by Debbonnaire Kovacs

By Corienne Montgomery Hay
Submitted August 6, 2014
Steve Bradford was a student at Mount Vernon Academy, in Ohio, in the early 1970s. He was deeply religious (and sometimes misunderstood by other students for it) and it wasn’t uncommon for him to be speaking of spiritual things. One night, in the boys’ dorm, he was talking about the imminence of Christ’s coming to some other boys. Then he got on his bike to go home—very nearby—and was hit by a car and killed instantly. The impact on the academy students may be imagined. Corienne Montgomery Hay, mother of another student, wrote this poem for Steve’s family.
“It won’t be long,” Steve told his friend,
“Christ’s coming soon will be.
“We must be strong; must watch and pray.
“He’ll come for you and me.”
And then he bid his friend goodnight.
Into the dark he went.
It wasn’t long—for him, right then
his time on earth was spent.
They’ll miss him now, his friends at school,
                his greetings and his face;
And sometimes turn and half expect
                to see him in his place.
They’ll miss him when they catch a glimpse
                of red against the sky,
Remembering the many times
                Steve raised the flag on high.
The bells he tolled so oft before,
                like funeral bells now sound,
Reminding all who hear their peals
                that he’s no more around.
The speakers, too, the mikes and things
                in use from day to day,
Will bring him back to many minds,
                although he’s gone away.
His family, Lord, how hard for them—
                his sisters, mom, and dad—
How doubly hard the loss for them,
                the only boy they had.
Their own, now gone, no more to be
                a joy about the home.
No more his voice, his hands, his face,
his presence in the room.
Ah, God, please brace his father now,
and help his mother, too.
So many things about the house—
a book, a rock, a shoe—
Will stab their hearts with sudden pain,
                reminding them he’s gone.
Life will not be the same for them,
                and yet life must go on.
How many times in days to come
                will one girl or the other
Call out his name, and then recall.
                she cannot reach her brother.
Oh, help us all get through this time,
                his family and his friends;
For Thy strength, Lord, does but begin
                where human vigor ends.
So pour on us like soothing balm
                across the grief and pain
The words he spoke: “It won’t be long.”
                We can see Steve again.
It won’t be long—oh, no, not long
                Christ’s coming is so near.
We must be strong; must watch and pray.
                It won’t be long—take cheer.
October 2, 1971