You guys, I was thrown for a loop yesterday. I guess that's the way life is, seems to be moving along in a good way and then BAM! Something happens. I'm being interviewed as a guest on a podcast on Monday and the interviewer sent me a list of questions to look over for our chat. The one that got me really thinking is "how do you want to be remembered?" I was still thinking about it a few hours later when I got the notification that a friend from my childhood had died tragically and somewhat unexpectedly. How do you want to be remembered suddenly took on a whole new meaning. Here's the thing, I spent some of my formative years living in Florida as a kid, I'm still friends with a lot of the people I went to school with. My parents and brother still live there (I escaped!). We go back to visit twice a year, I keep in touch with and run into friends from years ago every time we're there. I try to keep up with stories of who's doing what through other friends and family along the way. Just this past Christmas my brother and I were talking about our friend Steve, he had moved back to Florida after traveling the world as a chef. He also had a history of substance abuse that so many of his friends and loved one's tried to help him fight. At the end of last year Steve was apparently doing well, had a good job and was focusing on his health, he seemed to be in a good place.
When I found out that he had passed away I can't say I was shocked, but that doesn't make it any less sad or tragic. Steve was so many things: talented at his craft, quick with a joke, lovable in a big guy bear hug kind of way. I can remember him entertaining us at parties when we were teenagers. Visiting me at my college apartment in Atlanta for a weekend, cooking dinner in my parent's kitchen on occasion. I see his smile, his big goofy grin always with warmth and sincerity behind it. He touched many, many lives in a good way and his loss will be felt deeply.
I've been reading Facebook tributes for the last few hours - comments from loved ones from across the world about what a great guy he was. A supportive friend, a mentor, someone who was so full of life and the same time, someone who battled a demon every day. My heart breaks for the amount of pain he must have been in, for the struggle he was facing. As a mother I can't imagine the pain his mother must be feeling. Knowing you tried to help your child for so long, and having to watch their life end so tragically is probably one of the worst things to have to endure. Addiction and depression are awful diseases. They affect not only the person afflicted, they affect so many on their path of destruction. My heart hurts for his family and friends, we will mourn him and celebrate him for years to come.
How do you want to be remembered? Think about that on Pay it forward Friday. It's heartening to see so many beautiful words expressed for a truly great person. Do you want your Facebook wall to be full of kind sentiments and memories for your loved ones to read and feel heartened by? Do you want to be revered for your contribution to society? Do you want to leave a legacy for your children to continue? I'll be thinking about this question over the weekend before I have to answer it on Monday. In the meantime, for this week, pay it forward with kindness. Maybe reach out to someone you haven't spoken to in a while. Spread some goodness in memory of someone you lost.
Rest well Stephen Schoembs, I pray that your demons are no longer and that you are finally at peace.