Wednesday, April 25, 2012

May You Live All The Days Of Your Life

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On Friday, my stepdad Eric - my little brother's dad - passed away from colorectal cancer. He was 44 years old.

This past week has been a really difficult and sad one for our family. I have so many memories of Eric, and it is just hard to believe that he's gone. It's hard to believe I can't just pick up the phone and talk to him, or that we'll take a boat ride around the lake the next time I am home in Indiana.

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You all may remember that in June of 2000, I was in a fire that burned down the house where I was living in San Francisco. I ended up driving back to Indiana with nothing more than the clothes on my back. I had lost every material possession I'd ever owned. I had a big collection of music (all on CD back then - we didn't have IPods yet), and all of my music was burned in the fire.

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Eric was a big music lover - probably the biggest lover of music I have ever known. A lot of people would say, "Oh that's too bad" about the fire and move on. A few might have bought me a CD or two to replenish my collection. But not Eric. Nope.

Do you know what Eric did? He copied hundreds of music CDs for me to replace what was lost in the fire. He replaced pretty much every CD I had in my music collection, and he also introduced me to lots of new music I'd never heard of before. He not only fixed what I was missing, he made it better. He didn't just go buy a bunch of music...he took the time to create a whole music library for me. It was a gift that took hours and hours of his precious time (days even?) - and he did it without blinking.

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It was thoughtful and unexpected. But if you knew Eric, then you know that he was the kind of person who went out of his way for other people all the time. He was the type of guy who would drop everything to be there for a friend. He was that friend in need (a friend, indeed).

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You know how some people wait until the end of their lives to live, only to discover it's too late? Well, that wasn't Eric. When you were with Eric, you knew that you were going to have the best time possible. Eric made every moment seem like an event.

Whether we were going to the Indy 500, or to a Colts game, or roadtripping along the California coast, Eric always had a way of figuring out how it could be the best experience possible, and then making it so. If you were going to ride a rollercoaster with Eric, you were going to ride in the front car. He never did anything 50% - he always made sure every little memory he made with you was one you'd tell stories about for years to come.

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I have enough memories of Eric to fill a hundred blog posts. He was my stepdad, and while our relationship was not perfect, he always treated me with so much respect and love. I have a hard time believing that he's gone. I don't understand cancer. He was too young, too vibrant, and had too much left to do for cancer to steal him away.

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He died two days after my little brother turned 17 years old. I know all our lives are brief in the big scheme of things, but it's just really hard for me to reconcile a boy losing his father so young. Especially a father who coached Little League and took his son to football games, and gave so much love to the people around him. A guy who was so full of life.

Eric truly lived all the days of his life. He squeezed every good moment from his life and truly lived with passion. Every time I want to take the middle seat on the rollercoaster, I will honor Eric by riding in the front car. He showed up...for people, and for life. I hope that at the end of our lives, we can all say the same. Miss you, Eric.

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9 comments:

mum2abby said...

I'm so sorry for your loss Erika. He sounds like an amazing man who has left many wonderful memories for y'all to cherish in the years to come.

Grandma~rella said...

Such a truly beautiful tribute, Erika...I am so sorry for your loss. Keeping you all in thought and prayer. (((HUGS)))

Susanne said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I will pray for you and your family.

Michelle L. said...

I read this from start to finish a few times. It's lovely. I've known Eric for 25 years. I am so grateful that I was able to spend time with him a lot last summer through this winter. There are so many memories from Dead shows and parties but my favorite memories now are of him being a devoted father. Thank you for sharing you pictures and words. They have been such a comfort.

I need a nap said...

Oh how sad for all of you. Wishing you strength as you cope with this loss and as you support your brother and others who loved him like you did. It will be a process, not an overnight thing, but knowing the wonderful legacy he left behind sure does help, doesn't it. All the best to you, Suzanne

Mimi said...

Oh so sad, I'm really very sorry for your loss, your family's loss. I'm sure you were looking forward to years of him getting to know your 3 girls, and they him.
Take care, this is a very difficult time for you. Thinking and praying for you. Your words are beautiful.

OTtraveller said...

Erika,
I am so sorry to hear about your loss. Eric seems to have had a very special gift and your words re-create those beautiful memories you have shared!
Silke

Mimi said...

Erika, I came back to tell you about this poem "The Dash", I think it will help you a lot. My Hubby lost his Dad at the same age as your brother, and it is hard for a boy to lose his Dad so young.
Take care.
p.s. you'll get "The Dash" on google

That's Interesting said...

Thinking about you guys and so sorry for your loss. You wrote a beautiful post and it is evident how much Eric meant to all of you.