Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Remembering "Stevie D."

It was around this time, five years ago, when he went missing...

There is really no way to describe the desperate feelings of helplessness one has when something like this happens.  I remember the look that must have played across my face when I first heard the words, "Steve's missing."  I had to have smirked as if to say, "Yeah right... he'll be home by tonight."  It just wasn't his style to take off.  After days went by, and then weeks... it was apparent that something was terribly wrong.

But wait... There is so much more to this story, this person.  I have to back up and let my memory take hold.  I want you to know Steve the way I knew him.  I want to remember him, and smile.  Which is probably why I'm writing this.  I haven't thought about Steve for a while and as this all played out, I really had no way to express what was going through my heart.  So this is entry is really more for me.

Years ago, when I was about 21 (ok, many years ago), I worked in a chinese restaurant where I also happened to make many close friends, and also met my husband later down the road.  This was before him, before my beautiful girls, before many things... I was still having fun and hanging out in the lounge every weekend when Karaoke was still the cool thing to do on Friday and Saturday nights.  There was a small group of us that bonded together like a second family, not only there, but in life as well.  I love to sing, as many of you know, and this was one of the few places I could just be myself, have a few drinks and socialize with my friends. 

One particular Friday night, a somber, good looking man sat all alone at the end of the bar.  I had noticed him, but didn't give him much thought, as I was too busy socializing!  After a while, he approached me and handed me a piece of paper.  A song request paper for the karaoke.  I looked up at him puzzled. 

"Would you sing this song with me?"  He asked quietly.

I looked down at the slip of paper that read:  "Almost Paradise"  remember that beautiful love song from the movie Footloose?  Yeah, THAT one.

Well, I wasn't into doing duets.  Often times the men who sang Karaoke did so after getting so completely smashed that they didn't know what the lyrics were, and I was serious about my singing... not that I thought I was so great, but I wasn't into public humiliation... at least not before one too many Mudslides!  But something about this quiet, reserved man made me not want to say no.  I decided to take my chances.

"Sure, go hand it in."  I suggested, and he did. 

When it was our turn, we met up at the microphones, and I was very nervous.  Still, he seemed very sweet.. I was anxious to hear his voice.  The music started, and he held the mic up and began to sing the first verse..

"I thought that dreams belonged to other men... 'cause each time I got close, they'd fall apart again." 

OH... good Lord in heaven.  I almost forgot to sing the next line.  His voice was that of an angel.  Then we reached the chorus, where the voices blend and harmonize together.  The entire room, full of half drunken, loud happy people, went completely dead silent.

And so began a new friendship...

He had suggested going out to a movie sometime.  I had just stepped out of a not so healthy relationship, and was in no hurry to begin another.  Still, I was pretty sure that in time our friendship would blossom and grow into something quite beautiful.  Then I introduced him to my friend, "karen"... that was the end of THAT idea..  she could attach and pull strings on a man like you wouldn't believe.  And when she saw Steve, she knew he would be hers.  And that he was.

So I played the best friend and backed off, politely.  And rightly so, as they went on to date and later marry.  I sang in their wedding... he sang in mine.  Wealso sang duets in our friend's weddings!  Our voices blended together like magic.  We even traveled to compete in karaoke contests together! 

As time went on, much of our time was spent together, even after our marriages and children.  We also vacationed together in New Jersey for quite a few years in a row.  The times were special, but also a bit strained.  See, I knew things that no one else knew.  I also felt things that no one else knew.  It was not always an easy time.  When you're on the outside looking in, and knowing things that you shouldn't know, and wanting to make other's aware of certain things, it can result in a major disaster.  I learned quickly, after trying to make things right, that it wasn't my place, and almost lost them both.  I realized that M.Y.O.B  is really the best policy.  But near the end, well, about a year before the end, I just had to stop being around it.  The visits became less and less... I just could not stand to be around them knowing what I knew, and letting it happen.  It was too hard.  What was even harder was watching him figure it out on his own, and not doing anything about it.  That was like a knife in my heart.

