On this Memorial Day weekend, we remember Steven and his valiant fight against cancer and infection. What an amazing kid. I thought the best tributes to share with you would be those written by his mom, all of which follow for you here. They will take you from his final week and beyond, and into healing in the form of a great new dog named Bubba. The healing part doesn’t come easy … it is with baby steps that parents try to move forward after the loss of a child. I am heartbroken for them, wishing there was something we could do to help, knowing it will just take time to get through.
I remember when my friend Doug, lost his little girl suddenly to a condition known as ITP, where the spleen attacks the blood. Another classmate of mine from high school, Charise, had also lost a child and told him his daughter “will be the angel that watches over you now from a much better place.” She said it’s hard to think of God’s reasoning sometimes, but believes He must have an important plan in place for them. She told him nothing can take away the pain of losing a child, letting him know they still miss their son every day. She also said they take comfort in knowing God may hold him in His hands, but that they will always hold him in their hearts.
And there is where Steven will always be: in all of our hearts.
HIS JOURNEY’S END
For those of you who haven’t seen this loving account of Steven’s final week, I want to share what his mom, Denise, had written about it after his passing:
“Steven told me on Monday, May 17 that he was tired. I asked him if he was ready to give up and he said yes. I asked him if he was ready to go to heaven now and again he said yes. Tears started streaming down both of our faces and I told him I was too selfish to let him go. I told him that he had beaten the candida infection and begged him to fight just a little longer for his dad and me. He finally nodded ‘okay’.
The next day, Steven again told me ‘I just want to die’…and again I begged him to keep fighting. On Wednesday I could see that the Sepsis infection was taking over, Steven had lost the fight to live. On Thursday the doctor told us Steven’s liver was shutting down. We couldn’t get ahead of the sepsis infection or the DIC. The doctors asked us if we wanted to revive him if his heart should stop. Steven had already given us his answer earlier in the week so we told the doctor that we would let him go peacefully.
Up until the bitter-sweet end, Steve and I held out hope that the antibiotics would kick in and save his life. When Steven’s heart stopped at 4:43am on May 21, 2010, he was surrounded by his dad, his brother Rocky, his sister Whitney and me, his mom. We took off his bipap breathing mask and saw a smile on our beloved son’s face. I have no doubt he saw Jesus take him by the hand. That image will live forever in my mind. His eyes were fixed and happy and his beautiful red lips and white teeth were smiling at us. I kissed him one last time.
Steven was a miracle. Please know that the cancer was gone, it was the sepsis infection and DIC that took him away from us. He is finally free from that hospital bed and for the first time in months, I don’t have to worry if he’s in pain.
Thank you all for praying, we had 10 more weeks than we thought we’d have with him and it meant the world to his dad and me.”
A MOTHER’S PRAYER
I also wanted to share with you her plea for reassurance that Steven was indeed okay that was answered in a most interesting way … A heartwarming story of signs that are given when asked. This story was shared with everyone at Steven’s services. FYI – You might need a tissue after this one!
“Today as I sat with Steven I cried. I cried so hard I thought my insides would burst. I prayed for a sign. Please God, give me a sign that you have Steven with you and everything is okay. It’s not fair! You gave Mary a sign three days after Jesus died…where’s my sign? You took my son too, and it’s been three days…where’s my sign? Please tell me my son is okay and he’s with you!
I prayed that prayer and asked that question over and over. After pacing or sitting there with Steven for 3 hours I decided to leave and go down the street to my mom’s house to eat some spaghetti she’d prepared. My sister Dena was there and handed me a sealed envelope. Attached to the front of the envelope was a note from one of Steven’s teachers.
‘To Steven’s family,
One of Steven’s assignments in 7th grade was to write a letter to himself that he would receive when he was a senior. The letter has been locked in the vault since the day he wrote it and, as promised, nobody has read it. I pray that it brings you comfort and joy.’
I trembled as I held the letter, feeling sick to my stomach about what the letter would say. I called Steve. We decided to meet back at the funeral home and open it there with Steven. My hands were shaking as I opened the sealed envelope and started reading this letter dated May 18, 2006. His dad and I decided to keep the contents of the letter private but we wanted to share the ending. The letter had us laughing out loud until we got to the very end and it brought me to my knees… his last sentence read…
‘Live and have a good life and try to live as long as you can.’
