The next day our school counselor informed my class about the morning before.

But I went on to do other things after the tragedy, like Student Council, choir and lots of other activities. I have had lots of good things happen to me, like getting awards for Boy Scouts and soccer. After fifth grade, I went to Pioneer Heritage Middle School, where I play clarinet.

Cooper, Dec. 23, 2012

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bring Him Home

Last night Liz and I saw Les Miserables together. (She'd already seen it once and was ready to see it again.)

It's a lovely, gritty and haunting film. 

It's not easy for me to sit through dying scenes in movies or television. The experience of living through Steve's final breaths and his death completely changed me.

I do find comfort in the life that continues after death -- here on earth and in heaven. And in precious heavenly moments on earth.

As we were leaving the theater, Liz and I talked about David Gaschen singing "Bring Him Home" at the benefit for our family in March 2010.

The kids and I recently saw David at breakfast. He is a dear soul, and we are so thankful for him and his family.

Here's the video of David singing "Bring Him Home" -- a sweet, heavenly moment.