His Life in Pictures

As we began the painful process of planning Steve’s funeral, I was told that I could display some pictures of Steve in the funeral home (this was before photos could be made into videos that are now shown at funerals). I had no idea what to do with the pictures and, as anyone who knows me can attest, I am not creative at all!

I don’t know which day it was, a day or two after he died perhaps, when I started going through years of pictures. I dug some out of my closet. Some came out of our garage. I took pictures out of frames and out of photo albums. I found pictures with each of our family members so that no one would be left out. I honestly don’t know how I did it. Selecting the pictures to be shown at the love of my life’s funeral. I don’t remember if I cried or laughed as I looked through them. The one thing that sticks with me, though, is the memory of being surrounded by family and friends. My house was full of people who loved me!

While I was sorting through pictures, we were also finding songs to play at the funeral. I have a vivid memory of singing to the song, “I Can Only Imagine,” by Mercy Me while I’m sitting on the floor surrounded by pictures of the man I loved. A man who was now gone.

My wonderfully creative friends saved me that night! They took the pictures that I selected and made beautiful posters with them. The posters were displayed at the funeral for everyone to see how special Steve was to us.

There were lots of pictures of me with Steve over the years. It was amazing to see how young we were in some of them! Photos of vacations to the beach, Disney World, Jamaica and many trips to visit our families in Michigan. There were pictures of our pets, our friends, our nieces and nephews. Pictures of us at weddings and graduations. All of the major milestones in our lives were documented in the photos on those poster boards.

Steve was a great father so of course I selected many pictures of him with our children. Some of my favorites were the unposed ones; like the one where he’s playing in the sand with our son or the one where he’s holding our baby girl and kissing her on the head. There was one extra-special picture on that poster, however. It was my ultrasound picture, dated 10/14/04, just 8 days before Steve died. He had gone with me to the doctor appointment so he saw our baby too. It was the only picture I had of our “peanut” so far, and it was as much a part of Steve as it was of me, so I put the picture on display for everyone to see. Steve had created THREE children, not just the two little ones running around with me.

After the funeral was over, I asked my sister-in-law to compile all of the pictures into an album for me. It was so hard to sum up Steve’s life in pictures but I had somehow managed to do it. I wanted to keep them all together so that our children could look at them whenever they wanted to see him again. She created a gorgeous album for me and I still treasure it!

When I look at the photo album now, it’s as if that life was all a dream. I hardly recognize myself in those pictures. I know that Steve’s death changed me, but it’s not until I look at old pictures do I realize just how MUCH I’ve changed. My faith is stronger now. I’m more independent. I’ve been raising three children on my own and they’re great kids. It makes me wonder if Steve would even recognize me if he were to see me today?

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Crazy For You

Music has the power to take me back in time. I can remember where I was and who I was with just by listening to a song. I will even feel emotions related to those memories sometimes. I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older, though, that not everyone feels so intensely about music. To some people, a song is just a song. But not to me…..

It was September of 1985. I was a freshman in high school and I had a big crush on an 11th grader named Steve. We were talking on the phone one night (it was September 24th to be exact – the night before Steve’s 16th birthday) when the subject of our upcoming homecoming dance came up. Steve said, “I could go stag or I could take you.” My reply was something along the lines of, “Yeah, you could take me.” That was it. We had plans for our first date and I was super excited!

I have a picture of us so I know exactly what I was wearing. A gray striped jumpsuit! Steve showed up late to pick me up and I had no idea that I would spend the next 19 years getting frustrated when he showed up late to EVERYTHING! As the years wore on, I would lie to him about the start time for events so that we would actually be on time….it would become known as “Steve time.” If a wedding was at 1:00, I told him it was at 12:30 😉

Anyway, we finally did arrive to the homecoming dance. Steve had the DJ dedicate a song to me. I’ll never forget the excitement I felt when he said, “To Mary From Steve” and started to play, “Crazy For You” by Madonna. My heart melted and that became “our song.” We danced to it that night in 1985. We would call each other on the phone and instead of saying hello, we would play our song into the phone. This was way before caller ID. Imagine how I felt when I would answer the phone, not knowing who was calling, and I would hear Madonna’s voice on the other end! I felt more loved than I can describe in words.

We would dance to it again at our wedding. I had “Crazy For You” engraved into Steve’s wedding band. We would play it in our living room and dance, for no reason at all. It was our song and anyone who knew us can attest to how special it was to us.

When Steve died, I was told that I could put three words on his gravestone. I was torn. He meant so much to so many people; how could I sum him up in just three words? Husband, Father, Son? Husband, Father, Brother? I really didn’t know what to do until Steve’s mother told me she knew which three words needed to go on his headstone: Crazy For You. I was extremely touched because those words meant everything to us but I didn’t realize that others knew how much they meant too. So that’s what I did. A lifetime of love summed up in three words on a gravestone.

Whenever I want to go back to those days of dancing in Steve’s arms, I just play the song and it all comes back….

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