Eulogy by Steve’s mom and SGF Trustee Elaine Alpert
How can I say words about a loss for which there are no words? There is no rulebook, no roadmap, and no guidance for what to do when a mother loses a child. Steve’s death is so, so unfair, and such a loss for his future, my life, my family, our entire community and I believe the entire world. I can’t make any sense of this, but what I can do is share with you some of the gifts of Steve’s life and a few stories and insights about this beautiful child. There is no way to do this job justice in just a few brief minutes, because Steve’s life was so enriched, so full, so bursting with love and pleasure. But I will try to share a few of his gifts with you now.
Steve was smart – so keenly intelligent, with an inquiring, abstract and creative mind. He had such a love of learning, about life, art, science, engineering, people, cultures, sports – really everything. There was nothing he wasn’t open to learning about.
Steve was happy – he was such a happy little guy. Always smiling, even radiant. He loved life, loved people, loved and loved and loved. Just Thursday, before getting on the bus, we were at Walgreen’s buying candy and junk food for the trip. He was so bubbly and excited about the band trip that pretty soon all the clerks and customers were engaged in a conversation with him and were wishing him well and high-fiving him. This was not an unusual event – things like this would happen all the time, everywhere we went – Costco, Home Depot, Omni, – with just about everyone. Steve just had a way of radiating joy all around him.
Steve was generous – he was forever lending things to others, sharing things, giving of himself, helping out friends and family. From candy at lunch to the shirt off his back, Steve was generous. But the best of his generosity was when he shared his love, encouragement, companionship and loyalty. There was so much of that to go around, and the more he gave, there more there was to give.
Steve was loving and affectionate – he did not have a mean bone in his body nor an unkind word about anyone. He had hugs and kisses galore in his affection storehouse, and was free and unabashed with his affection, especially toward myself, Bill, Sarah, Dan, Catherine, Randy and Holly.
Steve had a lot of knicknames. The first one he had was “Happy Honey,” which was given to him by his daycare provider when he was just 4 months old. Later, he was known as “Stevie Weevie”, and “The Weevun.” More recently, his nicknames were “The Weeve”, “Mr. Steve”, “The Great Stevinator”, and at Camp Winona, “Chickenhawk.” We all went to Hawaii for February vacation, and discovered his Hawaiian name there – “Kiwini.” He just hated being called Kiwini, but I couldn’t resist. And finally, I always called him what he really was, “Sweet Thing.”
Steve was quirky and cute – some of his quirky cuteness was obvious – his spiked hair, Hawaiian shirts, scooter, goofy smile and floppy ears. But he had other cutenesses – he loved to eat shrimp (sorry, Rabbi!), and we’d go out to Beijing Star in Waltham periodically for “shrimp festivals,” where we’d order 5 or 6 different shrimp dishes. He and Bill had a whole routine of bad jokes and puns that they would tell each other again and again, and they kept making up new ones all the time.
Steve was a great sport and a real team player – he loved both soccer and hockey, and was forever encouraging of others and realistic about his own skills. He was new at playing hockey – he only played for one season, but he was so grateful for the chance to play and for any ice time he could get. He knew he wasn’t the strongest player on the team, but that didn’t stop him from trying his earnest best. Even when his team lost, he always focused on the fact that the team played their best and had a good time. Fair and earnest play mattered to Steve. Winning didn’t.
Steve, as you can see, was surrounded by community. He embraced, and was embraced, by so many different loving communities – his family, friends, neighborhood, school, temple, our folk dancing community, summer camp, and family camp, to name just a few. He wrote an essay called “My Community” in 5th grade, and won an award for his entry.
All children are remarkable in their own way, but I think Steve was exceptional. He was always open to all of life’s possibilities, and lived each and every day to the very fullest. The world just hummed around him and he thrived in just about every situation. Everything and everyone he touched got the full 150%.
Steve thrived in school, especially this year in 7th grade, thanks to his terrific spirit and the wonderful teachers and staff at Oak Hill Middle School. Thanks to you all for making his time there so positive.
