I didn’t expect to be thinking about the death of my first best friend for a long time. To be completely honest, I thought he’d be writing a eulogy at my funeral instead since he was several years younger than me. Who thinks about things like this in their 20’s anyway?
Steffon and I grew up next door to each other in small houses with big back yards in Asheville, North Carolina. I remember having lots of friends at school when I was young, but never having too many play-dates. There was little need to have friends over with a brother, two sisters, and Steffon next door to play with. We spent most afternoons turning our backyards into imaginary worlds. I remember the ritual of looking out the window to see Steffon peeking in our dining room to see if we were done with dinner yet so we could play during the last couple hours of daylight.
Catching fire flies, pretending that plastic bags were parachutes and jumping off our swing-set, creating lines in the forest that NO ONE DARE CROSS! Bike rides, football (which he admittedly became much better than me at!), and the porch swing that somehow stayed in tact no matter how hard we swung.
I remember being jealous because his parents bought him a Fisher Price Power Wheel that he’d ride around the driveways and backyard. Being a few years older, I was too big for one and had to settle for a bicycle.
Fast forward a few years. My family moved and I switched elementary schools, leaving Steffon in charge of both backyards. A few years after that he’s in middle school and I’m across the street at the high school… we’re neighbors again. My last year of high school was his freshman year and I remember thinking, “Damn! Steffon’s all grown up! I wish I was that cool when I was a freshman.”
Everyone loved him. A talented musician, incredible athlete, and all around lovable guy. Steffon was the kid from his class who got along with everyone, could mingle with any group, and was cool with kids in every grade. Even though he was 24 when he passed away, I still think of him as a kid. This is the Steffon I know.
Rest in peace Steffon. We’ll meet again one day in another imaginary world of our own.
In loving memory of Steffon Montgomery. 12-1-1987 to 4-27-2012.
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