Saturday, August 22, 2015
I have tried to write this blog for over a week.
I have had the family's permission for days
and still, I just can't seem to find the words,
the words to say what is in my heart when I think
of sweet Stephen and his family's loss.
Last night while saying my prayers I realize
it is because there are no words good enough
to explain this child, this family.
So today, I go on a limb and write.
I will not think I will just type and pray my words
will do justice to the one we all know and love
as STEPHEN DUET.
The loss of a young one is never easy.
It being one you watched grow up and
stayed close to he and his family make it harder.
I can only attribute it to being like when we
lost our dear Robert at the age of 21
to meningitis. MY heart hurt so much for
both of these deaths, felt like I was burying my own child
and yet I know that for as hard as it was for me,
it was 20 times more painful for his parents, sister,
brother in law, more than a girlfriend, grandparents
and the slew of cousins and family who adored
Stephen. Out of their whole family who I lived
next to for 10 years as Stephen grew up,
I was the closest and remain close to his sister, Katie.
We call her Katie the neighbor in my family as
she helped us so much when Mom was at
St. Joseph Manor.
This girl, Katie, adored her little brother and
in texting with her this week she says
they are trying to begin to live their lives
without their Stephen but it is hard...
I think of his parents but mostly his Momma lately.
I just don't see anything natural in a parent burying
their child. Donna, his momma was so overprotective and
we all teased her on how Stephen was a Momma's boy.
I can't even begin to know how she feels.
Warren, their father, as usual, at the funeral
was saying things to comfort us all.
As he hugged me tightly as I spilled tears on
his lapel he says,
"Only thing I would do different had I known we would
loose him would have been to spend more time with him"
To those of us who knew the dynamics of this family,
that sentence woulds seem absurbed.
Warren and Donna are those parents who do everything
with their children. It was nothing to watch Warren
playing basketball with Stephen daily.
No father or mother I know did more for the
betterment of their family.
I am so proud to call them friends.
Now to try and explain our Stephen.
When we moved to Lee Drive,
he was a cute, shy, small 9 year old.
He talked very little and my gypsy baby took this
as a way to tease him to no end. She bribed a picture
of him from his sister and placed it on her wall
and told him she kissed and looked at it daily
and was his girlfriend and one day they would marry.
this poor pre teen boy was driven crazy by my children
yet he just smiled. Can you imagine the year
he had to ride to EDW with gypsy and her
friends in the morning.
Hurricane Katrina really brought us closer as
they spent two nights with us in our living room
where we had a generator and an air conditioner.
It was such a wonderful time for Lee Drive.
That sounds crazy with all the tragedy Katrina brought with
it, but it also had some good to it. Our neighborhood
had no electricity for 10 days and most of us could
not go to work so we would cook and eat together,
and at night, the Duet's spent the night with us.
We talked and laughed so much until all of us
would finally fall asleep. The night the electricity came back on,
we were settling for the night, it was about 10 pm
when we saw the streetlight come on, we all went
out to celebrate but I know in some ways we were all
a little sad, our gatherings would end and it did,
but the closeness we shared did not end.
Katie and I started scrapping, crafting together,
we were close and remain that way.
What happened with Stephen over the last few years?
He went from the cute shy little blonde boy
to a man, a man with the best sense of humor
who adored his family as much as they all did him.
Through the last few years, with Katie and Brent
getting engaged then married, then pregnancy and
the birth of sweet Addie Mae, I saw lots of all of them
as well as Stephen. Such a handsome boy.
When their grandmother, Warren's mom passed away,
I was fortunate to meet sweet Camille, Stephen's girlfriend.
I was amazed, she was beautiful and there was no doubt
in my heart that these two were together till the end.
I just never believed the end would be so soon.
Each time, during the funeral when Father would say,
Stephen's girlfriend, I felt like standing and screaming,
"She was more than a girlfriend"
All of us knew Steve-O had found the love of his life.
Gypsy still teased him when she had the opportunity
but it didn't bother him anymore, he loved it actually.
He was a Momma's boy and proud of it.
But he was not just a Momma's boy,
he was a Daddy's boy, a sisters boy,
a best friend to his brother in law, Brent and
the love of Camille's life.
Not to mention, his sweet Addie Mae,
who he is godfather to. During the eulogy,
a cousin, somehow, was able to get up there and
read tributes from Camille, Katie and his parents.
In each letter, they spoke of how much he loved
this baby of Katie and Brent.
Camille said it best when she shared how Stephen told
her he could not believe how something so little could
steal his heart and love and how he could
not wait until she was older to watch his favorite
movie, THE LION KING together.
Stephen had just finished college and belonged
to the same fraternity his bro in law was in, SAE.
Katie and Brent were very active as all their best friends
were in this group when they were in college so it was
a happy day for all of them when Stephen pledged into
the same Frat.
