Really, it's impossible to adequately celebrate someone who's meant the world to you since way before you knew what the world was. Twenty-five years.
High school. College. Grad school. Adulthood. Birth. Parenthood. Death. Albums. Tapes. CDs. Haircuts. Hair loss. Hair color. Bills. Cars. Groceries. Apartments. Secrets. Lies. Fists thrown. Money shared. Cold wars. Meltdowns. Love fests. Dancing. Singing. Crying. Drowning. Listening. Vowing. Running. Flying. Careening. Company. Parties. Jobs. Foodstamps. Men. Letters. Poems. Phone calls. Visits. Rites. Rituals. Routines. Cities. States. Distance. Closeness.
If anyone should ever write Steven's life story, I'd beg to include the following:
When I was young and fighting with my baby daddy, he kicked me out with nothing but a fine-toothed comb. Steven got his sister to agree to let me live with her in case I couldn't find my own place, took me to JC Penney and bought me panties on his charge card.
Even though he HATES being called Steve and will cut you if you even try it, when my mother called him Steve, he never once blinked.
One day he gave me a thousand dollars and he wasn't even rich.
He lives with grace, gusto and gratitude, never rolling over, when other men would.
If Steven loves you, there's no way you can not know it.
He comforted me through every corndog boyfriend I thought I couldn't live without.
He thought I was cute before I had the good sense to wax my eyebrows.
He got me my first job out of high school, at Pizza Hut, and when our boss wanted to fire me for averaging 20 minutes to wipe down a table, he gently broke the news that I'd better speed it up.
He believes beyond all reason that I can accomplish every dream I've ever had.
We looked for Schmin on Steven's birthday (he came four days later).
Steven can dance like you would not believe.
He remembers my mother with the same love and longing that I do.
He hitched me and the Bubba in wholly matrimony.
He taught me how to be a generous partner, so that the wholly matrimony might stick.
Steven is Schmin's Godfather.
Steven is Schmin's Godfather and he raised him as his own son.
When my asymmetrical department store haircut came out like a sideways mohawk and I went to him crying, he marched me back to the store and demanded my money back. Look at her, he said to the stylist and the manager, Does this look like a good haircut to you?
The kids at his first library job called him Mr. Stevens instead of Mr. Steven. That tickled us. It still does.
He laughed so hard at my Flori Roberts makeover that I couldn't cry about it.
He's the only person who's ever shared my mother.
Women shaped his world and he's not afraid to say it.
He went to more parent/teacher conferences than I ever did.
We lived together most of our adult lives and never ran out of things to talk about.
When we met in 9th grade science class, he had an afro befitting a prince.
He can draw.
He can sing.
We used to dodge the number 30 bus, the one the cool kids rode, to duck into St. Vincent dePaul's to get our wardrobe on.
My God. Steven was there when Schmin took his first steps. He held out his arms and Schmin fought his own legs to get to him. You'd better believe I love this man. You'd better believe it.
Happy 40th birthday, Steven. Your appearance on this earth, at this time, is evidence of grace.