Steve thrived at Temple Shalom – he was just 6 weeks shy of becoming a bar mitzvah when this tragedy happened. He was studying his prayers, his torah portion, the chants and all the rest that goes with becoming bar mitzvah. As part of his bar mitzvah preparation, he and Bill were planning to go to an area battered women’s shelter next Saturday to paint and do repairs.
Play – he was really good at this part. From street hockey with Sam, Lizzie and others, to building enormous snow forts, to organized sports, and just hanging out at home, Steve gave 100% to all his play time. He did it all with gusto.
Friends – Steve had so many friends. Everyone was Steve’s friend, and it seemed he was everyone’s friend in return. We will miss seeing the more than 90 kids he invited to his bar mitzvah – most of whom had RSVP’d that they were planning to come.
Family – What can I say? Steve was precious to all of us in so many, many ways.
Steve’s living was a real gift to us all for nearly 13 years. He was a unique and most precious person and my life has been enriched every second we had him with us. I am so blessed to have been his mom, and to watch him grow and change every day. In January 2000, for a school assignment, Steve made a chart of his favorites, dislikes, family, hobbies and dreams for the future. The column under “dislikes” was blank. Under “dreams for the future,” he listed, “start a family.” “I want to start a band,” “I want to go to BU School for the Arts,” and “die peacefully and old.”
There is so much more I can say about Steve, and I know everyone has their own thoughts and memories of him. Steve’s sister and brother put together the photo montage that is out in the lobby area of the temple, and some of the heartfelt tributes from the children at Oak Hill and other schools are at our home for you to view. Please share your own memories with everyone you care to, whenever you want. This is my view of how we carry on after the end has come on earth – in our memories and in how we live our lives.
Steve’s death is a terrible, tragic, wrenching loss. I know I will never get over the loss of my darling sweet son, and my guess is that none of us here will either. Our lives were forever enriched by Steve’s short life, and we will be ever saddened by losing him at such a young, sweet, tender age. That is why we are all here together, to put our arms around each other and grieve as one community of love. And for that, my family and I thank you from the depths of our aching souls.
But even though we will never get over this tragedy, I hope we will, as a community, stick together and create something positive and enduring to remember Steve, Kayla, Melissa and Greg – the four sweet children who perished on Friday morning. Bill, Sarah, Dan, Randy, Holly, my mom and I have already talked about how best to see all the good that Steve lived for continue on and grow, and these are our first thoughts:
- We plan to donate his already paid summer camp tuition, as well as a portion of other contributions that we receive in his memory to Winona, his beloved summer camp, so that a deserving child who otherwise could not afford to go can be at this wonderful place. Steve’s life was enriched so by his summers at Winona, and we want other kids to have the opportunities that he was so fortunate to have. I know that some of my cherished friends and colleagues in the domestic violence and violence prevention communities are collecting funds in Steve’s memory – perhaps some of this money can help an adolescent boy who has been exposed to domestic violence get a break and a breath of air, and some nurturing, positive male bonding at Winona. It’s a very special place.
- We would like to create a foundation, perhaps called the Steve Glidden (or 4 kids) Youth Leadership and Advocacy Foundation, with other contributions, to help 7th to 12th graders develop and hone their skills in leadership, outreach and advocacy, in an area that they define as important to them, be it homelessness, smoking prevention, drunk driving prevention, violence in relationships, combating homophobia, working to end racism, world peace, whatever. Steve was so interested in making a difference, and his opportunity was cut short by what happened on Friday morning. Perhaps this foundation could be housed at BU School of Public Health, where I work, perhaps at Temple Shalom, perhaps elsewhere. It’s just a thought at the moment, but I, for one, need to focus on the future. The present is just too painful.
- Finally, I have spoken to the other three families whose children have died, to lend whatever support and condolences I can muster. Each of these families, the Rosenbergs, the Leungs, and the Chans, are grieving and hurting as badly as ours and my thoughts and prayers are with them too. All four families want our children remembered by their lives, not by their deaths. Perhaps we could forsee a small grove of trees with benches, sculptures, or the like, on the Oak Hill School grounds, or perhaps something else. I look to the children of Oak Hill – Steve’s, Kayla’s, Greg’s and Melissa’s friends, to help the grown-ups think up ideas.
