Saturday, August 29, 2015

The way it's all worked out so far

Thursday night at Reedy High School
When Steve, Cooper and I moved into our house 13 years ago, we had big dreams.
  • One or two more babies.
  • Excellent small schools for our children.
  • We would travel at least twice a year.
  • Steve would continue to work hard and advance in his career as a health-care administrator.
  • I would continue to work hard as a writer and editor, eventually becoming a stay-at-home mom who freelanced part time.
Some of it worked out just the way we planned.

The rest, well, the rest is a reminder that we're not in control as much as we hope.

It's been an emotional week around here for all the usual reasons plus a few more.
  • Cooper started high school.
  • Katie started fifth grade.
  • I started my third year of teaching. 
  • Cooper ran at his first-ever high school cross country meet.
  • Cooper performed at a high school football game with his brand-new marching band.
  • The sixth anniversary of Steve's death is just days away.

When we moved in to this house in August 2002, we trusted that the developer's plans would come true. Those plans included a nearby elementary school, middle school and high school.

Not all the developer's plans came to fruition. But those schools are all here.

The middle school opened Monday. It's directly at the end of our street. Katie will begin school there next year. She can walk to and from every day.

The high school opened Monday as well. It's less than a mile from our home. We can drive from our alleyway to the back parking lot in about two minutes. More importantly for this active family of three, Cooper can ride his bike or walk.

Cooper, before the game
On Thursday night, just about the entirety of southwest Frisco was crammed onto metal bleacher seats, watching football players and cheerleaders, the dance team and the marching band. From our perch on the hill, we could see just about the whole town laid before us.

We wore green and blue. We cheered and applauded with gusto.

I was cheering for children I've known almost their whole lives.

And I was cheering especially loud for the tallest kid in the marching band. I was thinking of his daddy, who would have been radiant with pride, who would have been telling me stories of his own marching band days, who would have been holding my hand as we basked in the joy of one of our dreams coming true.

I give thanks every single day that we chose this tiny lot on which to build our cozy home, that I found a new career that allows me a schedule to care for my children while also taking care of other people's children, that we're surrounded by dear friends, that we're in the middle of a community that nurtures families.

I give thanks for the dreams that come true.

Marching Cooper (photo by Layne Smith)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

High school

There's no point in keeping a list of all that Steve has missed in the almost six years that he's been gone. As I've written before, and as I tell myself all the time, life continues.

I can't allow myself to dwell on what Cooper and Katie are missing in Steve's absence -- his humor, advice, stories, laughter. The presence and love and steady influence of their devoted father in the home.

Yet there are moments that Steve's absence is especially obvious to me. Today, for instance -- freshman orientation for Cooper at the brand-new high school less than a mile from our home.

Can you imagine how proud Steve would have been to walk into the building with his charming, handsome, 6-foot-2 son? How tickled he would have been to walk into the band hall or to hunt down Cooper's locker in the C Hall?

Cooper at Reedy High School
I would have loved to sit with Steve in the auditorium today, waiting for the parent meeting, marveling that it feels like about six months ago we were walking Cooper to Bledsoe Elementary for meet-the-teacher night for kindergarten.
Steve, baby Katie, Cooper and Tyra, walking to Bledsoe, August 2006  
Cooper at meet-the-teacher night, kindergarten, August 2006
(I did have the pleasure of sitting with two dear friends, Shannon and Kelly, veteran high school moms who always encourage me with their down-to-earth advice and genuine kindness.)

Tyra, Shannon and Kelly at today's parent meeting
Every single high school parent I know has warned me that the next four years will speed by. (More so than the past 14 years? Good gracious.) I don't want to wish away a moment -- even the rough days. Steve's absence reminds me daily of the importance of being present, of being thankful for each day, of the privilege of shepherding Cooper and Katie through childhood.

We've got four years of special moments ahead -- marching at football games, cross country meets, dances, dates, science projects, graduation. Then Katie will start the cycle all over again.

Life continues.
Katie, Tyra and Cooper, August 2015