by Brandon

Gonna really let my nerd show, but I don’t care…

A couple decades ago, when I was a very young man working at a fast food restaurant, some coworkers and I started hanging out after hours and just nerding out over everything from superheroes to Star Trek.

There was one subject, however, that was discussed far more than any other…

Star Wars.

We all loved Star Wars.

In fact, we all loved Star Wars so much that we started playing the Star Wars roleplaying game. This game was basically like the old Dungeons and Dragons table-top RPG, except it took place in the Star Wars universe.

During the next couple of years, we had many adventures in that galaxy far, far away. I usually ran the games, while the others created characters and played those characters in the “campaigns” I developed.

And I gotta admit, those were some of the most fun years of my life.

Every night, we all would work hard to close down the kitchen, then we’d gather in the dining room and have some grand adventure in the Star Wars galaxy. I know it sounds ridiculous, and really… it was… but it was also fantastic. We were all young adults, but we didn’t care how nerdy it was. We had a blast fighting Stormtroopers or sabotaging some secret Imperial base or getting into epic lightsaber duels with Sith Lords.

Our only restriction was our collective imagination.

Eventually, our time together became more than just some silly Star Wars game. It became our “third place.”

I’m not sure where I first heard about the concept of a “third place,” but I think about it often.

To explain, the first place is home. The second place is work. And the “third place” is somewhere people go to just relax, unwind, and have fun. For many people, the third place is a bar or a diner. For us, it was our Star Wars gaming sessions.

Many friendships were born during those days,  and several of those friendships have lasted until this very day.

One of those friendships is one I developed with a young man named Sturg. Of course, Sturg wasn’t his real name. It was a nickname, but it’s what we all knew him as.

Sturg was definitely a big guy, but the size of his body was dwarfed by the size of his heart. He loved Star Wars, he loved hanging out with his friends, and he loved to laugh. He quickly became the most dedicated adventurer in the group. He never missed a get-together, and he always did whatever he could to help make our adventures more fun.

During those days, I got fairly close to Sturg. He and I would occasionally hang around after our other friends had gone home, and we would just talk about life.

And I can honestly say that Sturg was one of the kindest men I’ve ever known. He loved without restraint, he was honest to a fault, and he always gave a kind word when it was needed. He also never hesitated to call people out on their bullshit, which is something I definitely respect.

Eventually, of course, we all moved on with our lives. Some of us finished college… others found new jobs. You know how it goes.

And for a while, I lost touch with Sturg, but I thought about him often… especially whenever Star Wars was involved.

Eventually (thanks to Facebook) I was able to reconnect with Sturg. We “friended” each other and chatted every now and then. I was tickled to discover he was still playing that old Star Wars RPG… only now, he was running the games. Every so often, he’d send me a private message, asking for my opinion on some adventure he was working up.

It was nice getting to know Sturg again. He reminded me of a time in my life when things were simple. A time when fun was our primary goal in life. A time when friendship meant so much more than it means today. As an adult, friends are great, but when you’re in your early twenties… friends are everything and friendship was pretty much the most powerful force in the universe.

And Sturg, of course, was the same 0l’ Sturg. I quickly found out that he still loved without restraint, he was still honest to a fault, he still spoke out against bullshit, he still used language that would make a sailor blush, and he still genuinely cared about the feelings of those around him. I was also happy to discover that he had a wonderful wife and a wonderful little girl.

So yeah… I was happy to see that Sturg finally had the life he deserved.

Even though I hadn’t seen Sturg personally for about 20 years, I felt (thanks to Facebook) like I knew him again, and it felt good… because Sturg was… well, he was just fun to know.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, Sturg passed away this morning. I don’t know the details. I’ve only seen the post from his wife that he’s gone. No matter the reason, I can tell you, he passed away too soon. I don’t know how old he was exactly, but I’m sure he was still in his 30s.

But while his passing did inspire this blog, it’s not what this blog is about.

This blog is about Sturg. At the very least, it’s about Sturg through my lens.

To be honest, Sturg was the kind of guy who was occasionally taken advantage of. He gave his love so freely that it was easy for others to take that love for granted. But that didn’t stop him from continuing to give that love. Sturg loved his friends and his family without an ounce of restraint.

I think Sturg understood how cruel and mean the world could be, and I think he understood it better than most of us. Like I said earlier, he was a big guy, and he did sometimes catch hell for that.

But he didn’t let the asshats of the world take away his kindness. He stubbornly remained a loving, kind man, and he didn’t let the mean people take that away from him.

As I think about Sturg today, I think he was probably far stronger than most of us, because he knew exactly how mean the world could be, and yet – despite that – he still loved without restraint. He still trusted his friends. He still enjoyed the little things.

Put simply, Sturg didn’t let the mean people of the world take the joy out of his life.

He chose to love, despite the harshness of the world. He chose to laugh, despite the people out there who seemed to thrive on taking away other people’s smiles. He chose to be a kind person, despite the people who were mean to him.

And now… as I process the horrible news I just read about him… as I cry for his beautiful wife and daughter…

I feel compelled to let the world know that he existed. I feel compelled to say I’m a better man because I knew Sturg.

Because, when it comes right down to it, Sturg understood what matters… and he understood it better than most of us ever will.

Even though I haven’t seen him in years, I’m going to miss him terribly.

Thank you, Sturg.

Thanks for the laughs. Thanks for the adventures. Thanks for the fun. And thanks for the love.

And thank you, Sturg, for showing us what strength really is.


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