Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cooper & Steve

No doubt, Cooper is his own young man. His own big personality, gifts, sense of humor, talents and quirks. But there are moments when it seems as if Steve is whispering in his ear. Sometimes he flashes a facial expression that makes me catch my breath or laugh uncontrollably.

This morning, as we were getting ready to leave for church, I asked Cooper and Katie to check all the doors and to love on Margie a little. Maybe give her a scratch on the head.

A minute later, as we were walking out the door, Cooper reported, "Margie's head has been thoroughly scratched."

Steve's words, inflection and tone -- right out of Cooper's mouth.

About 25 minutes later, I was attempting to take our weekly photo on Steve's bench at church.

Some Sundays I get a good photo in four or five tries. Others, well, it's more like 40 or 50. The sun is too sunny or someone's hair is too ticklish or someone is slouching while the other is twisting.

Today, Cooper's arm was placed around Katie in a way that made her uncomfortable. So I asked Cooper to move his arm behind her but not around her.

All sorts of Steve-style goofiness broke out.

Can you see his awkwardly bent left arm and hand?

How about now?

Pure Steve Damm.

I eventually captured this, the "good" photo, though I'm a big fan of the others, too.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Walking with God Through Hard Times

When Steve was planning his memorial service (unbeknownst to me), he asked that I participate. He wanted me to speak, but he knew me well enough to know that I'm terrified of public speaking and that I'd be too much of a mess to speak at his service.

He, of course, was right.

Instead, I wrote about Steve for the service, and Betty read the words on my behalf. I still don't know how she managed, but I'm so thankful she did.

Since Steve's death, I've spoken publicly just a few times -- sometimes about being a mom, sometimes about Steve, usually about both. My fear of public speaking eases a little every time. My emotions have dropped from terrified to nervous.

And now, of course, I speak in front of a roomful of children five days a week. Teaching never makes me nervous.

Do you think Steve would believe that I've agreed to speak in front of an entire church congregation for three consecutive services?

Well, he probably would -- Steve was my biggest, most ardent fan. 

Our former senior pastor, Andy Lewis, has asked me to join him at First United Methodist Church Lewisville this Sunday morning to talk about "Walking with God Through Hard Times."

We'll talk about life before brain cancer, life during and life after. We'll talk about the people who supported our family, the faith that sustained us, the joy that emerges when you least expect it. We'll talk about God's love and grace and strength.

When: 8:30 a.m., 9:45 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 16
Where: First UMC Lewisville, 907 W. Main St., Lewisville

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Bowl Sunday 1994

When Steve and I were engaged Dec. 25, 1993, he was the assistant administrator at a multi-specialty physician clinic in Brenham and I was the food editor at the Bryan-College Station Eagle.

About a week after our engagement, Mel Tittle, managing editor of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal called and, after chatting for a few minutes, asked me to fly to Lubbock to interview for a copy-editing job.

I agreed. As Steve drove me to the Austin airport very early the morning of my interview, I told him I was just going to practice my job-seeking skills. I mean, it was Lubbock. (No offense, Lubbock friends, but I had grown up hearing less-than-flattering descriptions of West Texas from family members who hailed from Midland.)

When Steve picked me back up that night at the Austin airport, I told him that we needed to move. (These were the pre-cellphone days. There was no way to telegraph my excitement about the Lubbock newsroom and, let's be honest, the prospect of making $10 an hour, compared to $7.50 an hour.)

Oh, that Steve Damm was a patient fellow. And totally, completely supportive.

By the end of January, we had moved a few things to Lubbock. On Jan. 30, 1994, after we'd driven to Lubbock, Steve flew back to Austin so that he could return to Brenham for a couple of weeks.

It was Super Bowl night. The Dallas Cowboys were playing the Buffalo Bills. We watched some of the game in the airport bar. Then Steve boarded his flight, missing an hour of the game. When he landed in Austin, he caught the end. Dallas won, 30-13.

What I remember most about that night: A huge sense of melancholy when Steve boarded the plane.

Oh, I cried and cried and cried. Though there was promise of good times to come, I felt so very alone. Alone in a new town that isn't at its prettiest in late January. (I did learn to love Lubbock, though never really for its aesthetic qualities.)

We would have many goodbyes to come. In 1997, after Steve graduated with his MBA from Texas Tech, he accepted a job with Arthur Andersen, working as a consultant. Almost every week for three years, he would board a plane -- first for Los Angeles, then for St. Louis.

Goodbyes were never easy, but they became routine. There was always the promise of a reunion in just a few days.

Some day we'll have a different kind of reunion. Until then, there are many, many good days in store. I am thankful for every single one.

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.
-- Jeremiah 29:11