Memorial to Erik

I can’t believe it’s already been a month since my friend Erik passed away. He was a vibrant part of our friends group, and the long-time boyfriend/fiancé of one of my best friends.

On the one-month anniversary of his death, I wanted to share the eulogy I wrote for his wake. It was, perhaps, the hardest speech I’ve ever given, but I’m so glad I did it. It represented just a fraction of what Erik meant to all of us; he was a constant source of laughter and encouragement–and, truly, he still is. Writing this brought me a sense of peace, and I hope hearing/reading it brings peace to others, too.

Our friends group on New Year’s Eve 2013-4. Read on for Erik’s NYE sauerkraut story. Clockwise from left: Kara, Erik, Megan, Lindsey, me, Jennifer, Warren, and Jeremiah

Memorial to Erik

I’d like to share a couple of memories with you about Erik. His girlfriend is one of my best friends, and so he quickly became part of our group of friends.

It goes without saying that Erik left us too soon. But if we measure lives in memories instead of years, Erik lived a fuller life than many people ever will, with the impression he left on all of us. In this way, he will never be gone, for he certainly is not someone you’re likely to forget. Erik taught us how to enjoy every moment—can you ever remember him not smiling? He made everyone he came into contact with feel important and interesting—that your place in this world is valid. That even if you don’t know where you’re going yet, it’s OK, because life is just as much about celebrating the journey as it is the milestones themselves.

There are so many things I’ll remember and miss about Erik. Most of all, I’ll miss his kindness—he was always there to help anyone who needed it. I’ll also miss how he could make anyone laugh, through his quirky sense of humor or his astonishing repertoire of accents. Two memories in particular stand out for me, ones I feel are representative of him overall—and I’d like to share them with you.

The first one is small, but I’ve never forgotten it. A few years ago, our group of friends went to the Bristol Renaissance Faire. The highlight of the day was the big joust, so there was a huge crowd of people, and you were lucky to be able to see anything. We finally found a spot, on the slope of a hill, where we could see if we stood on our tip-toes. At one point, I lost my balance and stumbled a little bit, and Erik caught me and switched places with me. He was cheering for the knights just a moment ago, and I don’t know how he even saw me out of the corner of his eye, but that was Erik—always there to help you before you even knew you needed it, no matter what else was going on in his own life. And if he could ease your pain and take it onto himself, he would do that in a heartbeat. If I know Erik, this is only going to be more true now that he’s in Heaven.

The second memory is one of my fondest and most recent. On this last New Year’s Eve, Erik brought over a large jar of sauerkraut to Lindsey’s party. He insisted a healthy pinch of it would bring us good luck in the new year. “It’s a Czech tradition,” he said. Now, sauerkraut had never been a particular craving of any of ours, but we weren’t about to turn down a bite of good luck.
It was such a funny thing to do, all eight of us eating sauerkraut at midnight, but that was just like Erik to share any good luck charm he’d found with the world.

Erik, we are raising our sauerkraut and our glasses to you in Heaven. This is just another part of the journey, and we hope you’re enjoying it as much as all the parts that came before. I know you’re preparing a fresh set of jokes for us until we meet again. Thanks for the memories—in those and in our love for you, you will always be with us.

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