I'm sorry to say that last Friday night, Steve Eastman passed away at Memorial Hospital after fighting brain cancer for almost three years. I knew Mr. Eastman through his son, Grant, who's been one of my closest friends since elementary school. I have been around the Eastman family for most of my entire life in New Hampshire, and I'd be hard pressed to find another mother, father, son, and daughter that care so much about each other and their community. I learned a lot about Mr. Eastman's life before I knew him when I read the passages in the Conway Daily Sun, but what I'd like to write about are the memories and feelings from my own experience.
I remember sitting around the kitchen table at the Eastman house after birthday parties, with Mr. Eastman always nudging me into having a second slice of cake or another scoop of ice cream. I remember sitting at that same table watching Grant and Emily laugh loudly at an out-of-place comment from Mr. Eastman, which most of the time flew right over my head. I remember working at the Eastman house, cutting and splitting wood for the winter. The work was a chore to most but a passion for Mr. Eastman. I remember stacking so much wood that day I thought we must have taken down an entire forest of California redwoods. I remember thinking, "how on earth could someone ever use this much wood in their entire life?" I remember asking Grant how long all of this wood would last and I remember his response, "Probably the whole winter." Probably?! Cutting and stacking wood was a family event for the Eastmans. It was a precise, organized operation. Every piece was cut perfectly in half to begin with, but Mr. Eastman had a knack for cutting it perfectly in quarters. I remember thinking, "If he puts this much effort into cutting and stacking his wood, it's no wonder why the Mountain Ear was always the superior local paper in the valley." I remember the shock and the twist I felt in my stomach when I heard about Mr. Eastman's cancer. I remember when the cancer went into remission and Mr. Eastman started to recover. I remember crying in my kitchen last summer after a phone call from Grant, when he told me his father was struggling and the outlook was bleak. I remember feeling better but still uneasy when he recovered from that as well. I remember when my Mom told me Sarah, Mrs. Eastman, had to stop working at Kennett to care for him. I remember two weeks ago when Grant told me his father was incapable of getting out of bed and was paralyzed on one side. I remember last Saturday morning, when I woke up and received a call from Grant about his father's passing. I remember pacing my house after the call. I remember trying to understand why this was his time, why this had to happen to two of my friends before they were even 21 years old.
I want to kick; I want to scream. It's unfair. It's not right. He was 58 years young. But it won't change. Mr. Eastman will still be gone in presence. But he will never be gone in spirit. I see Grant and Emily as strong, college-educated individuals who will go on to accomplish great things in their lives. I see Mr. Eastman's presence and spirit in them, helping them make difficult decisions throughout their lives. I see Grant working on a job with the same passion his father had for splitting wood. I see a family broken by the pain of his death but mended by the magnitude of his strength. I feel privileged to have known Mr. Eastman. He was truly a wonderful person. I will miss seeing him during my visits to the Eastman house. Rest in peace, sir.