As we get older, death becomes a regular part of our lives. People we know and love, friends, coworkers, family start to leave us. Whether through natural causes (old age, disease) or not (accidents, overdoses, by their own hand) these people are gone, no longer a part of our lives. No longer a part of our routines.
The (s)hit-show that is 2019 has struck again, only 16 days in. I say this because 2019 has really gotten off to a rough start for us. Our family opened 2019 at a funeral for new mom’s cousin, who died right before Christmas. Just last week, one of my oldest and best friends lost his father in law, after a prolonged battle with Parkinson’s. When I spoke with his wife to offer my condolences, she said “I know this is something you can relate to” because she knew my own father was not only battling cancer, but Parkinson’s as well. This morning I was getting ready for work, eating breakfast when a text came across: ‘I know its early and i’m sorry, but did you hear about Steve? He passed away’.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing on my screen.
I text right back “call me now”.
I got the call and was told the horrible news. Our friend, lovingly referred to as ‘satan’ was gone. I was completely flabbergasted, gob smacked, crushed. How can this be? What happened? I just spoke to him like right around Christmas!?? Like many people, I wanted to know what happened. I knew he was moving from where he has been the past year and a half back to his home state of Kansas. Did something happen on that trip? Was it his health? So many questions I had and unfortunately my friend had no answers. I have gotten some information, but not enough that will answer all of my questions, and not knowing is always hard.
I met Steve years ago at a local sports bar close to where I was living at the time. There was a group of guys watching Sunday football and one guy was lamenting not starting quarterback Trent Green, who was having a phenomenal day. I was looking through the Sunday paper at the table in front of them, turned around and pointed at the interior of the paper and said “says here you should have started Trent Green!” After a good laugh, they invited me to sit with them and the rest is history. I became friends with that group and we still meet for Sunday football, over a decade later (I don’t make it as often as I used to, but remember, I was younger and single, now I have different priorities, but I make it a point to go a couple of Sundays every season to see my friends).
Steve and I hit it off and we became good friends. We didn’t see each other very often, but he would always pick up the phone if I called, whether we were living in the same state or not and he would call from time to time just to check in. Steve understood the value of a good old fashion voice to voice conversation. As I look through the feed on his social media accounts all I see are similar stories to mine, a true friend who took a genuine interest in other people and their families. Steve would often ask about our little guy and new mom, and I would share stories of little league achievements, daily life as a dad and husband, work and other milestones.
Now, about the nickname. I don’t know exactly where it came from. I am sure from his younger, wilder days. But everyone referred to him as ‘Satan’. The trophy for the Fantasy football league we all participate in is referred to as the ‘antichrist crystal’ and is one of those laser etched cubes you can get in a mall kiosk. Instead of having the Eiffel tower or a hot air balloon in it, it has Steve’s head with horns on it. It seems very sacrilegious, and there is even a story of one of our friends winning the league one year and the housekeeper would always cover it with a tissue when she cleaned his study in the house because she thought it was evil. If you knew Steve, he was not anti-religious. As the matter of fact, when I told him about reconnecting with my own faith these past couple years, he was very supportive and encouraging.
We lose people. Things happen. Circle of life kind of thing. But some losses just hit you much harder than others. And you never know when the last time you are going to talk about football, family or how your job is going. I don’t want to make it appear that losing one friend over another is better, each loss hurts, some people just end up making a deep impact in your life, and Steve was one of those people for me. Not just me, but the entire circle of friends I made that day at the bar. When I spoke to another member of this circle of friends today, he said that he ‘lost a brother’ and I know that is the truth.
Steve, your laugh was infectious, your smile could light up the room. Your sense of humor had us all in stitches. I hope you are at peace, sitting next to our friend Willy, taking a shot of tequila. We will miss you dearly, you made a big impact in our lives.