Lessons from Eddie
Timeless Wisdom from a Life Cut Too Short
Eddie, my awesome brother and very close friend, passed away ten days ago. He was working in his yard like any other Saturday, had chest pains later in the evening, and was gone by early morning. At 60, and in seemingly good health, his passing is shocking. We are still in disbelief, and absolutely heartbroken; a sorrow so raw that it hurts. I know that there’s a messy grief journey ahead, and I intend to walk it with all the depth, presence, and feeling I can muster.
There is so much that I want to share about Eddie, but it’s too soon. For now, I want to relay three of Eddie’s parting gifts as they resonate deeply with my beliefs about embracing midlife: 1) appreciating the unpredictability of time, 2) the value of releasing the past, and 3) the importance of having fun.
Eddie’s untimely death is a stark reminder that we never know how much time we have. True, midlife sharpens our awareness of the ticking clock. As we age and experience loss, we find it harder and harder to deny our mortality. Health scares and medical issues drive this reality home. And death – of a parent, a close friend, a cousin, a sibling, a spouse, even a child – confirms this reality.
Yet, even though we realize that we’re closer to the end than the beginning, most of us never fully accept how precarious our time is. Our mind does not want us to consider this. For me, Eddie’s unexpected passing seared this reality directly onto my heart. We. Never. Know. Or as my Zen teacher likes to say, “We are always skating on thin ice.” I am not raising this as a doomsday notion. Rather, I raise it as an urgent reminder for us to embrace the fact that time is a precious gift of unknown duration, and we cannot take it for granted.
Another gift that Eddie recently shared pertained to his journey of self-inquiry. One of his epiphanies was the need to discard outdated stories and beliefs. You know, the ones that are old, weigh a ton, and are mostly not even true. Eddie was fortunate to have recently dropped some of these outdated stories, and with his new found lightness, he engaged the present with more clarity and appreciation. I am so very happy Eddie did that, and that he felt the freedom and joy that came with their release. We all, myself included, carry unnecessary baggage. We know it and we even joke about it, yet we cling to them like a toxic relationship. Eddie’s untimely passing is a reminder (and incentive) to release our baggage sooner than later, and give ourselves the gift of joy and freedom that accompany it.
Lastly, Eddie had a lot of fun. He loved to fish, play trumpet, build ponds, ski, ride bikes, crack jokes and eat. A lot. He savored good wine, good food, good music and fun toys. And he loved sharing these goodies with others. Eddie had recently decided to work less and make more time for fun, giving himself an alternate 4-day work week. His “bonus Fridays” were special days to spend with his beloved wife Blayne. So, let’s make sure we have fun. And not wait. Because we just don’t know. We. Just. Don’t. Know.
In the community where I practice meditation, we end our evening meditation by chanting this verse: “Time swiftly passes by and with it our only chance. Each of us must aspire to awaken. Be Aware. Appreciate this precious life.” I have never felt the words so deeply as these past ten days.
This blog is dedicated to my beautiful brother Eddie who I love deeply, miss sorely and will forever carry in my heart.