Dan Stephenson, a close friend of mine, died in a car accident on February 4th in New Mexico on his way back to Chicago from a visit to California.

Dan Stephenson

I think about him all of the time and can’t believe it. I’ve never had someone close to me pass. When it happens it rips you up inside and creates all sorts of questions that will never be answered. I got the news from Erin while i was sitting in a meeting. I didn’t answer the phone the first two times that she called, but I knew something was up when she called a third time. When I answered the phone, she 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. Every little random thing that I do, he’ll pop into my head. 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…man, what a couple of jerks we were to each other. I think about all of the great food he introduced Erin and I 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.