We thought about Steve a lot.
Although he had encouraged us to keep in touch, we felt awkward calling.
One day I mentioned to Jane I hadn’t spoken to him in almost a month.
“I don’t want to bother him.”
“Are you kidding?” she shot back. “If he’s ever needed his friends it’s now.”
“I don’t want him to think I’m calling to talk business,” I countered lamely.
“Then don’t talk business.”
He picked up on the second ring. There was lots of background noise. “Where are you?” I asked.
“At the hospital.”
“Getting my chemo.”
I gulped. “I’ll call you back another time.”
“No, don’t go. I’m bored as hell. Think about it…I’m here for hours, hooked up to an IV, with no one to talk to.”
“Visiting her mom in Scarsdale. How are you and Michael?” This was vintage Steve, steering the conversation away from himself, even in dire circumstances.
We chatted for fifteen minutes.
“Thanks for doing such a great job on our house.”
He laughed. “Hey, I just knocked down a few walls. I missed out on the rebuilding part.”
He was a master of self-effacement, but I wasn’t going to let him shrug off my praise so easily. “Jane tells me how great you’ve been, guiding her.”
“Bull crap. She could have done it by herself.”
“Okay, Steve. Just take a compliment. It won’t kill you.”
A short pause.
“True enough,” he laughed quietly. “Thanks.”