When I was in college, I sat next to a brother and sister in my photography class. Anne and Stony were kind, generous, had a zest for life, just plain exciting and fun. I knew immediately that I wanted to be their friend and I was. It was an extraordinary season in my life.
Stony was into body building and he and Anne owned a gym. Years prior to meeting them, Stony had battled lymphoma and kicked its behind. He worked hard and did well in many bodybuilding competitions. Their dad lived in New Orleans and I spent time at their home on State Street. (no, I never dated Stony if you were thinking that, just friends) Anne had a cottage behind her grandmothers home in Poplarville, MS and we would go there for some down time. I loved staying there and enjoying the family vibe they had created. I have many fond memories that include them.
After I had graduated and started moving all over the South, Stony returned to college for architecture, graduated, worked with his dad (a very prominent New Orleans architect) and married a young lady that I have not met but have heard how extraordinary she is.
Although I have not seen them since college, I have kept in touch with them. I knew Stony was fighting the good fight once again on the disease that ravaged his body but could never ravage his spirit. The lymphoma was not through with him and unfortunately, he lost the third and final, fierce battle Friday.
I have prayed for Anne, Stony's wife and the rest of their family to be able to endure the pain of their loss and to feel the peace of our loving God who Stony is now lifting some heavy weights for in Heaven.
I have wondered all day why this has hit me so hard. I have not seen them or been in their lives for almost 18 years. I am not totally sure of the answer of why I am so overwhelmed, but I think it is because without a shadow of a doubt I know that Stony lived his life how we all should. He made every moment of his life count. He was full of joy, love and hope, and he touched everyone he met with his incredible enthusiasm and zest for life. He was the genuine, real deal.
So, tonight, I grieve for the beautiful man who was a gentle giant, a hero, and touched the hearts of everyone who was blessed to know him. And, I reevaluate how I live everyday. For taking advantage of my blessings, spending time and emotions on things that really do not matter, and not living like I was dying.
Tomorrow is a gift, what are you going to do with it?
The Park Wife