Sunday June 23rd 2013, 10:35 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

We were eighteen, serving on a Mormon youth conference steering committee, the advisor assigned to me the woman who would later be my mother-in-law.

The adults had asked that the program have a little more to say than just this this and this here here and there.

I was asked to read the proffered piece aloud.

“Who *wrote* that?” Steve, deeply moved, asked the group at the large table.

That moment was the highest compliment I could ever have asked for and the first moment where I knew I might actually have a chance at becoming a writer. If Steve thought it was that good…

There’s a small handful of us out there who grew up together, who knew each other from our babyhoods, always there in the background, with other good friends too moving in before we all moved on (or not) from our corner of the Maryland suburbs but just us few who knew each other that long. Being members of the same church brought our families together from whatever our circumstances and equalized any outside differences inside, in our case, Chevy Chase chapel.

I married one of them.

I signed into Facebook this afternoon and immediately felt the breath knocked out of me. It was the first post I saw and for quite awhile the only one I wanted to see and I signed right back out while I tried to take it in.

Steve was gone.

I would never get to see him again.

Richard would never get to see him again.

At some primal level I still cannot understand how that could be. Steve’s *dad* and Richard’s dad were babies together and they’re still here!

Steve made my later lupus and Crohn’s combo a walk in the park. He started having some trouble with his hearing in high school, and at one point back then I tried to talk to him about it; my hearing loss had been diagnosed a couple of years earlier, progressive at the time, and I knew what a blow it could be. Neither of us knew then why it was happening to us.

But he didn’t want to talk about it. Too soon.

Mine later was found to be an allergy to aspirin, plain old garden-variety aspirin, a reaction from having climbed into the medicine cabinet as a toddler and overdosing on the candy-tasting baby pills.

His, not so much, and his sight began to have problems too.

But he graduated from college and then from an MBA program, married one of the nicest people I have ever met, and carried on as his sight and hearing both continued to slowly, inexorably dim.

My family and I were back home maybe ten years ago. I knew he had only the slightest peripheral vision and hearing left. It was summertime, traveling time, but he didn’t know we were coming and had no reason to expect me to be there from the other side of the country–and yet, when we came into church and I said hello to him, his face turned to wonderment and then mine did too as he asked, almost afraid to for half-disbelief half-joy, “Alison?!”

How he knew I did not know. But I knew it had to have meant a great deal to him to have been able to figure out that I was there, I really was, and so that moment meant all the more to me too. I had been wondering how to let him know, but there you go. He knew.

And I have hoped for another such moment ever since. Steve would know me. There was the pure certainty of a child’s trust in the thought, he always does. Steve would know. And he would be glad.

My parents moved away, then Richard’s parents moved away, and I no longer had quite reason enough to fly home to visit that ward.  We did seriously consider staying through the weekend when we were in Baltimore a few weeks ago just so we could do exactly that, but logistically, given the time Richard was already taking off from work and the extra thousand on the plane tickets it would have taken, we just couldn’t make it happen.

I so wish.

I’ve wondered from time to time over the years how long Steve would have to live with so much taken away from him. At the same time, so much was given to him: a good wife, good children, and the family financial resources to deal with whatever help they might ever need, and, best of all, a strong faith and a cheerful disposition that saw him and her both through so much.

The disease that had taken so much of his body finally claimed the rest today. Fifty-four years. It was enough. Our friend Brad let us know he got to go home.

Rest in great peace, old friend. And thank you for teaching me a little of what you knew: that there is more joy to be found than can ever be taken away from a grateful heart.

13 Comments so far
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My sympathies on the loss of a special person. Our ring of friends lost someone dear to a lot of people this week too. There will be two more special angels watching over us.

Comment by Jody 06.24.13 @ 4:53 am

I’m so sorry Alison — having recently lost a friend, I know the ache — rejoice in the knowledge that he is whole again — and that you will meet again

consider yourself hugged from afar

Comment by bev 06.24.13 @ 7:55 am

Sorry to hear you lost a dear friend. Life-long friends are very special.

Comment by Anne 06.24.13 @ 8:52 am

The ones we have loved have now moved on, but it is strange that we both mourn them and realize that they are now better off. Some day we will meet again.

Comment by Donald Meyer 06.24.13 @ 9:15 am

I am sorry for your loss (and his family’s loss.)

Comment by LauraN 06.24.13 @ 10:23 am

I hope that writing such a lovely tribute brings you comfort at this loss.

Blessed be.

Comment by twinsetellen 06.24.13 @ 6:37 pm

I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of a good friend. Blessings on his memory and hugs to you and yours and hugs to his family.

Comment by Kathy in San Jose 06.24.13 @ 8:12 pm

May you be blessed in your memories as you grieve this latest loss. Hugs

Comment by Ruth 06.24.13 @ 8:23 pm

It is hard to lose a great friend. And once again you proved you can write very well. Thinking of you and yours.

Comment by DebbieR 06.25.13 @ 5:40 am

What a lovely tribute – Peace to all of you as you grieve this loss.

Comment by Wanda Borman 06.25.13 @ 7:53 pm

I am heartily sorry for your loss. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into the great man!

Comment by Channon 06.26.13 @ 9:28 am

So sorry to hear this.
What a wonderful story of how he recognised you after all those years. Yes, you can write- you know how to touch us: to make us smile some days, or like today, blink away a tear at the loss of a man with a great heart.

Comment by tinebeest 06.26.13 @ 1:44 pm

I enjoyed reading your tribute to Steve. Hearing about our dear friend’s passing really threw me for a loop. He will be missed.

Comment by Jeffrey Barker 07.01.13 @ 3:22 pm

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