Now is not the time to move ahead on any of these ideas. I as a mother, and we as a community, first need to go home and cry. But perhaps, with us all binding together in the weeks and months to come, we can move beyond this awful time and honor Steve’s life the way he would want us to.
Eulogy by Steve’s father Randy Glidden
It’s clearly obvious from the number of people here today that my son touched the lives of many. Even if you didn’t know him directly, then you must be someone close to those of us whose lives where so greatly influenced and enriched by this remarkable young man. His loss creates a void in our lives that is truly difficult to comprehend and process. How do we begin to understand why he has left us and how in the world we are going to get along without him?
As a divorced dad I have had to try to put into every other weekend as much companionship, living, and loving as other dads have all week to do. It’s been a tall order, but Steve always seemed to appreciate what we were able to do together. Sometimes it was just watching a video movie at night, or going to a soccer game, or going sailing, or skiing. What ever we did together, Steve always gave everything his all and seemed to enjoy doing it with me.
And he was a good sport, too. He’d try anything. Four weeks ago today Steve and I went skiing at Cannon Mountain. The snow that had been incredible all winter was still in beautiful condition. I skied and he snowboarded, conquering all the intermediate and a lot of the black diamond trails as well. By the afternoon we were feeling like we could handle just about anything. We came upon a rather narrow, mogul encrusted trail marked “for expert skiers only.” I asked Steve if we should try it and he said, “But Dad, I’m a snowboarder, not a skier.” And I said, “Well Steve, you should be just fine then!” So we picked our way down this rather steep and bumpy trail, and it didn’t seem so bad after all. Then we rounded a turn and there lying before us was a quite nearly vertical slope with moguls the size of Volkswagens. Steve just gave a sigh and proceeded to pick his way among the bumps without a whimper, as I did my best to follow him and remain more or less upright. We finished our day at Cannon with a breathtaking top to bottom run that demonstrated to me just how very accomplished Steve had become as a snowboarder in the year or so he had been doing it. It was a great day, and it was also the last day that the two of us spent alone together. I thought to myself driving home down Route 93 with Steve snoozing in the front seat, that life doesn’t get much better than this.
But as we now know, it can get a whole lot worse. So now that we have lost our Steve, what questions can we answer? We can not answer “why,” because there is no “why.” We can try to answer “how,” but the answers we have heard so far have brought us no comfort, only more grief and sadness. Perhaps the only question that really deserves a thoughtful answer is, “what do we do now that he’s gone?”
I’m not sure I have a complete answer now or if I ever will, but I have some thoughts that may work for me – and maybe even for you. As I said before, Steve Glidden touched the lives of everyone who knew him. His energy, sense of humor and lust for life were truly amazing. Rudyard Kipling, in one of his poems, spoke of filling “every unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run.” Well Steve, you always managed to fill your minutes with sixty-one! He tried to cram as much living, and loving, and happiness into every day as he possibly could, and every single soul that knew him loved him and appreciated him for it. Although it is so very painful that he is gone, could you imagine what we would have missed if we’d never known him? So what do we do now that he is gone?
For me, I am going to remember. I am going to remember every minute we spent together, every wisecrack he ever said to me, every tender moment we had together, every little trip we ever took together; I’ll collect, look at, categorize, and memorize every photo and video we ever took of him, and I am going to keep him within me and make him become a part of who I am for the rest of my life. If I can keep him alive inside me, then his physical loss, although excruciatingly painful now, may some day hurt just a little bit less. And so for you all today, please celebrate with us the life of Steve Glidden: never forget how he touched your lives, and let him live with you inside your hearts for all of your days.
Eulogy by Steve’s stepfather and SGF Trustee Bill Marsh
Monday April 23rd was a perfectly ordinary Monday. I picked Steve up at Oak Hill late in the afternoon, following a band practice where he and his classmates were preparing for their upcoming trip to Nova Scotia. We got home around five. Steve – unusually – had most of his homework done and – not unusually – wanted to play some street hockey. There were no other kids around at the time, but he put on his roller blades and his trademark BU hockey jersey and skated and shot by himself for an hour or so. Steve loved to be with his friends, but he did just fine when he was all by himself.
