Three years ago today. Wow.
Three years ago today.
It’s so hard to fathom that over a thousand days have happened. Three times, we’ve rotated around the sun.
It took a while to accept that the world still continues after you die. But do you know what the beautiful thing is? You are still so loved. You are still remembered. I still get messages from people with beautiful memories they want to share of you. Those are like gold bars to me.
And I know there are even more out there who tell stories about their times with you on the road doing theatre tours, talking about the wild times you would have all over the world, remembering all they learned from your workshops. Remembering you and everything you gave this world.
You are remembered, Steven. On this third anniversary of your death, I want to share one of my favorite memories of you.
You Had Presence
You were giving a talk in a psychology class at University of Regina. There was probably about 40 or 50 people. I could tell they didn’t know what to make of you at first.
You were already starting to lose your mobility but you walked in with your cane, taking your shortened steps with such a big smile and an incredible, jovial spirit. It’s one of the things that drew people to you. You always had a slight air of impishness but your open heart and quickness to laugh along with your way with words were magnetic.
You got situated and looked out at the students with a smile and a satisfied sigh with no intention to start speaking yet. You always did this. You gave the silence in the room some time to build. It was a mischevious trick of yours that was so effective.
You took the students in and enjoyed the mixture of discomfort at the silence and curiosity about what was to come. Who was this man? Why was he here? Your silence trick made them take notice and built up their anticipation.
They knew you were there to discuss how performance and psychology were intertwined but that’s all they knew. They were expecting just another speaker. That’s not what they got that day.
You finally took in a breath and dived into your material with a casual but real enthusiasm. It might seem like those two don’t go together and usually, they don’t. But you somehow managed to pull it off.
Raul, the Shaman
Part of your talk was discussing the time you went to the desert for a month to meditate on a script you were offered about Jesus. You wanted to see what it would be like to be in the desert for 30 days alone.
It was a life-changing experience that taught you more about isolation and the performance of day-to-day living than anything else. When you got back into civilization, it was too much for you at first. You shrunk back and went to the ocean on a Mexican beach with no tourism.
There, you met a Shaman who didn’t speak any English. I cannot remember his name for the life of me. I wish I could. I think it started with an ‘R’ (edit: A past significant other in Steven’s life just reminded me his name was Raul). You learned how to communicate by using hand gestures and body language. Sometimes your knowledge of Latin helped too.
Despite the language barrier, you two became great friends and you stayed there for another month. He helped you build a hut and tried to show you not to build walls around the hut. You didn’t listen. You wanted walls. Your first night was a huge lesson in why you should always listen to locals.
Bugs were everywhere. Scorpions, sand beetles, all kinds of nasty critters. You ended up sleeping outside and when Raul saw you, he laughed knowingly.
You realized how beautiful it was to sleep outside by the water on the beach, so you didn’t mind. You used the hut to store your clothes and other things. You and Raul would sit around a fire on the beach every night as you drank and laughed through your makeshift way of communicating and sharing stories. You always talked about this time with such fondness.
One day, you grabbed a linen shirt that was hanging on the wall of your abandoned hut. You had forgotten to shake out any bugs that might have made it a home before putting it on and as you were buttoning it, two scorpions came out of the chest pocket, both stinging you.
You shook them off but their poison was already in you. Raul came over as he heard you screaming.
He went to work immediately. You were already feverish and couldn’t move. I can’t remember the details of everything he did to treat you, man do I wish I could. I really should have written this down. Why didn’t I write this down?
The gist of it is that Raul did his Shamanic thing on you for the next twelve hours. At certain points, he did this kind of laugh that I loved hearing you imitate. I wish I could do it justice. You kept wondering in your feverishness if he was actually trying to kill you and steal your stuff.
Eventually, you came out of it and were weak for a few days. Raul took care of you and you came back to health, stronger than ever. An incredible bond formed between you and he trusted you enough to take you up a mountain with the rest of his tribe as they performed a goat ceremony.
That’s a story for another time but it was another good one. You were full of them.
Out of the Palm of Your Hand
So, back to the psychology class. You had told them this story and the way you tell it…it’s just mesmerizing. You had every single student in that classroom. You had every single one. They were all listening to you, watching you with wide eyes, eager to hear more.
As you always do, you turned that story to the direction of the point of the talk and you were still able to keep them spellbound even when you got into the more academic parts. That was one of your many gifts.
After you were done, you sat back, smiled at how you had the students enthralled and looked over me and winked. It made my stomach do a somersault. I felt so proud to be your wife.
The room was silent for what felt like forever but probably only a minute or two. The students had no idea what they had just experienced. They were in a haze. They were in awe. This happened a lot after one of your talks.
Finally, one student came out of it and started clapping. This made the others realize what was happening and you had them all clapping enthusiastically, smiling and feeling like they had just been through some sort of ride.
They had just been on a ride. They had just heard Steven Rumbelow speak.
There are so many more memories I cherish. But today, this is the one I want to share. This is a memory of how you were when you were in your element.
This is when you felt the most confident and at your best. This is when you were the most fulfilled and this is why you chased performance in every way you could. It was a part of you. It was like one of your limbs.
I have heard from so many people who were touched by you. Even people who only met you once or twice found it to be such a memorable experience that it shifted something inside of them. You did that for a lot of people. It was like nothing I had ever seen.
Your Vast Absence
I miss you so much, Steven. I miss your laugh, I miss your smile, I miss your hugs. I miss you.
You are remembered. You are loved. You will never be forgotten. Your mark on this world will always be here and your absence will always be felt in such a big way.
Three years ago today, I lost you. But I didn’t lose who you were. I didn’t lose our love. I didn’t lose the mark you made on me.
I am living a completely new life now. I have another significant other who I cherish and love but he fills a different part of my heart, he doesn’t replace you there and neither of us would want him to. It’s good that he has his own place in my heart. There is more than enough room for both of you. I know you know that. None of this changes how much I miss you and how much your absence haunts me. I love you, Steven.
No matter where this life takes me, I carry you with me.
I always will.