So summer 2001 was upon us... the plan was to vacation in NJ again, despite the goings on.  It was just something we did together.  Our family and their's.  The reservation had been made since the year before when we were there last. 

And then he disappeared.

I honestly thought he was just angry.  We all tried to believe that for the longest time.  And that made us all angry in return.  How could he just leave his kids?  It was so out of character, with all that he put up with.  Then the time came for our vacation.  The reservations were cancelled.  I was numb from not understanding. I spent so much time looking up at the sky and praying countless prayers that he would come home soon.  Or that at least, God would watch over him, wherever he was and keep him safe... little did I know that he was already in God's hands.

Six weeks later, I received the call.

They found him, lying under a tree in a field not far from his work.  He had left work that morning after a very upsetting phone call, walked to that spot under the tree,   and died.

This is very heart wrenching for me to write about and I hope that I am not upsetting anyone with this story.  I spoke at Steve's funeral, spur of the moment, and talked about that first night that we met.  The story was all tongue tied and through many tears.  I've been thinking a lot about him, being the time of year it is, and I wanted to put to words some of my thoughts, and this was the way I wanted to do it. 

So, Steve... Stevie D... I want you to know that I will always remember you.  I will always sing our songs in my heart.  "Almost Paradise" (you're finally there, hon),  "Up Where We Belong",   "Stop Dragging My Heart Around!"  Oh the looks we shared with THAT one!  "Separate Lives"... oh the list goes on and on.  That you were a special person in my life is something I will carry in my heart always.  I am looking forward to singing with you again someday.  I'm sorry for all that you went through in this life... and that you didn't feel strong enough to brave it out.  I only wish you could've known that I was here for you. 

See you soon...

Thanks for listening, friends!



littlelady1699 said...

steve sounds like a wonderful man....don't worry you will see him again in heaven.
don't be sad. he would not want you to be. thanks for sharing

bobbysgirl8584 said...

Michelle: I am so sorry about all of this and about the loss of your friend Steve.  How horrible it must have been for all of you who loved and cared about him.  Know he is always with you; smiling down on you and looking out for you.

scotthlori said...

So sorry for your loss.  He sounds like a wonderful friend.  


radar446 said...

Michelle, such a touching story.  My heart goes out to you.


am4039 said...

I am so sorry, I had a few tears in my eyes while reading this. Do you still talk to his wife or see his kids? Sorry again.

mgmturner said...

Michelle...that was a beautiful tribute to Stevie.  I think that just about the time I was writing my entry in my PJ about Dee and me, you were writing this one.  In all probability, what you hinted at that Stevie was dealing with & the phone call he received, was probably a similar situation I was describing in my journal.   So sorry for that - although I'm not sure if you understand what I even mean by that.

Thank you for sharing your heart.


siennastarr said...

Oh, Michelle, this entry made me get all teary.  I felt your pain at the loss of Steve and the friendship you shared.  This was a beautiful tribute to him, and thank you so much for sharing it..


onemoretina said...

    Hello, Michelle ... What a sad and beautiful story.  I am glad you decided to write about it, because it will probably help you to sort out your feelings.  This reminded me so much of a similar situation in my life.  I found that at certain times the feelings just seemed so much stronger .. sometimes I had a clue as to why ( a particular time of year, etc ) but sometimes, I had no idea why my friend would be on my mind so much.  I guess that's just nature's way of allowing us to deal with our feelings so that we can put them away.  I hope that writing this helped.  tina

akasamdodsworth said...

The poignancy of this story and the touching way you have related it cannot help but pull at the heartstrings.  So many times in life, what we face seems so overwhelming and we feel so alone.  But we should never underestimate the healing strength of the hands outstretched to us - and never be too proud or too afraid to accept them and let them raise us up in our time of need.  As your own heart remembers and silently grieves Michelle, know that the hands of many are also here for you.


demandnlilchit said...

It's loves like that......and they don't have to be romantic loves.......just a love like that even death can't seperate! I hope his spirit is at peace now. Wonderful memories!

bgilmore725 said...

This one goes very deep... love hurts like that. And you just never forget when it hurts like that. Bea