A little after six, I went out to bring him back into the house to get ready for dinner. He wanted to keep playing. So, I decided, dinner can wait. I went into the basement and came back out with some of my goalie equipment so Steve could take a few more shots. For about five minutes I was able to keep him at bay. Instead of becoming frustrated, he would praise each save I made (including the lucky ones) and vow to get me with the next shot. That was Steve: never a bad word, only encouragement for others.
Finally, he swung around in a wide circle and fired a low, hard shot that found the back of the net. He put it right between my legs “the “five hole”. It was a great shot – I never had a chance.
In hockey, the forwards play with fast hands and nimble feet. The goalies play with quick reflexes and admittedly dubious judgment. But to play defense takes one thing above everything else. It takes heart.
I don’t have to tell you that Steve was a defenseman.
Steve scored on his last shot in hockey. It was a great shot. He scored on the shot he took at life. He gave life a great, great shot.
I stand before you today to ask you for your help in honoring the life of Stephen Glidden. My name is Bill Marsh and the closest I can come to describing Steve’s relationship with me is to call him my stepson, but that word is too flimsy and insufficient.
Do not be deceived by my appearance today. You are looking at a man who can only be described as extraordinarily blessed. Just as I am looking at hundreds of you who know you have been extraordinarily blessed. We are the ones who can say, “I knew Steve Glidden.” We have been blessed.
We share something else in common. We knew Steve for too short a time. Had Steve lived longer, I truly believe he would have grown up to change this world – and change it for the better. I know this, because he changed mine. You know this, for the way he changed yours.
You have heard from others about Steve’s many wonderful qualities. We could go on listing them for hours without exaggerating or repeating. It’s all true. He was that special. But let me remind you of two of the qualities that made Steve who he was, and let me ask you to carry those qualities with you when you leave here today.
Steve was extraordinarily open to life and all of its possibilities. He truly embraced life. He inhaled new challenges and new adventures. What he did for me was so typical of Steve. For two brief, luminous years, I circled in Steve’s orbit and he in mine. During that time, I became part of his family. Steve made this possible for me. Other 11-year-olds might well have resented or resisted a stranger in their world. Not Steve. He welcomed me into his house, his home, and even into his heart.
Steve was brimming with love. True, he grew up surrounded by love from his family, his friends and his community. But he did not simply absorb this love. He didn’t even merely reflect it back to those from whom it came. Somehow, with Steve’s spirit, more love came back out than went in. At times, I could only stop and marvel at the miracle of this boy. He gave me a gift of love and joy that I have never felt before.
I am sure he also gave these gifts to you, in your own way, whether you knew him well or knew him barely in passing. Steve was generous.
I ask nothing for myself today. I have been blessed. But I do ask something of you. I ask you to honor not just Steve’s memory, but also his spirit. I ask you to remember him and honor him by living your own life just a little bit more like he lived his. Not today, but tomorrow and next week, next month and next year. Open yourself a little more to life’s possibilities, as he did. Be a little more generous to others, as he was. Share your love not only with those you know, but even with the occasional stranger.
At the end of this service, a hearse will carry away Steve’s body. I ask all of you to carry away his spirit.
In this way, together, we can help to change this world as he would have and keep his memory and spirit alive forever.
Eulogy by Steve’s sister and SGF Trustee Sarah Glidden
For the past two years I haven’t been able to go on our family’s annual February vacations because of my college schedule. When they asked me to come to Hawaii this year, I decided to skip a week and a half of classes to go. Besides being happy about going to Hawaii for the first time, I was really excited to spend such a long time with my family, especially my brothers Dan and Steve. And it was the greatest ten days of my life. I got to see how much Steve had grown into his own wonderful person while I had been busy with school. He told me about girls who like him, his friends, and how much he loved the BU hockey games.
Steve and I took surfing lessons together in Hawaii. I was so confident that I was going to get up on the board that day. But as I kept wiping out and not catching the waves right, I watched Steve get up over and over. I was frustrated and mad at myself for not being able to do what a 12-year old could. Steve was no ordinary 12-year old, though. He always had the persistence to keep trying, even if it was difficult, and even if he wasn’t good at it right away. He came up to me as I was ready to quit and said, “Sarah, you’re doing really well! Surfing is hard. You almost made it. You should try again!
