The world is still reacting to the deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson – who both passed away yesterday. And, that should continue for a while. Remember how long the media played with the passing of Anna Nicole Smith?
Me? I’m not really thinking about them – as, yesterday, I found out about another person passing away, suddenly, and it’s hitting me harder than the news of Jackson and Fawcett.
In January of 1973, when I was 13-years old, my family moved to a new neighborhood. As such, I had to make a whole new set of friends. Actually, I got lucky – as there were at least 20 kids close by who were around my age. And, it was a good place to grow up since there was usually always something going on, etc.
One of the kids that I met, soon after moving there was a guy named Steve Zeluff. As it turned out, besides being the same age, and having the same first name, he and I had another connection. He was related to someone who was related to a close friend of my mother – or something like that. It was funny – but not all that uncommon. Back then, as young adults starting families, people didn’t really move far from where they grew up…so it was very possible to meet someone and then find out that their mother and/or father knew your mother, father, uncle, aunt, etc. when they were kids.
Steve didn’t live too far from me. Make a left at the corner, make a right at the next corner, and there was his house. Our homes were probably no more than 750 feet apart or so. We were not the best of friends. But, at times, I hung out at his house. To this day, I remember that he had a huge St. Bernard. Without question, when we would run into each other, we would say hello or “What’s up?” and shoot the poop.
After High School, everyone in the neighborhood sort of went their own ways – for the most part – sans a few pockets of friends that still hung out together. And, I lost track of Steve. If I had to guess, I would say that it’s been at least 25 years since I last saw him.
Well, yesterday afternoon, I found out that Steve passed away, suddenly, Tuesday night – suffering a heart attack while playing softball.
Reading his obit, I see that we continued to have a lot in common besides our first name, being born around the same time, and living close to each other as teenagers.
Turns out, Steve got married 16 years ago. And, I’ve been married for 16 years (and it will be 17 in a few months). Steve moved to New Jersey nine years ago. And, I moved to New Jersey 9 1/2 years ago. Steve had two kids – a son and a daughter. And, I have two kids – a son and a daughter.
In many, many, ways, Steve and I were on the same path – even though I had no idea of it. And, now, he’s gone. Sadly, he never saw it coming.
I’ve heard the expression “Every time you leave the house, you never know if you’re going to come home again.” And, today, that’s ringing more and more true. You never know…and something that you take for granted just may be the last thing you ever do. And, the last time that you saw someone just may be the last time that you’ll ever see them again.
You probably won’t hear much about that when people are talking about Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson today, tomorrow, and the days that follow. And, that’s a shame. Because, more than anything else, that’s something that an expected death should remind of us: That we should treat each day as the gift that it is…because tomorrow is not a lock for anyone.