When I moved back from Indiana to my hometown I was starting my sophomore year in high school. It wasn't so scary because I knew a lot of people from Jr. High and grade school and had kept in touch with a few friends. They had met new people in the year I was gone but I was welcomed back like I had never left. I just kind of folded in.
One of the friends that I was introduced to was Steve. My friend Jackie actually wanted to date him. Steve was funny, he was short, and he had the best smile and the biggest feet. Jackie and him dated for a while then for some 14 year old reason they broke up. Steve asked me out after a while and after oking it with my friend we started dating. We dated through Valentines Day, had our first kiss at a school basketball game, we had our share of inside jokes, we met at the park after school, talked on the phone every night, we were pretty much inseparable. For some other reason I can't really remember we broke up, we stayed friends though. He knew everything about me, we shared a locker, we still talked every day, joked and laughed and met at the park. He was my best friend in every way.
Steve called me 14 years ago this morning and told me he was going fishing with some buddies. I said have fun call me when you're done and went about my day. He didn't call me and I didn't call him I figured I'd always have tomorrow. Early the next morning I got a phone call from another friend. She asked me if I read the paper or watched the news. I said yeah (I hadn't I was 15 why would I want to read the paper or watch the news) She told me that one of the 2 boys that had drowned the night before was Steve….They still couldn't find his body…I don't really remember hanging up, I don't remember saying anything, most of the day is a blur. I remember crying so loud that my aunt called my mom home from work, I remember leaving with some friends and driving around making up crazy scenarios about where he was and how he was ok. It helped get through the next few days. We all knew he wasn't coming back. The Mighty Mississippi coughed him up about 20 miles from where he went under 3 days later. I don't really know why but knowing he was found made me feel better, I guess maybe because now I would have a definite answer.
In the days before his funeral a bunch of us hung out at his moms sharing stories and talking about him. His visitation was the hardest one I think I have ever been to. I watched all my big strong guy friends break down, some of them fell to their knees at the casket, which we had loaded with all sorts of goodies for him to have with him in Heaven. I remember the sitting room had this mirror it was called an infinity mirror or something like that and every time I looked in it I felt better because I felt like I could see right into Heaven, I can't explain much more than that I just know that mirror was a huge comfort and I really wish I could have one at my house.
The funeral was harder than the visitation, His family played his favorite song, they played the song him and I had made "ours" I talked about him which I am so glad I did. And we had to say goodbye.
I have been to the cemetery a few times in the last 14 years; I have never been strong enough to go to the place where he was when he drowned. I still talk to him a lot. I think about him all the time. Over the years I have lost touch with his family but would want them to know that they are in my thoughts every day. I loved him, I still do.
Some times I will dig out my folder that has all things Steve in it and I will cry and laugh and remember. I am still scared of the river; I try to avoid it especially in certain places. I have a hard time going over the bridges but every time seems a little bit easier.
I decided the best way to end my post about Steve would be to end it with a poem I wrote for him. It won 1st place in a local poetry contest and I think that was a great way to honor him.
In Loving Memory
I want to see his face again
I long to see his smile
I need to hear his voice once more
If just for a little while
My mind wants him here with me,
But still he's far away
It's trying to think of everything
To make him come to stay
My heart is searching soulfully
To hide the love inside
But the love I have inside for him
Is something I simply cannot hide
I will sit here wondering
How it could've been
And I'll sit here waiting
For my chance to come again
(Dedicated to Steven C. Morse on August 14, 1996)