If Steven Mendoza was looking down from on high, he would have been amazed at the outpouring of affection and sorrow expressed at his memorial service held at the Dixon Teen Center Saturday afternoon. He was one of the guys, one of the regular visitors at the teen center.
I estimate about 250 people attended the service. The interior of the Center was so full, people had to be seated outside in the plaza, and listened to loudspeakers placed there. Several women seated next to me had driven all the way from Roseville.
I was volunteering at the Teen Center the night he died, pulling duty at the sign-in desk. Even though I didn’t know Steven by name at the time, I saw him come in with several friends. As he was signing in, several teens came over to give him a big hug. As I recall, he didn’t stay very long. And then the next day I heard he died after he left the center that night. I remember him as one of the more quiet teens there, who seemed very level-headed.
Thirteen is too young to die.
Before the service, the coffin was open for viewing and many teens filed by to take a last look and say goodbye. Many notes were left on the outside of the coffin (or on paper placed on the outside of the coffin).
A simple song was sung by two women, with the refrain, “I’ll remember you, will you remember me?”
The first speaker was Pastor Frank Salamone of the Cornerstone Baptist Church, who said to the visitors, “Your presence speaks volumes; God is good. This is a tender hour but not an hour of tragedy. I’m here to talk about life.
“Steven knew how to be a friend.”
“Life is unfair” (but) “can you imagine how happy Steven must be now (in heaven)?”
Pastor Luis Rosales also spoke, partly in Spanish.
Then Jeff Meyers, Pastor at the Living Hope Church, and involved with the Teen Center, said of Steven, “You knew he was a good kid just by the way you related to him.” He told about Steven’s love of music, swimming and camping.
Then some of Steven’s male teen friends came forward together, saying variously, “We’ll miss him” and his smile. They told about Steven loving pizza and corn dogs. One said, “He just wanted to be like all of us – cool and happy.” His cousin said, “I love you Stevie.”
Another teen friend told about playing video games with Steven, relating that Steven “was one of the biggest parts of my childhood. He was a really positive person, and he loved his mom more than anyone else in the world.”
“Steven was always a good kid.”
Steven's interment was in Dixon's Silveyville cemetery.