In the early days of Daily Kos, when I was writing for dozens, maybe hundreds of people, I wrote mostly for myself. There was no expectation that Daily Kos or any other blog was more than just a side diversion for other, weightier matters.
When reporters ask me when I first started thinking Daily Kos would become something more important, I tell them about the Dean campaign, or about the traffic explosion during the run-up and start of the Iraq War.
But that's pretty much bullshit. Because the reality is much more mundane, much less sexy --
It was the arrival on the site's comment boards of two people -- Meteor Blades and Steve Gilliard.
They were a real revelation to me -- I couldn't believe that people like them, so brilliant, so insightful, so talented, would spend time at my little corner of the world. They inspired me to keep writing, keep building this place. Because if nothing else, I needed to make sure they had a platform upon which to speak.
So they ended up being two of the first contributing editors on Daily Kos. Steve, in fact, was the first person I ever approached with the "guest blogger" offer. And he didn't waste time getting started, drawing on history of the region and the British occupation of Iraq in the late 1910s to set the stage for what the US would soon face in Iraq. He was frighteningly prescient on Iraq, and it wasn't the only topic he would consistently nail. He was a credit to the progressive blogosphere.
Steve was a big personality, and it was clear he needed his own stage. And he got it with the News Blog, which he soon built into a full-time gig, still a rarity among bloggers. It was one of three sites I religiously checked more than three times a day.
If you knew Steve only from his blog, you'd think he was a pit bull. He was blunt, loud, aggressive, unafraid, and took no prisoners.
But you'd meet him in life, and he was the exact opposite. He was soft-spoken, shy, modest, calm, friendly, and -- this was the most surprising to me -- gentle.
I never would've gotten that from his writings. But that's what he was.
I'd known Steve five years -- just about my entire blogging existence. I don't know of a blogging life without him. He has been a friend, a confidant, a sounding board, a reality check, a loyal ally, a mentor. He was family.
And while that all came to an end Saturday morning, I'm still not ready to let it go.
We were blessed to have Steve as long we did. But I'm selfish. I wanted much, much more.