This week saw the untimely passing of two men named Stephen. Both men were the same age as I am. Let me tell you a little about them.
Stephen Daylor and I both graduated from Toll Gate High School in 1976. We didn’t share the same circle of friends, and, if I had run into him during the past 35 years around Warwick or North Kingstown or East Greenwich, I likely wouldn’t have recognized him, nor him I. His parents are both still living, so they will bury their son this Thanksgiving weekend. No parent should have to bury a child. Stephen Daylor had purchased a ticket for this weekend’s high school reunion, our 35th. He’d have caught up with old friends, and laughed with some new ones. He leaves his wife and his twin daughters.
Stephen wasn’t the first of our graduating class to pass away. We’ve lost others, some many years ago, when we were still so young that the death of a classmate caused great sadness, but rarely a reflection on our own mortality. We were just too young for that. We’re not that young anymore. Stephen died unexpectedly: he wasn’t sick.
Stephen Giannini was sick. For the past couple of years, Stephen had been fighting, and I mean fighting, terminal lung cancer. He was a non-smoker, but we understand that non-smokers can get lung cancer, too. Steve Giannini was a gentleman, always. I worked with him for about ten years, although we performed different jobs, but I saw him frequently at the office, and never once did I hear him curse, lose his patience, or talk behind someone’s back. His friends told me that when he got sick, he battled back, the best he could, and showed up to work every day at the Navigant Credit Union, until he couldn’t go anymore. And 35 years away from high school, at age 53, now we lose one of our peers and think a lot about our own short lives. It should remind each of us to treasure the time we have with family and friends.
Both Stephens will be laid to rest on Saturday, far too soon. Rest in eternal peace, friends.