Back in the fall of 1976, I started as a freshman at tiny Black Rock High School. I was 13. A big, strapping hormonally balanced 6 feet tall and a bit loud and boisterous. But then I met Steve.
Our first encounter was exactly what you would expect from the two biggest kids in the class. We butted heads. Words were exchanged. Then an appointment was made for the boy’s gymnasium locker room, where we would settle our disagreement with our fists.
The matter lasted only a few seconds. But it forged a friendship that would last all these decades. Steve told me I was the only person in that whole school to ever stand up to him. And we became fast friends. Our gangly teenage years would fly by fast enough. Life would come along and deal us each our own set of challenges and situations.
Yet, our friendship endured, and strengthened over time. In spite of being separated by thousands of miles for 4+ decades, we stayed in touch, especially if either of us was facing trials and hardships.
When my dad suffered a very sudden ailment, which would eventually take his life, Steve was right there.
When surgeries for our daughter would come along, Steve was always one of the first people.
I would call him when my soul was weary. And he, likewise, would call me when life threw him every curve-ball.
Steve and I were brutally honest with each other. And nobody else could come from the authentic angle we did as best friends. it was a no-BS relationship.
When Steve faced long odds more than a dozen years ago, he was told that he shouldn’t have lived through the illness that surrounded his pancreas. The doctors were flummoxed to try and explain it. But that was quintessentially Steve. And time and again, for years, he faced every challenge with courage, humor and no fear.
The past three years, he faced a Widow-maker blockage in his heart. The doctors put in a stent and sent him on his way. This year, however, his heart began having problems. Over time it was clear something had gone wrong. BY the time they determined what the problem was, it could no longer be corrected with surgery. The damage done, his long ordeal began. 4 months in CVICU and every time one thing would be remedied, something else would surface.
Cascading problems, through varying stages of consciousness and incoherence, Steve bravely fought. His daughter, Krystal, a very competent nurse herself, monitored his condition and worked very hard to assure he was getting proper care. Her tireless care and devotion was inspiring and humbling.
When our phone rang this morning the news did not shock us, as we had braced for this for some time. But Krystal’s heart is so broken by his passing today, and Susan and I were both very frustrated that we couldn’t be there to just give hugs, and shoulders for her to cry on.
Steve is at peace now. He ran his race, and strove to tell everybody exactly where he was headed and who he would see when he got there.
We trust that completely, and know we have not seen the last of my friend, my brother, Steve.
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