The clean cups and paper plates are stacked together, the dirty ones bagged up in the trash, and the floor vacuumed. That’s all I’ll do for today because I’m tired of tasking and the weather is so nice I refuse to stay inside. So, I am sitting by the tent in the canopied yard, surrounded by a ring of green and six empty chairs, only five of which I own. Something always gets forgotten and left behind. I am processing last night’s wonderful, rain-free evening spent with twenty-five or so of our friends.
We remembered Craig Allen Steffen, as I threw out baseballs with his best traits written on them. Through stories, we collectively called to mind what was good about Craig – his generosity, his compassion, his strategic thinking, his spiritual and practical wisdom, his love, etc. – and his not-so-good occasional road rage.
We remembered, in unison, that Craig was faithful, capable, strong and solid. So fittingly, I unveiled this Rock, which will forever sit on our property. We dedicated it to him by raising a toast with some of his homemade wine.
For months leading up to the Remembrance, I kept trying to think of a tree to plant as a memorial to him. Nothing seemed to pop out as representing Craig. About three weeks before, I was having a quiet morning on the deck, running a list of trees and their characteristics through my head one more time. Suddenly these words barged in and interrupted my thoughts: “Craig is a Rock.” My eyes widened, and I think I may have said out loud, “That’s true!” He was certainly my rock; the one I counted on for wisdom and practical support. And he was certainly a rock for others, always being called up to help and get the job done. He was who you reached for in a crisis. Even the origin of his name is crag, which is a jutting rock.
We also honored him with poetry or just simple words from our hearts. I started the time of sharing by reading a poem by Jan Richardson, entitled The Blessing You Should Not Tell Me, from her book, The Cure for Sorrow. Part of it reads:
Greg Belliveau shared the poem When Great Trees Fall by Maya Angelou, which was very moving. And Adam Nyberg read a poem by a poet from his home country, Sweden, entitled, In Motion, about the journeys we are all on."Give me instead
of asking about him -
how we met
or what I loved most
about the life
we have shared;
ask for a story
or tell me one
because a story is, finally,
the only place on earth
he lives now."
When you host a gathering of people, often your mind is focused on the details – does the water jug need refilled, is the BBQ burning in the crockpot, are there enough chairs? I wish I could have spent longer time with each and every one there, sharing even more personal stories of Craig between us. But as the evening came to an end and we were sharing our good-byes, I heard other stories of meaningful connections; connections made between friends who didn’t know each other before last night; or re-connections that held tinges of nostalgia and healing. How beautiful. How Craig.
One friend said the gathering felt like a family reunion. It did. As someone who recently discovered he had multiple families, I think Craig would love that description of those who came together to honor him and his life.
Elizabeth & Adam Nyberg
Barb & Darlene
Dan & Kerry
Julie & Darlene
Greg & Meg
Greg & Rob
Kate & Andy
Keith & Rennes
Kerry Sharing a story of Craig
The week before the Remembrance, it rained everyday or was steamy and wet, so I was not able to create the "look" I wanted to unveil. A few days later, when the weather was cool and breezy, I went out to landscape the boulder. Five wagon loads of rock and two bags of mulch later (still need one more!), I was done. Craig loved to feed people, and he was an excellent cook. So, in the spring I will hang an Oriole feeder from the pole. In summer, a hummingbird feeder. And in winter, a suet feeder. My goal is to create a bigger rock garden containing rocks that friends would like to add, and one that has the quote inscribed on it from Craig's book:
We journey forward without fear...