Growing up, there was a group of girls that I hung out with from junior high to high school and we were pretty tight. I say “pretty” because we were still girls. We did our fair share of gossiping or liking the same guy or creating completely unnecessary drama for the sake of creating completely unnecessary drama. (Thank you Jesus that I have boys!) But, overall, they were my best friends.
I was thinking about them the other day and the difference between them and the close friends that I have today. Besides the fact that we are no longer pimple faced teenagers, I think the biggest difference between my friends from my youth and my friends from today is that back then, I was friends with their entire family, and they were friends with mine. It was inevitable. We “hung out” at each other’s houses, so we got to know each other’s siblings (some of whom felt like our own) and each others parents (some of whom felt like our own.)
All of my friends had amazing dads. Not a dud in the group. They were all so different, but I loved each one. Stef’s dad was the goofy guy who would meander through the kitchen while we were chatting with her mom, probably pick up something to munch on, and tell some cheesy one liner, followed by his goofball laugh. Mindi’s dad was the tenderheart, which is weird because he was a cop, but he was the one who got called out for crying during The Lion King. My dad was the sarcastic funny guy. The one who told my friends to stop wandering around his house and made up crazy stories to get a laugh… and he always did. Kim’s dad was the huge teddy bear with the biggest heart and the biggest smile. He always made me feel like I was one of his own.
And Kim’s dad died last week.
When I heard the news I felt like I had been punched in the gut. I could literally feel my body going numb from head to toe while at the same time feeling like I was going to throw up. I hadn’t even seen Steve in years, but he was one of our dads!
When I think of Steve, I automatically think of Honduras. His heart had strong ties to that country and to the people that lived there. I had gone on two missions trips there, both of which Steve came, too. My best memory of Steve is actually in Honduras. I had moved there after college to be a full time missionary, but I was incredibly homesick (and thats an understatement.) My 22nd birthday had just passed and I knew Steve was coming to visit us and he was bringing gifts from home, and I was so excited about my gifts. I felt like they would comfort me while I was so far away from the people I loved the most. So, he came and I got my gifts and I was happy, and blah, blah blah. But the surprise came during his first morning at our house. He had woken up before me, so when I came out of my room I saw him standing in the living room. I can still see him as I’m writing this. I remember his smell because he had taken a shower and smelled all zestfully clean, which was such a nice smell compared to the burning trash. I remember him just standing there and smiling at me and he just said, “Good morning” and in that moment I realized he was “home” to me. His smile, and his presence and his hug meant more than any of those gifts or videos that got sent to me. I remember feeling like my own dad had come to visit. And he never treated me less that one of his own daughters. Never.
Although it’s tragic, it kind of make sense that he died while he was in Honduras, and that he died while serving a friend. Like I said, he was a big man, and his heart was even bigger. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
So, tomorrow is Steve’s memorial, and just to be completely honest, I’m dreading it. I know we’ll do our best to celebrate his life, and honor his memory, but it’s going to be sad. Heartbreakingly sad.
Steve has left behind an amazing family; a beautiful wife, three beautiful daughters, and three amazing grandkids. Pray for them.