Resting

I don’t fall in love lightly. I loved my high school sweetheart really and well until we grew up and away to different sources of light. I loved the father of my children. I love my husband now and forever.  And I loved one other man. It was during the fifteen years that I was a single parent. He was very, very tall and impossibly good of heart. For whatever reason he got a body that did not serve him well in life. He was frighteningly asthmatic. Although he had a degree from the University of Michigan and he was smarter than just about anyone, he was never gainfully employed except for a brief stint as the night clerk at the local Hilton Hotel; he was relieved of his duties there when it was discovered that he was whimsically assigning hotel guests luxury suites or dingy rooms according to his mood.

This man was ill equipped for day-to-day life. Incorrigibly late, chronically dissatisfied and overwhelmingly distracted by minutiae, he most closely resembled the main character in As Good As It Gets. He was the personification of dysfunctional. And yet.

Ed was funnier, smarter, and more decent than most. I was fortunate, I would say blessed, to love him and be loved by him. Although he never married, more good women fell hopelessly, truly in love with him than any other man I know. And when it became clear that to love him was to drown with him and you bailed because that was your only salvation, you continued to love him and care about him and want to help him. And you continued to be his friend. And even in those times when it became too difficult to actively be his friend you continued to hold him in your heart.

I spent a significant part of five years trying to get Ed organized around his health care and treatment for his asthma. He would miss or be two hours late for every doctor’s appointment, engage in battle with the front office clerk and be off in search of another physician. He only treated critical symptoms and never was there an ounce of prevention. Because he was so chronically late he was also chronically rushing and breathless. He actually missed most planes when he was scheduled to fly.

Four times I found him blue and wheezing, unable to breath and four times I had to call EMS to come take him to the hospital. After the third I told him that I could not care more about his health or love him more than he did himself and if I had to call again he was on his own. And so, when I found him again, eyes rolling back, lips blue and chest heaving, I called 911, followed the ambulance to the emergency room, cared for him for a week and left him.

That was six years ago. For a year it was too painful to talk and the best I could do was leave Christmas dinner and a stocking filled with quirky whirligigs and hand knit scarves on his porch. Then we passed phone messages for a few months and then we became friends. He started coming again to my son’s concerts and giving me advice on how to raise T.D. I would get him Ventolin inhalers in Central America, where they are both non-prescription and inexpensive and I would pass on perfectly good computer equipment that would, without fail, seize up and die within four minutes of moving to Ed’s house. He endured my ability to recover and fall in love again and my marriage. I endured his continuous predicaments and wheezing phone calls.

I want to be absolutely clear that I did not love Ed because he was in need of repair. He was not one of my injured birds. I loved him because of the person he was even though that was doomed to failure.  I loved Ed because he refused to pay for his mother’s funeral expenses when the funeral director refused to reprint her mass cards with the correct date of birth and spelling of her name, even though that failure to pay was doomed to failure. I loved Ed because he cared, hands on, for his brother in the year before he finally died of AIDS, another mission doomed. Although he was executor for both estates, he didn’t have the stamina to execute them and both fell into bureaucratic chaos, which lingers to this day.

In a tightly woven Hungarian family, Ed lost his brother, his father a month later and his mother soon after,two choosing to die on Ed’s birthday.  Ed celebrated the “death season.”

In the midst of a life of quicksand and loss, Ed laughed and loved and mocked life’s ironies with gentle good humor. His passion for music superseded any I have known. He would do, quite literally, anything to help a friend.

This morning the police called after finding my name on Ed’s speed dial. They wanted to know if I knew the name of his dentist because his body was found in his bed so badly decomposed it will take dental records to identify him. I said, for lack of anything else, “he was 6’6”.“  The kind detective said,  “That helps.”

Here is my hope and prayer: Ed is reunited with his brother and parents and they are whole again, where he no longer gasps for earthly air. He will be remembered by his friends and lovers as one of life’s finer and more remarkable characters.

I’ll only be here intermittently over the next days.

