To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.
I don't remember the exact date Steven and I became friends, it seemed like we were friends forever. He was one of those people you meet that makes you feel instantly at ease, he was one of those people who calls you friend first, not getting all hung up in whatever your earthly flaw might be.
The first thought I remember having, after reading his first comment left on my old AOL blog Ellipsis, was... I like this person. Then I visited his blog, (sometimes) photoblog, and I remember being knocked out by his amazing talent with a camera. Just looking at his photos made me smile, just looking at his photos made me happy inside. Happy was something I really needed.
One day, in early December 2003, I got a phone call from a relative, informing me of my mother's passing. She had been gone almost 6 weeks, but my siblings had decided not to tell me. I had to hear about it through my niece, who felt I had a right to know.
Needless to say, I opened up my blog, and opened a vein of pain. I blogged about what it felt like to find out that way. I had no real idea anyone would really notice, I was new to blogging and the last thing I had on my mind was whether or not anyone would read what I wrote. But Steven did. He read what I wrote, and understood the pain I was in.
He contacted a friend of mine who also blogged, and asked her to check in on me. Someone cared. Someone I barely knew... cared. Someone who I barely knew, took the time to make sure I was okay. That single, solitary gesture might seem like a small thing, but it wasn't to me. It was a first gesture of friendship. It was more than my own flesh and blood did for me.
I felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders that night. I felt like my life had been touched by someone extraordinary... and come to find out... it really had been. I had somehow made a friend, and along with it, I also found a mentor. Steven had an amazing gift of the visual. His blog was a daily feast for the eyes. Steven's floral photography was beautiful, but he also enjoyed other subjects, especially critters and cats, and his cat Pickle in particular.
Steven and I shared a love of photography, and a love of cats. His cat Pickle, made Internet friends with my cat Elvis. One of my favorite memories was our cats debating over who should be elected president in 2008. Elvis was supporting Hillary Clinton, while Pickle was rooting for Obama. LOL. Both cats had their own guest entries on our blogs, and when all was said and done, they shook paws and remained best buddies... as all mature cats do.
A short time later that year, a few weeks before the presidential election, my Elvis succumbed to cancer. Pickle, who was over 14 years old, was also in poor health, and Steven and I shared in what was to be the inevitable future. We celebrated out cats lives, and the happiness they brought us, and we grieved together when we lost them.
I found out about Steven's death, by accident a couple months ago. As I read the online memorial once, twice, three, four times, I hoped somehow it wasn't true. I read it over and over, hoping the content would somehow change. It didn't. The realization that Steven was gone was finally beginning to become reality. I thought about what our last conversation might have been.
I remember he had decided to take a short break from blogging, after Pickle's death, to kinda regroup and catch his breath. I remember him telling me that he needed the time off, but it wouldn't be for long because he enjoyed sharing his photography too much to stay away too long.
Days, months and finally years went by. I thought of him, and where he might be. I considered calling him, but decided not to. I felt like if he wanted to talk he knew he could call anytime. Somehow it felt like it should be his decision. I sent a couple emails to tell him how much we all missed him, but there was no reply. Finally I decided to let it go. Sometimes people stop blogging, for many reasons, so I felt like if he wanted to share his plans... he would.
Even sitting here right now, I know in my head I will never see his fun little smile at the bottom of one of my blog entries again, but in my heart... well...
Sometimes you meet someone in life, and you wonder how in this great big world you ever got to be so blessed. Steven was one of those people.
Goodbye my friend. I will miss you always. Think of you often. And smile when I do. :-)
**If you knew Steven, and would like to share your own memories of him, there is still plenty of time to participate. Simply click the link at the beginning of this entry to be redirected to the official Round Robin blog, where you can find all the details and links to other participants.