It never gets any easier to accept, nor any easier to come to terms with, but a year on from his death Steven Samuels is still very much alive and well in the hearts of everybody he touched.
It was always the same with Steve, and he did it better than anybody else with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, you didn’t quite know what it was, but you knew the guy was something special, and somebody to look up to.
In my mind, he is the greatest, bravest, and strongest person I have ever met with a condition like that. Nobody compares quite like him.
It didn’t dawn on me fully until he passed away, but god I looked up to Steven, and sitting up on the hill at his graveside this weekend during the unveiling was a very powerful experience. I didn’t know wether to be happy, to cry, to find closure, or to think about all the memories Steven gave me. I didn’t think about a whole lot to be honest, all I could really think was “oh that is a cool tombstone”.
Then I thought about my friend, and as so happens when I think about Steve, I always end up thinking about my own life shortly after.
I honestly don’t know exactly how I felt up there, it was the same feeling that I had during his funeral last year, a complete unknown but still, something extremely powerful, extremely sad, but oh so inspiring at the same time.
I know that sounds so bad. But it is entirely possible that Steven was just as inspiring in his passing as he was in life.
It wasn’t so much his death, it was what Steven’s attitude was in the weeks and months prior to it. The patience was one of the sides to Steven that inspired me the most when I think about it. From what I have heard and what I’ve been told, as the frustration at the lack of contact from NZCare management and others surrounding the house build grew, the patience never ceased.
Here he was, getting sicker and sicker almost by the day, and yet it wasn’t until the very end that he got tired of waiting.
It was almost as if he said “to hell with this… I’ve waited enough”, and then he was gone. He went to sleep and never woke up, it happened that quickly, and I certainly didn’t see it coming, and was shocked when I heard the news on that Tuesday morning.
I don’t know what was going through Steve’s heart and mind in those final hours, but I really hope he could still envision what the house and the life in Hamilton was going to be, I hope he never ever stopped seeing that. Because I never did.
So here we are, a year on, and like I mentioned earlier it never really gets any easier.
I think about him quite a lot, probably too much if truth be told, and although he isn’t here anymore, he lives on in his family. The Samuels family, Phil and his wife Leanne, the beautiful Jess, and the three brothers are five of the strongest people I’ve ever met in my lifetime. I am so impressed with how they have just taken the ball and ran with it this past year, and I am sure there have been some very difficult times for them, but to see how they were doing on Steve’s one year anniversary was one of the most inspirational things I’ve ever experienced.
I feel stronger just by being in their presence, and it’s in their presence that you really feel Steven.
On a personal note, I promised myself that this house and this new life in Hamilton would be a success. So far it has been, there have been a few rough patches, but so much has happened in the last six months, so much good, and so much that I know Steve would have loved to be a part of.
In some ways, I do a lot of the things I do today not just for me, but for him too. I know that sounds a bit cliche or corny, but it is probably the truest thing I could ever come on here and write. I feel a real sense of obligation to take advantage of every opportunity that I sense he would have done the same in, so that’s what I do.
I am not going to lie, I still feel a little angry towards certain upper managements at NZCare, because Steve could have been here and could have done all this too, if certain things had have been done properly a couple of years ago and some had have been a little better at their jobs, and had done what they were paid for, and were promising to do.
He was getting sicker and sicker as I mentioned, but at least he would have had a shot at it, no matter how short a time period he would have had here, he would have soaked it all up and done some great things in the process.
Time is precious in any walk of life, but in Steven’s it was more so, and deep down I think he knew it, even if he didn’t say it out loud.
I miss my friend, but I am happy he isn’t suffering anymore. The pain he was in those last couple of weeks I cannot imagine, and even though we that are still here all miss him terribly, and to a certain extent wish he was still here and still fighting that battle just so we could be around him, we should be comfortable, or at least try to be somewhat at ease in the knowledge that up in heaven he is probably undergoing an even greater challenge, one that he is probably just as, if not more inspirational in up there as he was down here.
I love you Steven. Forever and always. Rest in peace old friend.