So, because of Steve, I did try again, and while I still didn’t make it up, I was so impressed by what Steve had said to me. Because of him I will never give up.
Steve could be mature beyond his years, and he could also bring out the little kid in me. I grew years younger on that trip because of him. I will always remember the massive pillow fight the three of us had in the hotel and how Steve laughed and laughed as we pounded on each other.
Steve was always laughing. The last time I saw him was on Passover. At the end of the night when we were all sitting around the table, he sang a song from the South Park movie for me and my friends and Dan. He knew all the words to all those funny songs, but he could hardly get through the whole thing because he was laughing too much.
I wish I could have said goodbye. He had so much ahead of him because he could do anything. He had wanted to go to MIT for a large portion of his life. Last year, after he came to see my class’s art show at BU, he said he wanted to go to BU School for the Arts. Steve would have been the best artist they ever had. And he could have gone anywhere he wanted.
Steve, I miss you so much and I will never forget you.
Eulogy by Steve’s brother and SGF Trustee Dan Glidden
My student, my teacher, my best friend, my brother. I taught you everything I know of this world, and you taught me how to be a better brother. I remember being astonished at how fast you picked up skateboarding, hockey, soccer, and every other sport you tried. I also remember wondering if I should ask you for tips because you were getting more phone calls from girls than I was.
The thing I remember most is knowing that everyone you met walked away a better person from knowing you. You didn’t know or understand hate. You loved life and were happy even at the worst of times. There was so much more I wanted to show you, and so much more I wanted you to show me.
So now, you got a head start on the rest of us, so just as I did my best to show you the ropes of this life, you can do your best to show me the ropes of the afterlife. And someday, man, as corny as this sounds, together we’ll ride that big half-pipe in the sky.
Say hi to Hendrix for me, and remember, keep your hair up and your fists down.
I love you.
The messages below are just a few of the many meant for Steve and sent to his family. For more messages sent to family click here.
Remarks by Steve’s friend, Eli, delivered at the Oak Hill Middle School Memorial Service on May 3, 2001
I know you will never hear this, but I’m reading it anyway. You have always been such a great friend to everybody you know, and you mean so much to all of us. I don’t know what I’m going to do. When I heard you had been killed in the accident, I went crazy. I didn’t know what to say, how to act, or anything. I just stood there and felt bad. That afternoon I had a bunch of kids over and we watched the news and tried to comfort each other in this horrible situation. I’m really going to miss seeing you ride your scooter down the halls, and hearing your laugh. I remember last year when we hung out every single day for nearly a week. We went to Pizza Man, bought the one and only “Physical Fatness.” Rode around on our scooters and bikes, and had a bunch of sleepovers. I had so much fun hanging out with you and I wish we could have done it more often. Do you remember the time when we went to the mall and saw those shirts we loved so much, but couldn’t get because they were so expensive? We agreed to come back when we had gotten enough money. I guess it’s up to me to get them for us now. Everybody lately has been so upset about you and Melissa and Greg and Kayla. Yesterday I was at school and I saw Ms. Richmond. She was so upset about your death and she said the Bowen faculty was also. As I said before, all of you mean so much to so many people, and you always will be in our hearts. I promise you that. I miss you so much.
Steve’s friend Molly wrote this letter to him shortly after the tragedy
I usually write letters to people because I love getting mail in return. However, this letter is one-way. You were such a good friend, and nearly the entire 7th grade would agree with me. You had so many great qualities, more than I have the writing compasity for. You were smart, funny, handsome, wacky, and popular. You were loved by many and disliked by none. Anyone who knew you knows it is impossible to hate you. I am so glad I met you – you really changed my life. Oak Hill wouldn’t have been the same without your spiky hair and your scooter. I remember your wacky sense of humor and your positive outlook on life. You had a great personality to match your unique exterior. You were interesting and special, a wonderful person. It’s so hard to believe that you are really gone. When you were alive and seemed so invincible and so full of life. In fact, you were so full that you were bursting at the seams and then had extra left over to share with everyone else. I loved you like I would love a brother and I am going to miss you terribly. Goodbye, Steve Glidden. You will always hold a special place in my heart, and in my thoughts.