And that’s just what he did. He lived a good life and he tried to live as long as he could. Up until the very end … until he was too tired to lift a finger or take a breath, Steven tried to live as long as he could.
Thank you God for answering my prayer. I received a letter from my son today that I didn’t know existed. That was my sign. He does hear a mother’s prayer and he gave me my reassurance that I’d asked for. I can go to bed tonight knowing Steven is fine. I get one last day to sit with him and then I can let him go.”
A BUBBA FOR THE FAMILY
This touching account of the new family pet was shared by Denise this weekend:
“The twins are having a really hard time adjusting to Steven’s passing, especially Jaxie. The twins, who are now 7, have always begged for a puppy but I never had the time to deal with a dog. I was always too busy with my job to seriously consider getting the twins a pet. In fact, my 4 adult children were only allowed a dog or two growing up because I was too busy working and didn’t have time to deal with it. I also couldn’t bear the death of a pet. I went through several pets as a child and was devasted by each of their passings. I’m the type of person that lacks ‘coping with death skills’ therefore I’ve always avoided bonding with pets as an adult.
Steven taught me that the most important job I”ll ever have is to be a good mom. It’s my new focus. Maybe a dog would help our family heal. We decided to get a male dog and name him Bubba. The twins called Steven ‘Bubba Steven’ so maybe having a Bubba to love wouldn’t be a bad idea. On Thursday we started dog shopping. I warned the twins that we are ONLY LOOKING and that it would be a couple of weeks before I’d be ready to bring a pet home. Ha! Famous last words spoken before we entered the Humane Society.
In the top row, first cage was a silky haired dog with the cutest face. The twins were drawn to him like a magnet. they looked at the other dogs on display but always went right back to the first one. Jeff and Rock were hoping for the Cocker Spaniel in the end cage on the bottom row. But for some reason, the twins insisted our search for Bubba was standing in that first cage. I looked around at the other dogs and he was the only one with a red collar. He was also the only one that didn’t bark at us when we walked in. He was quiet, loving, and seemed to be smiling.
We decided to take him to an interaction room and shut the door. He couldn’t stop licking our faces. He snuggled up to me like he was home. I looked over at Jeff standing outside the observation glass door and, like a 7 yr old, I begged him with my eyes to let us take Bubba home. Our search was over.
We filled out the adoption papers. Immediately we were approved but we couldn’t pick up Bubba until the next morning because they had to place his microchip. We all were so excited. I never heard him bark the whole time we were there. We picked him up the next morning, signed the adoption papers and so begins our life with Bubba.
He’s 18 months old, looks Havanese in the face with a West End Terrier/ Wheat mix. He’s already house trained. We’ve had him home since Friday and I still haven’t heard him bark. The twins said he barked once when the doorbell rang.
As was Bubba Steven, Bubba never complains, he’s always smiling and is the most loveable dog I’ve ever met. He doesn’t let me leave his side. He must sense my grief. His favorite spot is resting his head on my heart. I watch him like a newborn baby. The twins are extremely excited, and so am I… the good mom.”
ORDER YOUR TEAM STEVEN ITEMS – PROCEEDS GO TO THE FAMILY
Below are the links to order your Team Steven items. Touched by Steven’s story, Team Steven member Amanda Kramer created all of these wonderful ways to promote our Team Steven network and support Steven during his fight and beyond. All commissions/proceeds from your purchases will go to the family. I am including the links on the sidebar as well. Additional information for donations to the family to help with medical expenses are also listed on the left side of our blog here as well.
Team Steven Items (clothing, mugs, water bottles, bags, hats, teddy bears, etc.):
Team Steven Commemorative Items (dog tags, necklaces, badge holders):
Once again, from the bottoms of our hearts, we thank you for your endless thoughts, prayers and support during Steven’s journey. Your words, cards and love all provided motivation for Steven to hang on a little longer, to continue to try to live as long as he could. They also provided much comfort for his family. We all appreciate it more than you know. Thank you for loving our boy. He was such a gift. Let his gift of appreciating life and believing in miracles continue to live on in you. Don’t ever take anything for granted. Fight for what you love. Love what you have. Live a good life and love others. That’s really what it’s all about.
Here is a copy of Steven’s obituary that was in the Bristow News: