No, this is not a description of his death, nor is it a description of our reactions. This is instead the true story of what he did, and what we did his last morning with us.
Although it was a Friday, there were some things that were out of the ordinary for us. Steve was usually off every-other Friday, so him being home from work wasn’t unusual. Annabel had school, leaving at 7:00 for Jazz Band practice. I had a one-hour virtual office hour, so I had to be available to student electronically, but then I was off for the rest of the day. Gideon was job searching, so he also had the day off. He and I had plans to go to Disneyland after my office hour, do the night shows, and then stay at a hotel and come home Saturday. Steve was traveling to Turlock to pick up his mom and take her to a doctor’s appointment in Sacramento. After he would travel home, and he and Bel would be going out for dinner together, her choice. This was not unusual for us to all be in different places for the day.
Steve had come home early the day before because he had a nasty cough. But there are no signs, thus far, to indicate that his cold was cause for the accident. Although the coroner’s report is not finalized, yet, the toxicology report came back negative for drugs, including cold medication. But I said I wasn’t going to talk about that, so I won’t.
Steve drove Annabel to Jazz Band practice at 7:00 am. I assume that they had their usual father/daughter banter, with an “I love you” and “I’ll be home around 5:30 and we’ll go out to dinner”.
I’m happy that Steve got to spend the day with his mother; they always had such a special bond. I know that bond because I have it with Gideon. It’s not an “I love you more than your siblings” bond. But there is something special that mother’s feel for that first child. That child is what turned them into mothers. For many, it is such a close-bonding relationship that just can’t be explained properly in writing. He had that with his mom.
I’m so glad that Lois and Steve spent time in the car talking. The ride between Turlock and Sacramento must have been filled with sharing stories and deep discussions. I’m also glad that they had lunch together. It is so nice to share a meal with someone. There’s a different kind of relationship building that happens when you eat together. The religious side of me is reminded of all the intimate meal sharing situation described in the Bible. It is not a coincidence that the last supper is key to the New Testament. Plus, just think of all the lessons taught by Jesus during meals. Amazing! So, for Steve and Lois to share a meal together on his last day, is so meaningful to me.
Before Gideon and I left the house, because we left before Steve did, there were the typical good-byes. I don’t remember exactly what Steve said to Gideon, but I’m sure it was something like, “Bye Son. Have a good time!” I haven’t asked Gid if he remembers, because it’s not my place to pry. Also, if Gideon hasn’t tied emotions to those last words, I don’t want my asking to make him feel like he should.
And then there’s “Our” last good-bye.
Because he had a cold with a nasty cough, I really didn’t want him driving all the way to Sacramento and back. But he had committed to taking his mom to her appointment, and once Steve committed to something, there was no stopping him from following through. I did, however, convenience him to take a 12-hour cough medicine. I also told him that maybe I should skip going to Disneyland with Gideon and just go with him instead. But, for those of you who don’t know, Steve was a bit of a penny pincer, and having already paid for the hotel and then skipping out was too much for him. He insisted we go forward with our plans. Nothing I could say would change his mind.
Gideon and I said good-bye to Steve, I kissed him, grabbed my bags, and then headed out to the car. After I put my bags in the car with Gideon’s, I realized that I left my keys in the house. So, I went back into the house. Steve made a questioning face with raised brows. I said, “Forgot my keys.” Then I kissed him again and we said another good-bye. Then out to the car I went. But after climbing into the seat I realized that I had forgotten my bottle of water. So back into the house I went. I said, “Forgot my water!” Then I kissed him, again, and said good-bye, again.
Then, out to the car I went. But as soon as I sat in the seat I realized that I left my phone in the house! So, back I went. He didn’t say anything, but just smiled with pursed “duck lips” and furrowed brows, the look I lovingly called his “dragon face”. I said, “We’re never gonna get outta here!” Then I walked over to the chair where he sat, kissed him for the fourth time, and said, “I love you, babe!” He kissed me back and said, “Drive Carefully. Love you too.”
That was it. The last four kisses.
We did talk briefly on the phone when Gid and I arrived at Disneyland. I called to tell him we made it safely. He told us to have a good day. Then he said, “Love you. Bye”.
And that was it.