I've been trying to think about what to write in this post, which I intended to be up on or around June 12. It's June 25th now, and so it's getting written. I'll be damned if I'm going to fall two weeks behind on this.
In a few weeks (five and one half, to be a bit more precise), twenty-three years will have passed since I was born. Eleven days after that, on August 14th, I will have lived a longer amount of time than a friend of mine. Since his death, over one year has gone by (one year and thirteen days as i write this) and I still find myself thinking about his life on the train ride home on occasion. For some reason, one year after attending his funeral and being one of the last standing at his gravesite as he was brought to where he is at this moment, I cannot quite comprehend the fact that he's not working as a cook at the Creighton Hotel restaurant or with Burlington Coat Factories (which was the last job I know of that he had). Somehow, it doesn't seem real that I will never again run into him at Sheetz late at night. That's probably helped by the fact that Sheetz doesn't exist in Chicago, and I'm not near things that remind me of him, but it still just doesn't sound like something which could be true. I hadn't talked to him for a long time before his death, and so I would expect that it shouldn't really come as a shock, or as something which would confuse me, but there it is. It is perhaps because of the very unique place that he held in my life that I'm still, one year later, thinking about him on the train. Perhaps it's merely because he was someone who I knew, who was my age, and who passed away much too young.
When I was in early high-school, I wasn't one much for that whole actually talking to people thing. Let's call me shy. That appeared to honestly bother Ed. That's the only reason I can think of that he made somewhat of a project out of getting me to commit to signing up for the Drama class and joining the high school musicals. Relentless. His determination to get me to speak out rather than staying put quietly was, I feel, incredibly important to the 9th grade me. He made me listen to CD's that I still play today, and embodied, to a certain extent for at least the time I knew him, a Hunter S. Thompson colored attitude toward living. He lived fast and recklessly, at many times putting those around him in moderate peril (which was hard to come by in Russellton), but never severe, never too much that things would cease to be fun.
I don't know what kind of problems presented themselves in his life. I know very little about what happened back at home after I left for the metropolis of Meadville, and while I occasionally would find him, distance made it hard for me to interact with anyone back home (which has only gotten worse since I've moved out of the state entirely). I don't know what it was that killed him. I've heard rumors, but I won't go into them here. What I know is that my friend is gone, and what remains is an entry on the Let's Go Bowling guestbook, his headstone under a large shady tree in Lakewood Memorial Gardens, and the memories of the hundreds that knew him. I only regret that I did not keep in touch with him, or did not encourage him enough to come to Allegheny when he suggested it (though I don't know that I could see him conforming to that).
And so, once again, a little more than a year after my first post on the subject, I'll once again say that you're missed, E-Bone.
For Edward F. Stecz 1982-2005