The end of the world as we know it

For those who missed the news, Steve died, very suddenly, last night.  He had gone down to the basement where we’re accustomed to walk every day for a figure-8 mile or two, which was our Plan for Keeping Fit through the Maine winters.  He was, he said, going to finish up his daily laps.  I told him, as I often did, to “have a good walk!”  and he answered, cheerfully, as he often did, “I will have a good walk!”

Finishing up the laps should have taken about a half-hour, but I was writing and not keeping track of time, so it was close onto an hour when it occurred to me that I hadn’t heard him come upstairs, announcing to the house that he had achieved both heart-points and steps!

I walked back to his office, thinking he might’ve slipped past me, but he wasn’t there.  I went downstairs.

Steve was face down on the floor, and he wasn’t breathing.  I called 911, the operator walked me through getting him turned over and starting CPR, which I kept up until a policeman arrived, closely followed by EMTs, firefighters, and life-saving persons of all orders.  They labored for . . . I’m not quite sure, really.  A Long Time.  In the end, having hit him with everything they had, they just couldn’t get his heart to beat on its own.

After the EMTs left, I waited, in the company of the policeman and the City of Waterville’s chaplin.  I called my brother-in-law in Maryland to tell him the news, and asked him to call the rest of Steve’s family.  The policeman called Steve’s cardiologist, and got his agreement to sign off on the death certificate, which meant we didn’t have to wait another Long Time for the medical examiner.  After a slightly Less Long Time, the funeral people came and took Steve away.

And here we are.

I was “with” Steve Miller for 47 years, many years past half of my lifetime.  During our time together, he saved my life several times, taught me to write, provided me with adventures — some, to be sure, inadvertent — with cats, with enthusiasm, and courage.  He was proud of me; he liked taking care of me; and from the first he was unabashed and generous in his love.  He was an original thinker, and bouncing ideas around with him — whether we were trying to figure out dinner or the plot of the next novel — was a rare intoxication.

If I said he was a perfect angel, no one will be believe that — least of all me.  What he was, was a good person, who tried his best to be kind, who genuinely liked people, and had the gift of making lasting connections.

I want to go back to what I said up there, about Steve liking to “take care” of me.  The walking course in the basement?  Steve created that when I was recovering from cancer, and was gritting my teeth and pushing myself to walk in circles around the main floor of the house, trying to get my strength back.  The basement was cool and sheltered; I could sit down if my strength suddenly ran out — and he could keep an eye on me.  Ahem.  It was only one of the many gifts of, “Let me make this easier for you” that he gave me — and us — during our time together.

And yesterday’s event, as much as I wish it had never happened, was, in its way, one last gift of ease, if not comfort.  Steve had seen both of his parents go into  slow declines, ending in hospice care, and he had a horror of being in a similar situation.

As far as I can understand it, yesterday’s event was one quick bolt out of the blue after a perfectly usual day of writing, correspondence, plans for bringing a new cat into the house, and more plans of what he wanted to do — tomorrow.

I am not at all happy to have lost him, but I am happy that he was spared the decline he feared.

One more note:  People have been asking me How I’m Doing.  I’m trying to understand what happened.  I’m trying to gather up various paperworks, as one must. I have the passwords to both his computers, so that makes doing needed tasks much easier — again.  I’ve been sticking pretty close to my desk in my office, because that’s . . . usual.  Our days were Steve at his desk, me at mine, a chat-window open in the margin for random observation, news of interest, cat reports, and questions about what might be for supper.  So, sitting here at my desk is . . . a breathing space, when I can forget for a few minutes that he’s not sitting at his.

The chat-window, though, is dark.

Thanks to everyone who sent — who are sending! — condolences.  I can’t possible answer all of you individually.  Your love and support means a lot.



66 thoughts on “The end of the world as we know it”

  1. I’m so sorry to read this! I’ve never met either of you, but have so enjoyed your writings. I have tears falling because I know the heartache of grief and the brain fog of trying to get all the arrangements made. No words can truly help, but I’m praying for you as you process and grieve!

  2. I too had a good man who liked to “take care of me” and my heart breaks for you because I know precisely on what kind of quaking ground you are standing on right now. Steve was special. I am so sorry, Sharon.

  3. So sorry for your loss, but glad for Steve that he was spared the lingering pain that he feared.

  4. If only words could truly provide the comfort that I wish I could give. But there is no cure for this kind of pain, there is only knowing that many, many people care for you and will be holding you in their hearts. You are precious to us, and Steve is missed already.

  5. I just realized what I got on FB, and then found this. I called Susan Bound to tell her. We are both very sorry for your loss. It is a blessing that he went fast. So, good luck with the paperwork. Love from Susan Bound and Lee Dalzell.

  6. My heartfelt condolences!

    I’ve also found my husband dead, and it’s a hard change in one’s life.

  7. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    Both you and Steve have had a major impact on my life, and Steve will be greatly missed.

    -A long-time reader

  8. Thank you for the many hours of pleasure you have both given me. I hope you will be well at some time.

  9. I’m so sorry for your grievous loss, and am wishing you much patience and strength to get through all that needs to happen.
    Going suddenly like that, without a long and painful deterioration, seems the easiest way to die for the person it happens to; but it doesn’t give their loved ones much chance to adjust to the idea, prepare, and say goodbye before it happens. So for those left, everything gets piled into the grieving period afterwards, all at once; too much to bear, sometimes. Wishing you the courage to endure.

  10. Sharon,

    I’m so sorry to hear this. I’ve been reading your work since Agent of change, I was a friend of Steve’s on FB for at least 16 years. And felt a wave of relief every time he would post about another purge of his friends that I was still included.

    I was listening to Fledgling yesterday while at work and heard Steve’s interview with the narrator, I hadn’t seen the post about him being gone until this morning.

    This is the end of many things, love the cats and know we are all here for you.

  11. I lost my husband almost 5 years ago. At first you are numb, processing all the countless bits that have to be accomplished before you can move to the new emptiness you think will be ahead. After that you cry in the silence where nobody sees. It does get better. There are days that are filled with joy and work to fill the void. You slowly evolve into a new and independent person. Remember the good and bad times but do not let them be your whole being. Move on until He calls you .

  12. I am so sorry for your loss, and wish you strength and support in the days ahead. I lost my Dad this October, and the number of forms that must be filled out and submitted is truly phenomenal. I hope the cats are a comfort to you during this process.

  13. I am so sorry for your loss. The 2 of you brought such joy and interest into the lives of all of us who read your books and stories. Steve will be greatly missed by not only those who knew him, but those whose lives you 2 have touched through your writing. All of us will be wishing you comfort, strength and support in your grief, life and heart.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.