Goodbye, Steve. You were a good houseplant and a loyal friend.

We said goodbye recently to a good and loyal friend, Steve the Houseplant. Steve came to me as a house warming gift from Erin. I was moving into my first real apartment after graduating from college. It was an upstairs apartment at the very end of North State Street in Ann Arbor. From the window by my bed Steve would watch the kids come and go from the elementary school across the street. Beyond the school to the right he could see the tops of tall trucks driving over the Broadway Bridge. On humid summer nights he could smell the lazy Huron River silently making its way through town. Steve would listen to the cars that rumbled down our cobblestone street. At night the cars would come only every so often, their headlights briefly illuminating the interior of the apartment before passing by. Steve liked that.

Steve suffered many illnesses in his life, and many times we thought we might lose him. He fought valiantly. He carried on and moved with us—first to Brooklyn where from his stand in the kitchen he stood watch over the backyard garden. Next was our home upstate in the Catskills, where Steve realized his dream (if only for a short time) of living in the woods. In truth, Steve didn’t care for our home upstate. Neither did we. From there we returned to Ann Arbor. Again Steve lived in an upstairs apartment. In winter, from the living room window, he would watch the cars struggle to climb the icy hill on Seventh Street. They would spin their wheels awhile then slowly drift backward in defeat. Steve thought this was very funny.

Finally, Steve, Erin, and I moved to an apartment only a few hundreds yards from that very first spot on State Street. Steve was glad to be home. Steve faded away slowly and I was grateful for that. It gave us time to say a proper goodbye.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday Erin and I drove north to spend a quiet weekend along Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore—the most beautiful place I know. We brought Steve with us. On Thanksgiving morning we hiked our favorite trail in the park. At our favorite spot along the trail, with a view of Thoreson Farm, and from beyond that the sound of Lake Michigan lapping against the shoreline, we found a friendly evergreen tree. We introduced the tree to Steve then laid Steve to rest under the cover of the tree’s low branches. The next day there was snow. Steve had never been out in the snow before. I’m sure he liked that very much.



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