In the last couple weeks I've had two friends die from cancer. I will be writing a dedication blog post for both of them - separately. For this entry I'll be focusing on Steve.
Whenever I thought of strength, the person that came to mind was Steve. He was in great health and he was tough! He was a martial arts expert and biker - he even used to be a bouncer at a biker bar! He loved knives and the weirdest thing was under all that tough exterior, he had a kitten addiction. He and his wife Mickey had a ton of cats and a few birds. He had a remarkable story.
My husband and I met Steve and Mickey at church about a couple years ago. They really intrigued me because they seemed like opposites. As Mickey would put it, "He's leather and I'm lace." Mickey had this bubbly personality and Steve at first seemed kinda quiet. When I had learned he knew martial arts, I had asked him if he could teach me some and he was happy to do so. For a couple weeks we worked on Bagwa, but then we weren't really able to figure out how to anymore, I don't quite remember why though.
Last year while Nick and I were playing and wrestling, Nick accidentally pushed me into the wall, he learned his lesson though because he found out you can't push a fat person into a wall. There was a big hole in the wall. Mickey helped fix the wall and Steve would come over with her. Mickey even taught me how to fix burgers and tacos! I'd also go to Celebrate Recovery with Mickey. After Steve got sick though, she wasn't coming as often - which was understandable.
Last year in the spring, I had a massive overdose (for the second time) and had to be hospitalized. Steve and Mickey were going to visit me but by then I was already out of the hospital. Steve and Mickey knew my struggles and constant crisis'. My problems with being suicidal, cutting, and even understood my weight problems too. They never judged me for all my problems. Some people give up on me because my problems are just too complicated to understand. But Steve and Mickey never gave up on me.
Last year, somewhere between November and December, we found out Steve had stage four esophagus cancer. He couldn't keep things down. It broke my heart, but I prayed that God would heal him. Eventually it spread. It was so hard to see him so sick. He had a feeding tube because he couldn't keep anything down.
Nick and I moved to Atlanta in February because we had to get away from some people who were making our lives very difficult. Last week I saw on Facebook that Steve's cancer was terminal. I completely lost it. I guess Nick had told Mickey and she called me that night to check on me. I heard Steve in the background asking if I was okay. I felt really bad. Here I was upset asking God, "Why are you doing this to me? I've had two friends die from cancer this year already and now a third? I've got friends who are suicidal and cutting I'm trying to help. One of my best friends I've been friends with since I was a little kid wants nothing to do with me anymore because of politics. Why is this happening to me?" But Steve was the one dying and yet he and Mickey were worried about me. Nick and I were planning to go back to Knoxville to see Steve and Mickey on Thursday - the day after my birthday. When Monday came around Steve had gone downhill very quickly, so Nick and I went up to Knoxville to see them. The man who when I think of strength, was fading quickly. He was so sickly and weak. He was on oxygen and just skin and bone. He was mostly out of it. I wanted to cry, but I knew if I cried, I would have urges to hurt myself, so I buried my emotions. I wanted to be there for Steve and Mickey, just like they've always been there for me. If I hurt myself it would've made things worse for them. Nick and I visited Monday night, Tuesday, and a little on Wednesday. By Thursday night at 11:45, Steve passed away. It's been really hard for me, but I've been trying to bury my emotions at least until I return to Atlanta next week. I have to be strong for the people depending on me, and for Steve and Mickey. I can't be there for them if I hurt myself. I know they probably wouldn't want me to bury my emotions, but I can't risk hurting myself.
It was so weird. Here a year ago Nick had thrown a surprise birthday party for me and Steve and Mickey were there helping celebrate it. No one had any idea that Steve had a cancer. A year later he's gone. I felt even worse when I found out Steve had passed because that night I prayed, "God, if you're not going to heal him, just end his suffering." Around the same time I had prayed that, he passed away. Part of me blames myself for that. Part of me says, "If you had left that part out maybe he'd still be here." But when I think about it, that's pretty prideful to think that way. God making him die because I said something? Besides, I really wanted him to be healed not die.
Yesterday I was talking to my friend Kevin who I've known since I was a little kid (our parents are best friends) about it. He lost his mom to cancer when he was little. I asked him what would comfort him and he said when he was little, he would ask God to heal his mom, but when she died, she wasn't healed. Now 20-30 years later, he thought about in the last couple weeks and realized God HAD healed her, just not in the way he had wanted God to. Indeed, Steve has been healed now that he is with Christ. I wanted Steve to be healed physically. Even though he was not healed like I had wanted him to be, he is healed in heaven. Right now this doesn't really give me comfort, but, it is the truth and honestly, I would rather be healed with Jesus than suffering here on earth.
Some day, we'll see Steve again. I know he'll be happy to see us. We'll certainly be happy to see him. Thanks for being there for me Steve, you are greatly missed.