This is the anniversary of the day I lost my best friend, the brother of my heart, Steve. And then two years and two days later, we lost his partner, Stephen. AIDS took both of them.
Known collectively as "the Steves" these two men were two of the most beautiful people I've every known. And I miss them every day. Every single day.
Steve was a shining man. He always had a smile and never had his wallet. In all the years of our friendship it seems every time we met for lunch or dinner, I paid because he'd left his wallet at home. And it wasn't a scam -- he was just that forgetful.
He never seemed to make it through a meal without spilling something. And he was so gorgeous that people's heads would actually turn when he walked into a room. He was a model for a while, so my opinion that he was gorgeous isn't just love talking. He really was.
His laugh was infectious. Sadly, so was the disease that killed him.
Looking back over my life, Steve is the one who had the most profound affect on me. It was Steve who first loved me unconditionally. Steve who made me feel accepted for who I was. Growing up in a family where I was always the odd one out, finding this level of love staggered me.
We met in high school. I was a senior, he was a freshman. We were both in the marching band and just became friends. We hung out, went to movies, ate a lot of hamburgers. We cut class to see Alien and screamed through the whole thing. We went to midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show and dressed up like the characters. We saw each other through bad haircuts, bad breakups, and bad apartments. We helped each other move. We bought each other presents. And we never felt like a new relationship was really serious unless we got the other's approval of our new boyfriend.
I can't believe I'm married to a man who never met Steve. It seems unbelievable to me. Here are the two men who meant the most to me and they're separated by the veil of death. When I married my first husband, Steve was by my side as Man of Honor. He and my ex were dear friends and my ex was part of the group that cared for Steve when he was dying. But the fact that Husband never met Steve still surprises me. Sometimes I'll catch myself saying "remember when we went camping in Yosemite?" only to recall that Husband wasn't there. It seems wrong that they don't share the same memories.
In the years since we lost the Steves my wonderful circle of friends, who are my family in all ways but blood, has stayed intact. I'm still friends with my ex. The core group who cared for these two wonderful men are still in my life -- thank god. And whenever I'm around them I'm reminded of how lucky I am to have these people in my world.
But there will always be a Steve-shaped hole in my heart.
Hug someone today and tell them that you love them.