Thanks again

Everyone we meet in life has an impact on us. Usually, that impact is negligible — a moment's thought as we shake hands with a stranger and hope we'll be able to remember his/her name. Occasionally, and rarely, you'll perhaps meet your nemesis, someone who'll frustrate your days.

And once in a great while, you'll meet someone who'll make your existence better than it was. Stephanie did that for me. She made my existence immeasurably better. Even now, after she's gone, she's still making my otherwise-insignificant life exponentially better than it was, or than it would've been without her. She made my personality less abrasive, my outlook far less pessimistic, and of course, she's the star of almost every happy memory in my head.

When I thanked her for all she'd done, she sometimes shook her head. Said she hadn't done enough. When I told her she was wonderful, beautiful, amazing, she argued that she wasn't. Steph never seemed to know how special she was. If you'd asked her, she would've said she was an ordinary woman — a little too quiet, too plain-looking, with no real accomplishments to speak of. And of course, she'd have been wrong on all counts.

Too quiet? When Steph was in public she didn't have a lot to say, but there's nothing wrong with that. It's certainly preferable to the oft-seen opposite — people who always have something to say, even when they have nothing to say. And of course, when Stephanie did have something to say, in public or in private, she said it. And you'd better brace yourself if she thought you were wrong.

Plain-looking? Harrumph. My wife was of course inarguably pretty, and in my eyes she seemed more attractive every time I looked at her. But she described her own looks harshly, and told me she had been taunted by mean boys for being less than a Playboy centerfold. Boys who would say such things, well, I certainly hope that they eventually became men, unhappily divorced from whatever woman once met their standards of appearance.

Accomplishments? After being a child genius, Stephanie thought she should've been a major success in life, and that anything less than that was a failure. I don't know what "major success" would've satisfied her, but she succeeded at all the "little things" that matter — she graduated from college (twice), she held down steady and respectable jobs, and she knew genuine right from wrong (an uncommon trait). She figured out the meaning of life — spoiler alert and not to be corny, but it's love. Also among her accomplishments, she had a successful marriage, and she survived eight years after kidney failure.

Another of Steph's significant accomplishments is that she raised a child until he became a responsible adult: me. I was 12½ years older than Stephanie, but when we met I was really just a little boy with gray hair. She made a man out of me, and that's a profound achievement.

I can't thank her enough, or anywhere near enough, for all she did for me. And I did thank her, out loud and at length and often, while she was alive. Just, not enough. And Stephanie thought I had done a few things worth saying thanks for, so she said "thank you" to me as well, as often and as enthusiastically as I thanked her.

Sure glad we weren't one of those stoic couples that keeps it all inside. That wasn't us; no, we were goopy. Syrupy. We said the sweet things to each other, frequently. Wish I could say thanks again.