24 responses to “Resting

  1. Vicki, I am so sorry for your loss. Every friend is a special blessing, every friendship is precious and the loss of a friend hurts deeply. Such a beautiful tribute to an obviously wonderful friend.

  2. I can’t think of a thing to say that would make this any better. Give Rich a hug.

  3. I’m so sorry. He sounds like a person well worth knowing, faults and all. There are some people in this world who inspire love, he seemed to be one of them. Hugs to you.

  4. Oh, Vicki, I’m so sorry. You and yours will be in my thoughts…

  5. That was a tender tribute, Vicki! May Ed rest in Peace. Prayers for you!

    “Earth is a desert drear
    Heaven is my home.”
    Arthur Sullivan (of Gilbert and Sullivan)

  6. What a beautiful remembrance of your friend. I discovered a death of a friend several years ago in an unexpected way (not the same as you described, but totally out of the blue and shocking). It took a long time to blur that in my memory. I had to focus on the things I loved about him – much like you have done in this lovely post.

    I’m sorry for your loss.

  7. Vicki, how awful for you. Ed was generous and wise and funny and honest. I am so sorry to hear of this loss.

    love you,

    Bets

  8. Oh Vicki, I’m so sorry. I hope you can feel this big hug I’m aiming your general direction.

  9. Your generosity never fails to surprise me. Thank you for sharing your grief with us and your sweet remembrance of your remarkable friend.

    You honor us all with your incredible capacity for love.

  10. A very loving memory -I am sorry for your loss.

    I am very late in thanking you for your visit to my journal. I have been suffering from the all day long morning sickness that makes it impossible to do much of anything. Thankfully that is over and I can come here and visit you.

  11. I was lucky to have been able to hear about Ed last week around the campfire. We did not know then that that was a wake of sorts, but I think he would have approved.

    I am so sorry, hon. Big hugs.

  12. I am so sorry for your loss.

  13. All these comments say everything so perfectly after reading such a great post. It was a touching tribute to such a wonderful human being. You’re lucky to have known, to have loved, such a person and I am certain he felt the same for you. My heart is with you my friend and I am sorry for your loss, although he is most certainly in a better place now without any suffering.

  14. Vicki, what a sad way for you to find out about Ed’s death. I’m so sorry.

  15. Vicki, this was a beautiful tribute to your very dear friend. An incredible remembrance. I’m so sorry for your loss. You were both lucky to have had each other. I’m certain he was grateful for your friendship and love. Take care, dear.

  16. oh vicki, i am so sorry for your loss. I hope that Ed is in a better place now and is happier. I’ll keep him in my thoughts and prayers.

  17. I heard you tell the Ed story live and in person last week and you told it with the same grace and love as you told it now. He was as lucky to have known you as you were to have known him.

    So sorry for your loss.

  18. Grieve fully, V., and live. Thinking of you.

  19. What a beautiful tribute to a complicated and lovely man. I’m so sorry for your loss. *big hugs*

  20. Oh Vicki, once again your writing took my breath away and made my heart skip a beat.

    My deepest sympathies for your loss.

  21. Vicki… I am SO SORRY for your loss. I am hoping that writing this beautiful tribute to the life of this man you once loved has helped you through, somewhat. And I agree that your husband is a gem for understanding your need to grieve this loss. I often wonder what it would have been like for me during the illness and death of my son’s dad, if I had remarried or were in a serious relationship and that person did NOT understand my need to be with the father of my child in his last moments. Relationships are complex…you are blessed to be with someone who understands that.

  22. I am so sorry for your loss, Vicki.

  23. If words help us pay tribute to those we’ve loved and lost, then your Ed just received one incredible tribute. Stunning rememberance, beautifully rendered.

    It sounds as if your life was richer for having known him – and I’m betting he’d have said the same in return.

  24. I’m really impressed together with your writing talents as smartly with the layout for your weblog. Is this a paid subject matter or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up the nice high quality writing, it’s uncommon to see a nice weblog like this one these days.

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