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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.