Sunday, June 28, 2009

Gone But Not Forgotten

Hi folks,

As most of you know by now, my brother-in-law Steve passed away earlier this month after a year-long battle with leukemia. It's taken me a while to write something about him, mainly because his death was something that was too big and emotional to express in words, let alone in something as insignificant as a blog post. Steve was a big part of my life, and his passing came as a shock to everyone who knew him. Although he had been sick for a year, his positive attitude and determination convinced us all that he would be able to overcome his illness. It's been difficult adjusting to normal life these past few weeks knowing that he's not with us anymore. I do want to share a few thoughts of Steve with you all, and since he was a reader of this blog, I think he would appreciate that.

I first met Steve a few weeks after meeting Cindy. My initial impression of him was that he was friendly and easy-going; in fact, I never once saw him get angry during the whole time that I knew him. He had a calming presence that took the stress out of whatever difficult situation he was in. Some of my earliest memories of him were from a weekend trip to Vancouver that he, his wife Johanna, Cindy, and I took in late 2006. It was fun exploring the city with Steve, because he had an amazing curiosity. He was fascinated by things that were new and different, and he was able to recognize the subtle qualities that made certain things unique and interesting. I think most people lose this sense of discovery and become more jaded as they get older, but not Steve. The four of us went on a lot more adventures around the Northwest, as well as trips to New Mexico, Utah, and Oklahoma. I will always have great memories of those times.

It would be an understatement to say that Steve was a smart guy. He had a reputation as a brilliant computer engineer, first with Microsoft and later with iLike. I don't know anything about programming, but I remember how quickly his mind worked whenever he encountered some sort of problem. Naturally, he loved gadgets and technology. At the same time, he had a great sense of style, and he could easily blend in with the hip Capitol Hill crowd. He always seemed to be one step ahead of everyone else. And yet, there was never any kind of attitude with Steve; he was a genuinely sweet guy.

One of the reasons I got along well with Steve was because he was quiet and laid-back, something I could relate to. Steve was the last guy to let you know if something was bothering him. I think he just really disliked creating any kind of drama, and he was happiest when everyone was getting along and things were going smoothly. During the year that he was sick, he tried his best to keep his friends and family from worrying too much about him. I don't think he ever felt sorry for himself during the last year of his life; he kept a positive outlook even during the most difficult times. He did an amazing job at keeping everyone up to date with his blog, and perhaps his detailed explaination of his disease and treatment was a way to deal with the enormity of it all.

I feel fortunate that I got to know Steve pretty well during the last few years. Cindy and I probably hung out with him and Johanna about twice a week, usually having dinner together or working on some kind of home project. I always imagined that he would've been a great father someday, and it makes me sad that my own child will never get the chance to meet him. I feel terrible for Cindy and for Steve's parents, who did the great thing of moving out to Seattle last year to be with him; it must be so devastating to lose a brother or a son. And I'm especially sorry for Johanna: she and Steve were so wonderful together, and when he became ill, she devoted her life to being his caregiver. She is a true saint.

It's no surprise that Steve had a lot of friends, and he enriched all of our lives. His spirit lives on in the memories of everyone who knew him. Steve was a great guy, and he will be missed.