I was friends with his older brother -- he was entering seventh grade when I went off to college, and I don't think I've seen him since. But small town connections run deep, especially when his mom was your favorite teacher in high school. When I stopped in to visit her last summer, and to introduce her to Kathy, she filled me in on what was going on with all her children, including Steve, married to a wonderful woman with a small child. All I could remember of him is that he seemed like a good kid, but too young for me to know the man he would become.
So I don't know the man who, two weeks ago, lost his wife, five months pregnant with what would have been their second child, in a car accident. There's nothing I can say to him, no connection to build on, to reach out and offer my support. All I can do is feel sad for someone I don't really know.
I called his brother over the weekend, and he tells me that he's grateful Steve has a child, because it gives him a focus.
A lot of the time these days I can't help but think of the absence of children in our lives, but trying to imagine the absence of Kathy from my life, damn that's hard! I try to contemplate what that would mean but my thought process short-circuits -- I cannot will myself to imagine it. My mind changes the subject, anything to avoid thinking about such a thing. But he cannot change the subject -- that's what he's going through.