The patio - Minnesota

Sitting here with my morning coffee, looking out over the grounds of what was once the old Ford plant. Our dream community, with all the little stores and restaurants, and the Lunds & Byerlys supermarket. I never would have thought I’d appreciate it for the built-in support, meaning the dozen or so other women who live here without their spouses. They’ve been wonderful and have become true friends since you passed. 

Nancy & Steve's Wedding - July 12, 1974

This whole community is gorgeous, especially this time of year. So fragrant and floral. Fireworks of color that blossom everywhere—in hanging baskets and gardens, along walkways and in flower boxes. It all reminds me of you, especially the shrubs, which make me laugh about when you’d toss the newspaper into ours on your weekly paper route, and my dad would say: “Hey, tell that Trost kid to stop throwing the paper in my shrubs!” I was happy to; after all, it was an excuse to talk to you. 

We really were just kids when our love story began. My friends called me crazy as we rode bikes past your house, but I knew, Steve, that you were the one for me. And then one night when I was fifteen and you were sixteen, you stood in my kitchen and asked if I wanted to walk around the lake. I said yes, and I’m so glad I did. 

A few months ago, I celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary. It was the first one without you, and while I was sad—of course I was—I found peace in all the beauty you brought to this world, and to everyone who was lucky enough to be part of yours. 

It’s truly amazing what you accomplished. You grew 15,000 plants every year at the University of St. Thomas. Only when your eyesight began to fail did you step away. Incredibly, there were people at work who never even knew you were legally blind. Thanks to me, right? 

I don’t need cane training. I have a seeing eye wife. Ring a bell? 

You really don’t realize how ingrained a behavior is until you’re no longer meant to do it. For example, I find myself telling friends that it’s dark as we walk into a restaurant or that we’re going either right or left. Not that you couldn’t have gotten by without me. You were an extraordinary navigator. Now that you’re no longer in the passenger seat, I have to use my GPS. You’ve probably looked down and laughed at how turned around I’ve gotten myself. 

Nothing was ever going to stop us from enjoying life. From kicking cancer three times to being legally blind for fifteen years, you always kept a smile on your face. Your number one mission in life was to make memories. With me. Our children and grandchildren. Our friends. Looking back on all our adventures, I’d say it’s definitely mission accomplished

Maine and Fort Myers, Florida. Rhode Island. Cannon Beach, Oregon. A whole month in Europe. Oh the places we went. I’ll be back at Cannon Beach next summer, with the whole family. We rented a house near the beach so we can scatter your ashes. It will be hard for the grandkids, but a proper send-off, I think. 

We’ll take some to Canal Park in Duluth for your birthday over Thanksgiving, too. And your guys—The Lost Boys—are planting a memorial tree for you at the Boundary Waters. You’re going to be in all the places you loved. 

And there’s more. Even though our 50th wedding anniversary isn’t going to be as I dreamed it—sometimes we have to alter our dreams—it’s going to be extra special, because I will have a piece of you with me again. Remember the family ring we talked about? The one that you made me promise I would make for myself? Well, I’m keeping my promise, Steve. With Eterneva, I’m growing a ruby red diamond to signify July, the month of our anniversary, from a portion of your ashes. The ring will be designed in the likeness of a flower, with each petal being the birthstones of our children and grandchildren. It’s going to become an incredible family heirloom someday, and most importantly, I’ll have something of you that’s more than a memory.

I hope that when July 12, 2024 comes around, I’ll have your diamond. It’s such a good feeling to know that Eterneva is handling you with care and respect. They send regular updates which makes me feel secure and involved, and excited to see your stone that I know will be as radiant as you were in life. 

I’ll always love you, Steve. I hope you know how many lives you touched, and that you were simply the kindest man. You nurtured flowers, and friendships, too. We had the most amazing life together. Now, when I hear our song come on over the radio, Remember When by Alan Jackson, I’ll know it’s you saying, I love you too. Someday, not yet, I’ll take your hand again and you’ll lead me home. 

Forever and always,