With great sadness, I say goodbye to Uncle Beave -- Steve Broas. Despite the efforts of everyone who participated in last year's Ice Bucket Challenge, Steve fought ALS and yesterday succumbed to its unrelenting path.
I will miss him greatly -- he lived with us when I was a child, he was my tee-ball coach, he was my even bigger older brother, my often stern, always loving moral compass even when I didn't want it (most of the time).
But I am so much more devastated for his siblings - my mom and her seven brothers and sisters - and Steve's three incredible daughters and wife, Wynne. We are so lucky to have this huge, wonderfully tight-knit family, and we will support them with everything we have.
Today I ask you to find a loved one who isn't so old, who's relatively healthy, in their prime, raising a family, and let them know how much you love them. It could be a friend, or your brother or sister, or your husband or wife.
Diseases like ALS show no respect for family ties, or youth, or potential. They know no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries. They strike quickly, and are highly efficient and predictable, holding true to pre-determined timelines, with no cure in sight.
We like to think we've come further than this. That we can control disease, that if we try hard enough, we can protect and save the ones we love. But we can only do so much, and if nothing else, please: let Steve's unabashed love of being an athlete and uncle and coach and brother and father and husband, his sudden diagnosis and brief fight against a disease he never courted, remind you to recognize or be reminded that the only thing we can control is this moment. And in this moment we can choose to play our cards close to the vest, or love without restraint or filter. We can choose, in this moment, to answer another email, or build blocks with our kids before they go to bed. We can choose to be jealous, or express pride. We can choose to be tormented by what we don't have, or appreciate what we do.
As Steve posted recently, through his Tobii communicator:
I love my family and my friends. I would do anything for any of you. And I would have given anything to save my Uncle Steve. But I'm so thankful for the things he taught me, and the moments we had. I hope I'm a better brother and uncle and husband and father for it.
Despite his physical slide, Steve never lost his words -- this is the unique devastation of ALS. He used Facebook to spread thanks:
He love the extra mile everyone went to visit him when he was stuck in his chair:
He even had some fun with it:
I've had a hard time getting out of bed today, but I can hear my kids downstairs, launching breakfast bowls across the room and eating bite-size sweet potatoes off the floor while my wife tries to simultaneously both cherish them, and tie them together, with a strong rope, like maybe heavy parachute-cord, and preferably, to a firm wall or heavy pole, for just a single moment to enjoy her goddamn coffee.
So I'm going to take the day off and play with my kids. There's adventures to be had, and lessons to be learned. I miss you Uncle Steve.