written by: Janice Heckt

How do you sum up someone’s life in a few paragraphs?  As I sit here thinking about what to say about Steven, and how to say it, with all of the memories flooding through that I have of him, I can’t help but refer to the poem “The Dash” by Linda Ellis.  The poem is about reading a headstone and what the dash between the two dates represents. The last verse reads as follows: “So, when your eulogy is being read, with your life's actions to rehash. Would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent your dash?”

Steven Louis Connors was born November 3rd, 1967 and passed away July 31, 2012, the day the earth shook and there was a crack in the surface...or at least in our world it did.

He was 5’9”, 165 lbs. barrel bodied, with a full thick black head of hair with sensitive sky blue eyes. He had chiseled features and a walk about him that both men and woman were attracted to. He had a smile that was contagious and if you could make this guy laugh, he liked you automatically. He was charming, funny, smart, playful, mischievous and at times puzzling. He never sat still; he was always pacing with nervous energy and was always thinking about something. He rooted for the underdog. He accepted people for who they were and never thought he was above anyone. He loved people, he studied people, he listened to people, and he knew how to talk to people. Steve was a great guy…

Steven worked at McGard for 10 years as a Plating Lab Technician. He loved Harley’s and always regretted selling his. He collected salt & pepper shakers, vintage beer cans, stamps and antiques. He held an interest in American history and politics. He knew how to fix anything and everything and was very good with tools. He loved the beach, loved skipping stones and looking out to the water. He loved walking through Chestnut Ridge, building fires, walking the creek, showing the kids how to catch crayfish and salamanders. His favorite movies were the Wizard of Oz, Rocky films, Caddy shack, Blazing Saddles, Goodfellas, Forrest Gump and the Godfather Series, and Kill the Irishman. He also liked to listen to Dropkick Murphy’s, Flogging Molly and Van Morrison. He loved Elvis and the “Boss”. He wasn’t much for reading books, but he did like to go through the newspaper everyday from beginning to end.

Steve is survived by his 17 year old daughter Alicia Marie, our 2 year old son Liam Daniel, his 2 brothers Dan and Nathan, his previous wife Christina and I as well as other family and friends. When Steve was a teenager the family was hit with heartbreak when his 7 year old brother Nicholas passed away after the loss of his eyesight and battle with cancer. He lost both his parents, Daniel and Donna in his young adult life. Holidays were hard for him, but he always held a brave face for those around him. He grew up in West Seneca and graduated from West Seneca East High School, class of 1986. He and his brother Dan competed in amateur boxing tournaments together. He loved reminiscing about those times; he loved to talk about his childhood, where he grew up, stories about the “good ole days”, stories of getting into fun trouble. When he talked of those memories he would then sit back quietly and you could tell for that moment he took himself back to those times just by the content look on his face.

 He adored children and animals, and they adored him in return. He loved our little labradoodle, Zoey, and I would often find the two of them in front of the fridge with a plate of left-overs, where he played with her the “one for you, one for me” game. He loved his children; they were the most important people in his life. It was mesmerizing to watch him and his children interact. It was as though none of life’s worries existed when he was with them. His rough exterior seemed to soften when they were around. He and Alicia had a very special father/daughter relationship. He used to paint her nails when she attended special occasions, and he was really good at it. He loved that no matter how old she was getting, she still held his hand in public. He spoke to her like an adult and her thoughts on life were always well considered. He would listen to her talk with a smile in his eyes, proud of how grown-up her thinking was for someone so young.

He admired her compassion. When Liam was born he was relieved to find out he was a boy, he wanted her to always hold the title of “daddy’s little girl” and he felt complete that he now had both a boy and a girl. Although Liam was only 1 ½ when Steve passed away, they held a special bond. Steve always attended to Liam’s needs as a baby, waking up with him  during the night for changing’s and feedings, though he had to be up for work at 4 in the morning. Even after working 10 sometimes 12 hours, he still came home and rolled around the floor with Liam no matter how tired he was. He loved Liam’s big hands and bragged about them often, but apologized to him for giving him his nose. He would hold Liam and laugh and say “sorry about the nose, buddy”, which I disagreed with, Steve’s nose was one of his best features. Liam followed Steve everywhere he went, he would sing “daddy daddy” down the hallway once he learned his first word. Liam is Steve’s clone, he looks so much like him and within that year and a half, he has mimicked his mannerisms even to this day. Steve was and still is my favorite person. For the 5 years we were together, we spent every day with one another. He taught me how to fix things around the house and in the yard. We walked and talked every single night from the time we first started dating, throughout my entire pregnancy no matter how big I got. We walked through the rain, the winter, through his shoulder replacement, through his hip replacement, no matter what obstacle was in front of us that day.  Those walks made me feel like we were the last two people left on the planet, nothing else mattered. He made me laugh everyday. He was a funny guy. He made me feel good about myself, he made me feel beautiful. Like most couples, we weren’t perfect, but we were perfect for each other. We accepted one another for all of our ugliness. I thought we’d walk side by side forever. He used to say it was us against the world, together we can figure it out. My heart is, to this day, still shattered. He taught me what it meant to truly love another person.

Because of all the loss in his life, it was important for him to attend funerals. He would say, I can give people five minutes of my time to show them that I’m here for them. He knew just what to say to comfort those who lost their loved ones. He would say, “ I just tell them what I needed to hear when I lost my family”. When my great-grandmother passed , he wrote me a note that I hold onto and read every day. It seems to help with his passing…

 

He wrote…

 “It’s not going to be easy, I won’t lie to you and tell you it will get better-eventually, but not fast. If you didn’t have that pain, that feeling of loss, that confusion, then that would mean there wasn’t any love…In this case, there was a ton!”-Steve

Steve battled demons throughout his life and still always managed to make sure everyone else was ok before himself. He liked helping people, it made him feel good, and no matter how much pain his arthritis caused or how much his heart hurt over the loss of his brother and parents, he would never let anyone know about it. Unfortunately we lost him too soon, his demons had won and his willpower to live had lost. We share his story with others to let people know that just because someone says they're ok, doesn't always mean they are. As taboo as suicide is, it exists. We face his story head on in hopes that it may prevent someone else from doing the same thing. Though he left behind his family the way he did, it has taught us to open our eyes, to pay attention, to help one another, to listen to one another, to understand one another and to love one another just that much more...

The donation Steve made was always very important to him. He had said to me one time when we were talking about organ donation, I don't remember what brought up the subject,  we were just talking, and I said "No way, I want to be intact" and he said to me in response "What would I need everything if I'm no longer here. To give someone the chance to see, to be able to give someone what my little brother Nick had taken away, they can have it all."

After Steve passed away, Unyts sent a letter stating how his donations changed someone else's life. That's when I knew for myself that it changed my way of thinking, and now I agree with Steve, "they can have it all..."

Steve was a great father, a great brother, a great friend, a great partner…it’s hard to believe he’s gone, we need more of him, and we loved him so…

It’s a bittersweet feeling knowing that he is still with us through someone else’s dash…

 

 

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