My friend Dan Stephenson died in a car accident on February 4th in New Mexico on his way back home to Chicago from a visit in California.

Dan Stephenson

I think about Dan all the time and still can’t believe it. I’ve never lost someone close to me. I got the news from Erin while I was sitting in a meeting the next day. I didn’t answer the phone the first two times, but I knew there was bad news when she called a third time. When I answered the phone, Erin was sobbing and told me the news. I didn’t believe her. I could hear the words she was saying, and feel the pain in her voice, but I wasn’t mentally ready to accept what she was saying. I was numb for the rest of the day…everything seemed completely meaningless. I wasn’t ready to accept it until the next night. Erin and I were sitting at our kitchen table talking, and I broke down.

The weird thing about the phone call was that I had been thinking about Dan that morning. I was driving to work on Lake Shore Drive, looking out upon the lake and thinking about all of the times that Dan and I swam in Lake Michigan together with our two dogs. Thinking of those memories made me happy, and I made a mental note to call Dan later in the evening to figure out when he was coming home from California.

Since I heard the news, Dan has been in my thoughts every day. I wonder why he’s gone. I wonder what his last thoughts were. I think about the time that we got into a fight over simple bit of miscommunication (and it was all my fault). We didn’t talk for months…and man, what a couple of jerks we were to each other. I think about all of the great food he introduced us to. I think about the first day we met and how I instantly knew we’d be friends for life. I think about the last conversation we had – Dan was leaving for California the next day and the last words he said to me were “I’ll see you in February J-bone”.

It’s just funny how things happen…how life moves so quickly. I just want to be honest with myself, and give everything I have to the people that I care about. To my friends and family, you have my unequivocal love and respect. I’m here for you when you need me.