Just a few weeks ago I lost one of my dearest friends. Eddy fought his battle with cancer with a great attitude, and with dignity and strength. And now I must find the strength to bear losing him.
Eddy and I were friends my entire life, and I cannot imagine a world without him. Our parents were dear friends, our families so close. His parents were my “aunt” and “uncle,” and even though we were not related, we were family. Eddy was the older brother I never had but always longed for. And I was his favorite among my siblings, although he only let me know that as an adult.
Eddy was my mentor at a time when I truly needed one. He kept me from leaving college when I so desperately wanted a break, by convincing me to study abroad instead, an experience that changed my life. He helped me select courses in school. At a time when my father and I were having trouble communicating, he ran interference between us. And when my depressions set in a few years later, he helped me find a good therapist. He was the sort of friend who always had time for me and never turned me away. And, although we lost touch for years, when we finally reconnected, it was as if no time had passed. We picked up just where we had left off with only a little catching up to do, and we became avid correspondents until the end of his life.
But all these thing don’t only tell you the sort of friend he was; they also tell you the sort of man he was. He was a powerhouse of loyalty and strength. He had one of the most inquisitive intellects I have ever encountered. He knew about so many areas – politics, psychology, music, engineering – to name just a few. He had a tenacious hunger for knowledge about things and people. And he fought his cancer with equal tenacity. Even though when he first told me about the cancer it had already metastasized, even though his doctors had given him a virtual “death sentence,” and even though, in his words, the treatments were a “crap shoot,” he and Mary, his life partner, were ready to fight with everything they had. And fight they did. The side effects of the treatments were excruciating, and he wrote to me about them. I asked him to share as much as he could, and he tried, but the pain defied his description.
In his last days, Eddy was intuitive enough to know when it was time to leave the hospital, time to go home, time to let the dogs lick his hands and feel the Arizona sun on his face. Time to sleep in his own bed. Mary arranged everything for him. It is a rare courage, love, and devotion, I think, between two people when one can do this for the other. Eddy lived only a few days at home, but long enough to have Mary and his daughters with him when he passed. It was a great gift they all gave each other.
I shall miss my friend forever. I will try somehow to bear it. Ezra Pound says it best in some of the last lines of his Exile’s Letter as he translated it from Li Po:
And if you ask how I regret that parting:
It is like flowers falling at Spring’s end
Confused,whirled in a tangle.
What is the use of talking, and there is no end of talking,
There is no end of things in the heart.
I call in the boy,
Have him sit on his knees here
To seal this,
And send it a thousand miles, thinking.
Emily was raised by extremely liberal parents in the lush and gorgeous Hudson Valley of New York where she was always in sight of inspiring mountains. Her formal education took her travelling all over the world at a youngish age and instilled in her a great love of different cultures and diversities, both tangible and philosophical. She has enjoyed
more than one profession, including that of being a chef, and has cooked for presidents and governors alike. She has lived in Alabama since 1989, though she longs for a cooler climate. Presently she resides in Sheffield, with her beloved husband, Tim, and two very old cats, and near her now-grown, delightful son, Dylan.
Photo credit: Laurel Heiss