Michael A. Cohen '98 had never met Deshaun or Harvard, but wishes he had.
At 1 p.m. on Friday, he walked up the steps of Memorial Church with more than 400 solemn, black-clad mourners to remember Deshaun R. Hill '99 and Harvard C. Nabrit Stephens '99.
For Cohen, just the idea of being a student at the same university as Hill and Stephens was reason enough for him to attend the service for them.
"I mean, it's hard to imagine that one minute someone could be just a regular Harvard student, and then, they're just gone," he said. "It's really horrible."
Two Promising Youths
The sense of loss was particularly great for the two students' friends and families, who recalled their lives with songs and remembrances at the memorial.
Nia C. Stephens '01, Harvard's younger sister, became choked up with emotion when she recalled a letter she had written to Harvard during the summer.
Stephens said she was just about to mail the letter when she received news of her brother's death.
"On the day of his death, it was lying on my desk, and it is lying there still," she said. "Perhaps one day, I'll have a son named Harvard, and I will give it to him."
Keith E. Bernard '99, who was a blockmate of Hill and Stephens in Claverly Hall, delivered a eulogy for Stephens.
"We thought we were going to be brothers for life," Bernard said. "Sometimes at night, I wonder whether he's disappointed and dismayed because we didn't make it."
Bernard, who is vice-president of the Black Men's Forum (BMF), was in BMF and the Spee final club along with Stephens.
Ian C. Hunt '99, who first met Hill when the two were first-year roommates in Massachusetts Hall and who also roomed with Hill in Claverly Hall last year, said he cannot believe he will never again see his friend.
"His life and my life were intertwined, and that's what caused me to see how much he meant in my life," Hunt said. "Most of the friends I have here, I met through Deshaun."
Taj J. Clayton '99, another blockmate of the duo, said that despite the sadness, he is able to derive joy from his memories of the good times they had together.