Saying Goodbye

23 07 2008

We said goodbye to Stew yesterday.

We spoke about his laughter and his kindness. Our friend Misty spoke of the funny things because he made her promise that basically he wanted to put the fun in his own funeral. (Stew was awesome with the gallows humor.) Misty talked of the time he was on the radio saying a mystery celebrity was going to show up at the local County fair and how he and his cohorts talked about it for weeks. The entire media from the local newspaper and other radio stations simply took it for fact and were wondering who this was and how had Stew scooped them.

Tons of people showed up to see who it was but what they didn’t know was that Stew rented a limo with tinted windows and showed up in the limo and got out of the car.

The local media had been had. Misty and I love that story. We had the same stories and she spoke before me telling his stories which were all of ours. I slowly folded up what I had written and put it back in my purse because the many things she had brought up were in my eulogy.

She was exquisite.

Chris spoke next and for the first time in the 17 years I’ve known him, I heard his voice break. He said the things about their friendship that were honest and so real that I had to put my hand on the arm of the chair and squeeze because I thought I might lose it. His voice broke and I had to go into a zone in my head so I wouldn’t lose it. He talked about when he and Stew met each other, they didn’t like each other. I was around for that one. They were wary as they both are competitive and they both were morning men on the radio and they would both talk to me about the other one that came from a place where they respected the other one but they wanted to be the best. But they found each other and I don’t think I’ve ever seen two men cultivate and enjoy a friendship as much as those two. Through divorces and children and real life, these two loved each other more than I can explain.

But it was Squirrel Queen who spoke of her friend and how she had him to herself for one hour a day, six days a week and then she had to share him with the world when he went on the air that tore us up. You would have been so proud of her because she spoke so deeply and with so much love and passion regarding Stew that it made it hard to breathe.

Then it was my turn. Every one had spoken of the things I’d written down so I had to wing it. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember really what I said but it came from my heart. I talked about how he comforted me. How he was paid to talk for a living but that he was one of the best listeners I’ve ever known. I talked about the time I had covered a terrible car accident where two elderly people had died and how he sat with me on the back steps of the radio station. We sat in silence but he knew I had some pretty awful images sitting in my head. The sign of true friendship is that the space between two people can be that we can communicate without speaking. He comforted me while the bad stuff swirled around in my head just by sitting with me. I wasn’t alone with the ugly images of death. He knew without asking. I spoke that Stew gave us the stars, he loved astronomy and space and that at night, we could look up and know that those bright lights in the sky were I believe him to be. I looked up last night and said hi. I believe he heard me.

It’s funny. Both Misty and I quoted things from his blog. (I think that’s important. His words are forever captured online, archived much like Winston’s although Stew really didn’t understand the whole blogging thing. And after time, as the bone cancer went on the march, it became to painful for him to type.)

His son spoke last and he was speaking to his mother. It was important for him to tell her things that I felt like I was eavesdropping on a private conversation. It was important, probably the most important eulogy given.

And then it was over. The chapel filled with hundreds of people and as I looked out I realized that Stew was indeed the richest man in town with the friendships that he had cultivated over the years.

One of his and my favorite songs is Vienna by Billy Joel. I didn’t know it was going to play. When it did, I smiled within myself. It’s a song about longing. Stew had ideas of the world and he was an amazing man. When I heard the song it reminded me of things left undone. For him, for me and I guess for us all.

He was 48-years-old.

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4 responses

23 07 2008
Russ

This is beautiful, ‘Coma. Stew was obviously blessed to have friends like you and SQ, and the two of you were obviously blessed to have him.

That part will always be with you.

23 07 2008
jagadiah

Stew sounds like a wonderful human being. I am so sorry for your loss.

23 07 2008
Kathy T.

*hugs* Your words are beautiful when you reflect on your friendship with Stew. I wore his shirt the other day in his honor.

23 07 2008
skyhawkbbgirl

Well done my friend…. about our friend. I feel fortunate to be in such a great circle of friends.

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