In the post, I asked for readers to say a prayer for my dear friend Steve Harris, who was battling a rare blood cancer called myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS. Last Thursday, after a valiant fight, during which he displayed unimaginable courage, Steve succumbed to MDS.
Today, Saturday, October 10, Steve will be laid to rest in his hometown of Cleveland. Sharon McCormick and I will be making the drive to Cleveland, to pay our last respects to a man we respected, admired and loved.
The last time I was in Cleveland was the week before I began this journey, when Sharon and I visited Steve in the Beechwood Rehabilitation Facility. It was a wonderful visit, one filled with laughter and tears. After an afternoon of radio war stories and reflections on the meaning of life, Sharon and I prepared to leave for the long ride back to Cincinnati. Steve asked if we could take a moment to pray with him. With that, we held hands and Steve took the lead, moving us with his natural eloquence. I wish I could remember the exact words of Steve's improvised prayer. But what I do recall is that it was a prayer of farewell and friendship. He knew something Sharon and I tried to block out of our minds.
Steve was so excited about my Journey. We spoke several times per week, me giving him updates and sharing stories from the road. Our last conversation was on a day I was feeling a little depressed, dragged down by several days of non-sleep. It was one of those rare moments when I thought that maybe it was time to pack up and head home. Steve refused to hear it. He reminded me that the "voice" I heard, the voice that compelled me to get on the bus, was the voice of God. He told me that I didn't have a choice, that I had an obligation to God, to the universe, to continue the Journey, to "tell their stories."
I returned home yesterday, ended the Journey, at least for now. It felt the appropriate thing to do, knowing that today I will be back in Cleveland, in Steve's home, celebrating his life, bringing closure to his remarkable journey.
Rest in peace, my friend.