Steven was only 28 years old when he overdosed on heroin. I can't even believe I just wrote that. When we were teenagers and in our early twenties, a group of us hung out and partied together all the time. We were all potheads and beer drinkers, and occasionally, some of us would try heavier stuff. Then there were the people that did the heavier stuff regularly, and Steven was definitely in that category. But that wasn't a big deal to anyone. We all knew how he was. Steven knew more about drugs and had done way more drugs than the rest of us. When I was 15 he was smoking things I'd never heard of. Not until after he died did I finally asked what "caps" were -- I was shocked to find out it was crack. But back when Steve was smoking it right next to me, I didn't care what it was, because I was too stupid to care and because that was just how Steven was. He was always trying something new, even if he had to do it alone. None of us cared; we were all too young and careless, and I guess we somehow thought he'd grow out of it. But basically, we loved Steven no matter what he was using. If only I would've told him just that when I found out he was addicted to heroin. After I was told, he was too ashamed to face me. I didn't know how to handle it. At first, I understood why he didn't want to come around, and I just left it alone and thought I should mind my own business. (Mostly because I didn't know if I could keep from freaking out on him if I did see him -- how self-righteous, judgmental, cold-hearted, wrong and just plain stupid is that? And I always thought I was such a good person.) Then after months of soul-searching and praying and growing and more praying, I realized, "That's my friend; that's my Steven; I love him no matter what; I want to see him no matter what; of course I can see him and not be confrontational. Of course I would welcome him and all he was carrying with open arms!" No wonder he didn't feel comfortable coming around; I did nothing to make him feel otherwise! My next stupid mistake was leaving it up to a third party to mention these types of things to Steve. The next time they saw him...or the next time it came up...or the next time, whatever, I should have picked up the phone and called him myself! Why didn't I go straight to his house?! I SHOULD'VE DONE MORE THAN JUST WELCOME HIM AND HIS BURDEN, I SHOULD'VE HELPED HIM CARRY IT. I should have showed him love and support. And, yes, I would still be terribly sad and missing him right now, but boy do I regret that I hadn't seen Steven in 10 months prior to his death. I regret that I wasn't there for him and that I didn't spend every second I could spare with him. Right now, I could have so many more memories of him and so many more things to smile about when I think of him. And I blew it. The years that came and went had put some distance between us, but I never for a second stopped caring about him. How sorry I am now that I didn't tell my buddy Steven how much I adored him. It may not have saved his life or even cured him of his addiction, but here I am now grieving, wishing, regretting...too many emotions to identify. We had such a loving friendship, and we both knew it, yet I never actually told him how much he meant to me. I wish I'd made an effort to reach out to him during the past couple of years, especially those times when he was struggling the most. I wish I had been there for my friend, to help him, to encourage him, to listen to him, to cry with him if he needed to, and especially to laugh with him. I would give anything to have him back, even if for only one day, just so I could pour my heart out to him and tell him just how special he was and always will be to me. What a hard lesson to learn. You put off calling someone and telling them how much you love them and care about them because you take for granted that you'll always have another day to do it. But it's too late now. He's gone, and the helplessness I feel about it is beyond words. I pray this day that I never let something as important as loving someone, not just in my heart but in my actions, slip through my fingers again...something as simple as a phone call or a 10 minute ride to someone's house. Somehow this memorial has turned into or at least sounds like a "guilt thing". Honestly, when I started writing this, I wasn't feeling guilty; I was just really sad. I was just feeling really empty. I was just really missing my Steven.
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