Katie will tell you, it is in this group that this child
grew into a man. Unlike most fraternities, SAE,
from the little I know of it, is not about partying so
much as it is doing for others, paying it forward.
No one at Stephens funeral could not be touched
by this over 100 young men gathered in this church
to say goodbye to one of their own, a fallen brother.
Their motto was read during the eulogy from Katie's letter
with the stand out word being "gentlemen"
That they were. Each one of these young adults along
with their girlfriends, fiance's, wives, spoke to this grieving
family. I am sure each one of them had a story to tell of
their Stephen. They filled the church of St. Genevieve to capacity
along with all of us others who loved him dearly.
You see this fraternity does not end when you graduate
from college, they are brothers forever.
It was the most inspiring thing I have ever witnessed at
a funeral. It gave me hope for the future.
I want to say a few words about my Katie the neighbor.
When I say she and I were close is an understatement.
Many years between us, I could have been her mother
but we are friends, bonded forever by the years we
were neighbors and the long nights we scrapped together.
We scrapped and talked, a lot.
When we moved to Plaquemine, it is Katie who followed
Ron and I to our new home to help us clean
and move. Since then she has spent many days with me,
she is an exceptional girl who always kept our
neighborhood up to date on what was going on.
She is a girl like no other.
On her wedding day, with all she had to do,
she was so saddened that her paternal grandmother,
who was over 90 and bedridden by this time would not
make her wedding that she went to the nursing home and
spent hours with her grandmother before starting her
day. I know of very few women such as this.
I watched my sweet Katie and the funeral of her brother,
hold herself together, strong like her Daddy and
I knew she was breaking inside. She was so close to her
little brother, overprotective of him just as her mother was.
I realized that day that she may be the picture of her
mother at that age, but she has the strength of
her father as she comforted others on the worst day
of her life. I adore this child almost as my own.
Stephen is gone, ahead of his family to the place we
all like to call Heaven. His godchild, our Addie Mae,
will never know him the way we all did but I have no
doubt that family will forever talk to her about
her godfather to the point that she will believe she
knew him well. I have heard there is no sense of
time in Heaven, so what seems like an eternity of loss
to us, to go on without our "Scooter Steve" as my kids
called him, he will not long for us as we for him.
He has gone ahead to make the way for his family.
It makes me want, more than ever to get back to
the closeness I once had with my God.
I have been lax in my faith since my separation.
Stephen's death has me wanting that back,
and I will get it, because I want to be a part of this
childs eternity. So, even though this may not be enough,
may not be fitting enough for what the Duet's lost
that day Stephen went ahead, I hope they gain some
comfort from my words knowing they are so loved
not only by me, but many people as was seen in that
church that was standing room only.
Let me say, as hard as that day was for them, for all
of us, their pain has just begun as they try and
move on living a life minus one, the one
who kept them laughing. Our lives will be easier
to move on, so let us all remember them all in prayer
and thoughts. Send a card, speak of Stephen when you
see them. Often we believe that it is easier for the families
if we not bring up their loved ones names but in
reality it gives them comfort. I am sure they
do not want Stephen to be forgotten.
They have empty rooms in their homes where his
prescence is still felt although he no longer is there.
Memories and momento's of him that will be
found on a day just when they think they are
a little better. Time does help some but just
like the waves of tides, it will slow down and
they will feel like it is better then something will
come up, a birthday, a holiday or maybe just a card
he sent to one of them, and the waves will rush over
them once again bringing back their loss just as the
first day they left them. Pray and think of his
"more than a girlfriend" Camille as I just know
she and he talked of marriage often.
I know her plans were to marry and love this
young man eventually. She will eventually move on,
in time, but a piece of her heart will forever belong to
Stephen. I will end this with two thoughts,
remember these are the harder times for them all,
make it known to them that we have not forgotten
their loss and their pain. Send a card, call them,
send them a meal. Last but definitely not least,
lets all gain comfort from the part of the eulogy read,
written by sweet Camille:
She spoke of how Stephen hated to see her sad,
stressed or cry so in those times of need he would have her
"I AM CAMILLE AND I AM STRONG"
He would have her say it over and over until it
sounded strong enough for him and until
she believed it to be true.
So I say to all of us who love Steve-o and his
"....AND WE ARE STRONG"
As Katie the neighbor sent me in a text the other day,
We are all going to try and go back to work/school today
as Stephen would want it that way.
So should we all try and move on but pray not for
Stephen because there is no doubt where he is
but for all of us who love our
Stephen and HIS Camille
Katie the neighbor, my dear friend, at her engagement party.
The Duet family at Baby boy and Kd's wedding..
Stephen sitting with thumbs up, reminding us
all, we gunna be A-ok, in time...