Love, with all my heart,
Your forever friend,
This letter was sent to Steve’s family a few days after the tragedy:
Dear Steve’s parents,
You don’t know me – my name is Helene and I used to ride the school bus with Steve. I wanted to tell you how sorry I was when hearing about Steve’s death. I am in the sixth grade, and I have only known Steve since the beginning of the school year. Steve was a good friend of mine. He always talked to me when I was alone on the bus and when we walked home from it. He also was like a hero to me. He defended me from a boy who was bothering me, even though it was one of his friends. I hope that you know that he was loved by many and will be sorely missed. I believe that Steve is with God now and at peace. I pray that you will find peace and comfort also.
Excerpts from a letter about Steve from his friend Vanessa
The first memory I have of Steve is from the beginning of 6th grade. We were put in groups and told to find things we all had in common. Of course, I was put in an all-boys group of strangers, and figured I was pretty much doomed. I was wrong. Steve was one of the guys in my group, and although on the surface it seems we have nothing in common, that’s not true. We both liked chocolate chip cookies, had some mutual friends, and we were both obsessive about our hair! From then on, me and Steve were friends. I started eating lunch at the same table as him, and I remember he sat in the same seat every single day. And if you ever needed half a seat, or one third of a seat, or once even one fourth of a seat, Steve was willing to share.
That was such a Steve gesture – to let me share a seat that was already being used by 3 people. No matter what, he was always willing to help. If I was sad, he’d hug me. If I was cold, he’d offer me his sweater. And when I wanted to learn how to ride a scooter in my platforms, Steve offered to teach me, using his beloved scooter. Steve was the greatest friend – I knew I could count on him for anything….
At Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, Steve was always ready to dance and have a ball… Steve was always first choice for dancing, because he was so good, and because his happiness and enthusiasm were contagious. And of course, with his bright Hawaiian shirt and fancy footwork, soon most of the older guests were watching us and even asking for tips!
As I write this, I feel dissatisfied. As I have been recollecting all these memories, I don’t feel I have written them in a way that is special enough to represent Steve. I guess that’s the point of this – to say how special Steve was, to me and to everyone in his life. Steve was friends with everyone, and everyone wanted to be his friend. I feel so lucky to have known him, even though it was for such a short time. Steve, whether he was aiming to or not, was going to change the world with his caring personality and wicked sense of humor. These traits combined never failed to make even the saddest situations ok. I feel that we need him here now, to make this ok. And although he didn’t end up changing the world at large, he changed the lives of everyone who ever knew him. Like one of the speeches read at the funeral said, we all have a little bit of Steve in us now, and I think that will make me, at least, a better person.
So I guess I am writing this to tell you something you already know: Steve was a very special person. He was an amazing friend, a great student, a sportsman, a musician, a “punk,” and the sweetest guy I know.
I love Steve, and I will never forget him. He will stay in my heart, always and forever.
This is a letter written by Steve’s friend, Sacha
When I think about Steve I think about the sweet boy, with a unique look and a smart mind. I think of the memories.
Whenever someone, even a stranger, needed comfort, Steve was there with a smile, a hub, and words of comfort… He never got in fights, and he was careful to never play with anyone’s feelings… That was just Steve – he was different but yet he made friends with everyone.
There is definitely one thing that everyone remembers Steve by – his HAIR. His gel coated spiked hair. It was long, and it stood in mountains with pointy tips, 3 inches away from his head. Another thing was his Hawaiian shirts. It seemed his closet was full of them. It completed his “Steve” look” the spiked hair, huge smile, blue eyes, Hawaiian shirts and of course, the scooter. Yes, the scooter. Somehow, some way, Steve would never get caught speeding down the hallway.
Lastly, just before the accident I received his Bar Mitzvah invitation. Written in blue and accompanied by Steve’s smiling face, I could tell he was confident and ready. I believe the picture was there for a reason. His smile is there to remind us to keep smiling. His hair is there to encourage us to be different. His confident look is there to push us to achieve our goals. And finally, his STEVE face is there to make friendships, help people, be kind, and to never forget him..
