Thursday, March 13, 2008

This Arlington Morning - Part 4

Cats were an important enhancement in Stephen's life. Indeed, his family loved cats and invited many into their homes over the years. Steve enjoyed the friendship of several cats after his Air Force years, and his favorite -- Truman -- was the one depicted in these photos. In my naivety, I once asked Vivian if he was named after President Truman, but I should have known that this special feline acquired his label thanks to writer Truman Capote.

Curiosity, the driving force behind journalists and writers of every ilk, can be overwhelming. During the course of just a few months, I learned more about Steve's life than I could have imagined would be out there. Unquestionably a rarity amongst his contemporaries, his had been an existence of ups and downs. One of his closest friends and roommates, another military veteran who attended college with Steve, once told me that he felt like the narrator in The Great Gatsby, attempting from the sidelines to tell me about Steve's involvement with the rich, the famous and the near-famous. There were parties and thrills, with a little decadence thrown in for good measure. There were bad times, too, primarily the early college days when money was tight and Steve's stubborn demand for independence prohibited him from asking his family for assistance. And, at the end, there was AIDS. Its effects are obvious in a couple of Steve's photos that I choose not to display here, and I'm sure my readers will understand, but Steve appears very drained and tired in these pictures. Nevertheless, it wouldn't have been a stretch merely to assume he was weary after a bad cold or something.

So, on this chilly morning of March 10, 2008, Vivian and I spend some time at Steve's resting place at Arlington. Having visited many times over the years, she immediately notices the expansion of grave site areas, as the tragedies of a new war have meshed with those of the past. At least the storms have departed and a pleasantly sunny sky reflected in blue dilutes, somewhat, the moment's sadness. For his mother, there are tears and memories and echoes of questions unanswered. For me, there are personal memories and recollections of everything I learned about Steve's life via others. I'm not crying during this Arlington morning, however. I haven't really cried in years, not since I went temporarily bonkers in 2000 after learning of Steve's demise. Oh, actually there were two times after that, when two loving pets died. What to do? We get older and either shed tears over all manner of things or, as if in fear that our allotment of tears will expire, we save them for later. For another inevitable occasion.