So I just found out this evening that an old friend of mine, Steve Noblin, passed away. He was a month older than I am and we had known each other since we were about 12 or 13 years old (the 7th grade). As it turns out he had some kind of liver problem and he unexpectedly died before they could figure out what it was (not cancer or sclerosis). He was a good guy and blah blah blah…Steve would NOT like me to go on about how cool he was or any of that nonsense. He would probably try to kick my ass for saying anything along those lines because he wouldn’t want anyone to think he was a puss, despite being a good person. He is survived by his wife, mom and pop, and younger brother. His older brother had committed suicide when we were in highschool. We pretty much spoke to each other every day while in school, and then continued to speak to each other quite often while in college. He and his wife moved away to San Francisco to study computers and nursing and we still kept in touch fairly often, if nothing else just so he could tell me to keep trying to get through college. The weird thing was when he and I both moved back to St. Louis (I was in Columbia most of the time we were in college) we never got together and had that beer we always said we would get. In fact, once he moved back, the only time we actually saw each other and spoke to each other was at the wedding of another old friend three years ago, and neither of us went to the reception. This blog is not about him, directly.
Naturally, as soon as the immediate shock of my friend’s death passed, I fell back to the old memories. The first thing I thought about, I’ve already mentioned. It’s those late night chats while I was living in Columbia and Steve was in San Francisco. We’d mostly talk about stupid crap, but Steve was always saying how I just needed to finish college, just to get that piece of paper no matter how bullshit I thought that diploma was. He’d always tell it to me straight, even if I was attempting to make a bad decision. Generally, he didn’t sugarcoat anything, but you could always tell by the way he told you that you were fucking up that he cared.
I called another old friend mine that I haven’t talked to in way too long, to tell him of the bad news. We talked for a bit and he said the one thing he’ll always remember about Steve was a night we went to the Science Center here in St. Louis for a laser show or something to that effect. After the show, it was decided to go to McDonald’s or somewhere else for food. Nobody but Steve really knew where they were going and everyone was in one of a few different cars. Steve after figuring out nobody knew where to go pulled over on the side of the highway and waited for Jon who was falling behind and then waved him ahead towards their destination. Yeah, Jon admitted it sounds corny, but said he always put Steve on a higher pedestal after that night because istead of letting him get lost downtown, Steve stopped and waited for him.
These were the first things Jon and I thought of when we remembered Steve. Jon wasn’t as close to Steve as I was back in the day, but it doesn’t matter, we all spent considerable amounts of time together. Despite all the time and memories, the first thing we remembered were acts of kindness, not all the beer we drank or trouble we got in, etc. I mention this for a reason. What will people remember about you when you die? Naturally, certain people will always say only the nicest things about you, whether true or not, “He/she was the nicest/smartest/kindest/most helpful/prettiest whatever”. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a funeral (I haven’t been to many) or heard of a funeral where anyone said, “well this guy was kind of a prick and the world might be a better place now that he’s gone.” But what mark have you left on the world or on anybody for that matter? I’m not saying that you haven’t or you won’t, I’m just asking.
When my grandpa passed away, my grandma was afraid nobody would show up to the funeral. Needless to say, my grandpa was an amazing guy and there was a huge line at the funeral home. All these people I had either not met or don’t remember ever meeting were coming up to me and telling me about how gramps helped them out or showed some other kindness towards them.
When I think about the mark(s) I’ve made, I struggle a little bit. Obviously, you are always more critical about yourself, but I think about what I’ve done and what I should have or could have done. For instance, I have type O negative blood, I am the universal donor. I used to donate fairly regularly. There is no reason why I haven’t donated blood in the past 5 years. I’ve had friends that I could have given more of a helping hand to that I didn’t (sorry about the flat tire, Ash). I’ve had friends that I could have been more of a shoulder for them to lean on or an ear for them to talk to. There have been customers that I could have tried a little bit harder to help out. There have been students I could have been a little more patient with. I’m not trying to put all these woulda/coulda/shoulda things out there, I guess I’m more talking about the present and future, the “gonnas”. I’m gonna try to be a bit more supportive. I’m gonna try to be more patient. I’m gonna try to be the one you call when you need something. I’m gonna try to be an even better person so that when the time comes, there is no doubt.
So without looking at your past, what are you “gonna” do? What do you want people to remember you by? What mark will you leave on the general populace, not to mention those you surround yourself with?
Obviously, you don’t have to do anything. Live life as you see fit, these are just the ramblings of a sad dude. Just remember, you can’t control what people remember, but they’ll always remember you for something. Why not make it something special?
I’m a wanderer,
I have no place or time,
I’m just drifting on this lonely road of mine,
And if you would accept me for me,
Then I promise you that there’s a better man inside of me