As I look at this paper, I suppose I could stop here, but truly this could go on forever. I guess I just want to tell you that for the short time I knew Steve and grew close to him, I have learned a lot. It is really, truly and honor to have known Steve. And though I love him and I will miss him, I will cherish the memories, and I vow to never, ever forget him.
After I wrote this, I remembered one more memory that I would like to share… A well-liked game played by 7th graders is the “love calculator” that we play on people’s Palm Pilots. You match 2 people to see what percentage they get together. Steve got 100% with EVERYBODY (no lie!) because, of course, as we know Steve, he loved everyone. And that part of him will remain with us forever.
Thank you for reading this.
Two messages from Sami G.
I don’t know why I’m writing you, and I am having serious doubts about how this will reach you, but somehow I have faith that whatever I’m about to say will reach you. First of all, I’m so sorry I never really got to know you. I’ve heard so much about you since you left us and I know that your warm personality is still here with us. From what I saw, you were loyal to your friends and cared deeply for them. You were such a great person because you made everyone around you happier. You were always there in the center spotlight whenever something fun happened. Band was made so much better because of your smile and your laugh. I wish I knew all the words to “Oh, Canada” so I could write them down for you. Second of all, I’m sorry I let you, Kayla, Melissa and Greg down. I should have been there to give you hope that you’d win the competition. Instead, I was safe in my bed on that horrible day you left us. We are all still trying to cope with your loss and we all miss you very much. I’ll never forget the day before you left. Mr. Miller told you guys that if he fell asleep, not to wake him up. After class I told you to go to CVS, get some makeup and give Mr. Miller a makeover so he would look pretty for customs. You laughed so hard and it made me feel good inside. It still seems like yesterday that I walked out of class thinking that it would be great to get to know you better. I would like to thank you for being you. You have left a footprint in the hearts of everyone who ever knew you, and also many who didn’t.
Steve, I love you. I will never forget your beautiful smile or your Hawaiian shirt or the joy that just filled the space around you. I will tell your story to anyone willing to hear. You are an inspiration to more people than you can imagine. I think about you and all the others who have joined you and remember all the good times we’ve had. I will always carry my memories of you in my heart.
All my love, Sami
To the Steve Gildden Foundation,
My name is Sami. I’m 13 years old and am proud to have been a part of the Oak Hill Middle School Band. Unfortunately, I only started getting to know Steve near the end of his life. The little I know about him first hand, and the dozens of stories I’ve heard, have made me realize what an amazing person he was. I am so lucky that I was able to share a few laughs and listen to his renditions of the Canadian National Anthem. If only I knew the words, then I would teach them to him. His outgoing personality, individuality, and unending amount of respect, generosity and kindness towards others always put a smile on my face. His spirit has changed my life, and that of countless others as well. This brings me to the reason I’m writing this letter. Enclosed is $15 which I know is not much, but is the best I could do. I’m truly sorry I don’t have more to give. Because of this, I would like to find out any other way I can help. I believe this foundation is a great way to remember an incredible person. It is also an act of “Tikkun Olam,” which is a great mitzvah.
September 19, 2001
I miss u so much and i love u and miss u i hope u are ok
Sept 27, 2001
My name is Emily and Steve was one of my really close friends… Even though I only was friends with him for a very short period of time he probably made the biggest impact on my life of anyone I have ever known and probably ever will know. We quickly discovered that we had likes of some of the same things, like shrimp and frozen Gatorade. At the funeral when this foundation was discussed I knew immediately that I would like to do something to help. I had my bat mitzvah on June 2nd 2001 and sure enough Steve was invited and his memory was there. I included him and my other friend Joi Fonfield who passed a month earlier in my bat mitzvah speech since they both mean so much to me. On my bat mitzvah day I truly felt like there was something missing and when I came to that part in my speech I started crying and couldn’t read the page. I really wish there was something I could do or say to make this better but I know how you must feel and I know that I can’t. So even though you don’t know me and probably have never heard of me I just wanted to let you know that I think about him every day and I want to help this foundation help others like Steve would have in any way I can. I think that this is a beautiful thing that you are doing for the memory of a beautiful person.
