Monday, July 16, 2012

One Good Guy

I lost a childhood friend this weekend. Steven Clark, who shared the classrooms, hallways, and playgrounds of my elementary and junior high school with me, died of pancreatic cancer on Saturday.

Steve and I hadn't seen each other since we graduated from Brainerd Jr. High in 1966, but thanks to the power of Facebook, we reconnected a couple of years ago. I remembered him as kind, smart, and thoughtful. From our Facebook communications I learned he was still all those things and more.

The two of us shared a classroom all the way through elementary school. His face is in every single class picture I have, from first through sixth grades. (He's in the white shirt holding up half of the PTA award banner in our fifth grade picture above. That's little me grinning for all I'm worth, hands folded, below him.) Steve was big brother to four younger siblings, the very model of what a big bro should be. He never got caught up in any crazy school kid drama - whereas, I was always in the midst of it - and was always the even keel with a word of encouragement and friendship. One good kid.

As soon as we found each other on Facebook, Steve emailed me and said "We just have to talk!"  He called, and we spent the better part of an hour filling in the years in between - family, vocations, music, religion, memories. You name it, we talked about it. He sounded the same. We laughed a lot about things done and left undone (for which you're supposed to repent, I know). As a church organist, he had occasion to play in Episcopal churches; we spent time affirming our love for the great choral tradition and liturgy of my church. We brought each other up to date on where various classmates were and what they were doing. Just like two friends catching up after summer vacation - a very long summer vacation.

My travels took me to/through Nashville twice since reconnecting with Steve, both family events allowing no opportunity to  meet up with my old friend. I was hoping we'd have more time in the coming years to get together, but it wasn't to be. My brother David died of pancreatic cancer in 1990, and when I heard Steve's news in February, it gave me a jolt. Yet, I really hoped that medicine had come far enough along on the disease in the last couple of decades to make the prognosis not as dire as it had been for us. Alas, it hasn't come far enough.

I do feel fortunate to have learned that the good kid I knew all those years ago grew up to be one good guy. Rest in joy and peace, Steve Clark.


Anonymous said...

Sorry about your friend Mary.

MaryB said...

I've just learned from one of his sisters that Steven's memorial service will be Sunday, July 29, at Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville. He'll be well celebrated with beautiful music and liturgy, I've no doubt.

Joy Des Jardins said...

Facebook has reconnected so many old friendships. I'm sorry about the loss of your old friend Mary. Much love, Joy

Liz said...

A beautiful tribute. Such a hateful disease.