Friday, May 31, 2013

Most difficult time of the year

For the most part, I've learned to weather big seasonal events without Steve pretty well. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Eve, my birthday.

I'm still working on this season that stretches from the last couple of weeks of school straight through to early July. Last day of school, Katie's birthday, Cooper's birthday, our wedding anniversary.

I hesitate to even share, because some of you may be thinking, "Can't you move on now?" I'm afraid that someday people are going to run out of patience.

But I can't ignore this difficult season, and I'm working on not being too hard on myself and instead acknowledging that it's tough.

The last day of school has always been one of the saddest days of the year for me. School was my refuge when I was young, and I hated saying goodbye to teachers, friends, routines and security. Those emotions are compounded when you're a mom, and you're saying goodbye to teachers, friends and routines that are meaningful to your children AND you're acknowledging that your children are growing up. (Which of course you want them to do, but good gracious it all goes so quickly.)

So, when you take the end of a school year and pile on top of that it happening without Steve, it can be emotionally messy.

I barely have time to recover from that and then we're celebrating Katie's birthday (she'll be 8 -- 8! -- the same age Cooper was when Steve died) and then Cooper's birthday (he'll be 12!) and the day after that is our wedding anniversary (19 years ago!).

A big part of this whole grief journey is adjusting to the differences between what Steve and I wanted, expected, planned for and prayed for and life as it actually is.

It's accepting that I'm not a stay-at-home mom with a flexible freelance schedule, that I'm not home with Cooper and Katie during their summer break. It's continually accepting that I'm the only adult at home, the only truly responsible party for all things related to home, yard, car, school, health care, discipline, finances and much more.

It's means trying to complete an online registration form that requires two parents/guardians listed, and the only solution is that I list myself twice just to get the form submitted. (Cooper has two moms! Tyra and Tyra.)

On the drive to school this morning, I told Katie that I was going to do my best to attend part of her end-of-the-year party next Thursday but that I wasn't sure I could attend the entire time because of work. I've already rearranged schedules for field day, jump rope club performance, bad-weather makeup day and more.

"That's OK, Mommy," she said, "because I'll know you tried your best."

That's what I'm focusing on these next few weeks -- trying my best with some self-imposed grace when I get overwhelmed.

Tyra & Cooper, spring band concert
Katie & Tyra, spring violin recital

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Today I felt particularly overwhelmed by life. Not any one thing, just the accumulation of everything. 

Part of that "everything" included a medical test that required hospital registration -- nothing major but still necessitated all the forms with all the questions that I particularly dread. (Marital status. Next of kin. In case of emergency.) 

I underestimated how much gloom I would feel being in a hospital -- even though it was one that Steve never used. (No offense to hospitals, but if you've seen one, you've kind of seen 'em all.)


At the end of the afternoon, just before I left the house for a board meeting at church, Betty called.

Way back in 2007, when Steve was first showing signs of the Damm Spot, we received a red amaryllis. Betty eventually planted the bulb in one of the beds in the yard at their North Dallas home. And then she forgot where it was (the Dallas Damm yard, unlike the Frisco Damm yard, is lush with lovely plants).

Late today, Betty was looking out a back window when she saw something unfamiliar. She braved the cold, windy, damp weather (seriously unusual for us in May) to take a peek.

It is the red amaryllis, pushing out from the soil after all these years, ready to bloom.


After the board meeting, and before I drove home, I checked my email. There was a note from Janet.

Janet has known the Damms much longer than I have. Her big brother Chris was one of Steve's close friends in high school and a member of our wedding party. Janet and her family live in a nearby suburb.

She had learned that our church will receive a new senior pastor, Carol Sparks, effective July 1. She wanted to let me know that Carol had served at her church for many years and that she was well loved. Included in Janet's note were the most comforting words:

She prayed for Steve often, as I always kept him on our prayer list.

We live in a small world with big hearts.


Steve can no longer wrap his arms around me. He can't offer the comfort that always, always soothed my worried soul.

But God is always, always here. Has always, always been here.

I am thankful for reminders of little miracles. For flowers that eventually bloom. For souls who pray for other souls -- sometimes, often, for people they've never even met. For full circles. For the arcs out there that we don't even know are being formed.