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Age 17 - Steve and his mom celebrate his 17th birthday in 1999.

The following essay was written by Denise Pazur, Steve's mom on December 27, 2000 - 
the third month anniversary of his death.

The Valley

We were in a valley - a beautiful, lush valley full of joy and hope and life.

But in 1994, we began to ascend the assuming mountain that loomed over that valley. Loomed like a dark unknown force, casting its shadow on the valley of our happiness.

It was the year Steve was diagnosed with clinical depression. He was just 12 years old. A beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed little boy. But with a darkness inside him that no one could seem to reach.

As we began our climb up the cliff, the ascent was gradual at first. We had assistance from doctors and therapists. We had medication and we had communication - between Steve and ourselves. That communication kept us together, kept us fighting this force as the three of us banded together to combat this disease. Our unity increased our odds of success.

But as the years progressed and the climb dragged on, something happened. Our stamina waned, and the continuing climb required more stamina as the years went on.

At the same time, the mountain's slope increased to a precarious level. Things were getting worse. Communication was breaking down between us as the gale of adolescence and advancing depression drowned out our parental cries to take care, to be cautious. Puberty and hormones and cars and girls and experimentation were dwarfing our presence there on the slopes to help our son.

But there was no turning back. Our valley of happiness was out of sight. Perhaps it was gone, consumed in some flood or earthquake. We couldn't return. The only way was to press on.

Yet the climb was arduous and exhausting. The ropes that joined us as one team were fraying. Our equipment was wearing out. Some of it fell down the slopes as we lost our grasp in our fatigue.

Of all of us, Steve was on the most precarious ground. He took risks that weren't necessary. He extended himself beyond his limitations. He seemed to have little sense of self-preservation.

As we approached the summit of the mountain, it was all we could do - Bud and I - to keep ourselves grounded. Upright. Alive. It became each man for himself. As much as we wanted to do all we could to help Steve, he was slipping away.

Fast forward to today.

Bud and I had to leave Steve at the top of the mountain. Where the gale winds were at their fiercest. The cold of hopelessness was unbearable. The storm was at its worst.

He had succumbed. He would be swept up from that summit to a loving God, to an eternal life that would warm him, unite him with eternity, bring him peace.

But Bud and I were left to go on. To negotiate our descent. It's steep and frightful where we are now. Miles ahead we see the slope of the mountain diminish a bit. That offers hope. But right now there are miles ahead of us of treacherous terrain.

At Thanksgiving we reached a plateau, a small rocky outcropping where we could rest for a bit, take a breather, before moving on. The descent continues to be filled with shaky ground, crying out, hopelessness that we will ever reach the new valley below.

Christmas brought another respite. But now we are back on the path, moving forward, pressing on. Wishing we could have just stayed back at that rocky outcropping and let the cold and stillness overcome us. Join our son in eternity. But we move on We hang on. We brace ourselves and cling to one another.

I'll Lend You A Child

By Edgar Guest

"I'll lend you for a little time a child of mine,"  He said.

For you to love - while he lives

And mourn for when he's dead.

It may be six or seven years

Or twenty-two or three,

But will you, till I call him back,

Take care or him for Me?

He'll bring his smiles to gladden you,

And should this stay be brief

You'll have his lovely memories as solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay,

Since all from earth return,

But there are lessons taught down there

I want this child to learn.

I've looked this world over

In search for teachers true,

And from the throngs that crowd

Life's lanes, I have selected you.

Now will you give him all your love,

Nor count the labor vain,

Nor hate Me when I come to call to

Take him back again?"

I fancied that I heard then say,

"Dear Lord, Thy will be done,

For all the joy Thy child shall bring,

The risk of grief we'll run.

We'll shelter him with tenderness,

We'll love him while we may,

And for the happiness we've known

Forever grateful stay.

But should the angels call for him

Much sooner than we've planned,

We'll brave the bitter grief that come

And try to understand."