Sept 27, 2001
My name is Rachael… I was one of Steve’s good friends… We met at the Shul-In. Steve was an outstanding person… After the shul-in i talked with him on the phone and on email. Every time we talked we got closer. Steve was one of those people who instantly had a place in your heart. When I got Steve’s bar mitzvah invitation I was so excited that he thought of me in the busy process of a bar mitzvah. Steve, of course, was going to be invited to my bat mitzvah. I also knew Kayla Rosenberg – I knew her from camp. When I lost these two friends i felt like a piece of my heart was yanked out. In my bat mitzvah speech I have written a paragraph about Steve and one about Kayla. Both of these wonderful people have made a strong impact on my life. Thank you for constructing this beautiful website.
Sept 29, 2001
Hi, my name is Elissa. I was one of Steve’s close friends… The website was a wonderful tribute to a wonderful person. I met Steve at the annual Shul-in. From the first moment that we spoke, I fell in love with him. He was a beautiful person. You must have seen that. He had so many friends who cared about him so very much. We became really close friends, and I soon found out that we had the same birthday. I thought that we were soulmates – that it was fate that we met. Soon my Bat-Mitzvah came around, on our birthday, and I thought that I had to invite him. I thought that it would be so cool if my friends could meet him. I told them so much about him, and they were so eager to meet him. Unfortunately, he never lived to be thirteen. But on our birthday, I remembered him. I spoke about him in my Bat-Mitzvah speech. I really wished that he could have been there… It was a great honor to have known Steve… Thank you for bringing Steve into this world. He had a great impact on many, even if some only knew him for a short couple of months. My prayers continue to be with you and your family.
I wanted to leave a message on the website that you have made. My family and I plan on coming to the Windsor Club on December 1, but I just wanted to write your family a note. I didn’t really know your son Steve, but it absolutely broke my heart when I saw his face on the news that tragic day last year. I met him only once, at the BU Beanpot game last winter. I knew that Dan, a friend of mine and a fellow BU hockey fan (and Steve’s brother), would be at the game. So I searched the crowd, and a couple sections over I spotted Dan’s spiky hair. My friend Elana and I walked to his section and I almost stopped in my tracks when I saw a mini version of Dan – it was Steve. Dan came down and introduced us, and I was so very pleased with Steve’s vibrant BU spirit. When Dan, Elana, and I went to buy food, Dan made sure he had enough money to buy his brother a soda, even though he didn’t even ask for one, because Dan knew he’d like it. Dan came to sit with my family for a few minutes (my dad, a BU professor and a huge hockey fan has season tickets), and noticed a few “GO TERRIERS” signs by my feet. He asked for one, not for himself, but for Steve. After that he returned to his seats and I didn’t see them afterwards, but I couldn’t help but be inspired by the love Dan had for his brother. I have always known that Dan is a sweetheart, but at that game I could see it.
The media covered the bus accident for weeks, and I was reading an article one day that described Steve’s room, and mentioned that there was a red “GO TERRIERS” sign in his room. Again, I cried for Steve, Dan, and your family. No, I didn’t really know Steve, I had only met him once. But from the website, people close to him, and especially from watching Dan and Steve’s relationship if only for a brief time, I realize what a horrible loss this is. I don’t really know why I chose to write this email, or to tell you about the only time I met Steve. I hope I have not caused you any more pain by telling you this little story, I just wanted to let you know what a wonderful family you must have. Steve’s memory will be kept alive through the foundation, BU Hockey, friends, and family. I feel as though I knew him well – perhaps because I see part of Dan when I look at the picture of Steve’s smiling face. If there is anything that I can do to help this foundation, please let me know. Your strength is admirable, and any assistance that may be needed, I will gladly partake in. My sympathies and prayers are always with you and your family.
I would like to share a memory of Steve. The day before the accident, my mom was driving me into school as usual. In the car ahead of us was you and Steve. I watched you two chatter a little bit and I saw him kiss you on the cheek. As he got out of the car, my mom said, “Look at that boy with the stupid hair!” I replied that it wasn’t stupid somewhat angrily. I got out of the car and walked behind him to school. We didn’t talk, but I remember I kept thinking what a sweet boy he must be. That is my defining memory of Steve.
(from a friend who wishes to remain anonymous)