One of the BestI have started and restarted this post more times than I can count. How does one write a tribute to a beloved friend when the words won't come? I am just sad, my heart is heavy with grief, and the tears continue to come and go.
On Friday we heard the news that our dear friend, Ed, had passed in his sleep. It was completely unexpected and a total shock to all of us.
Ed was more than just a family friend, he was the pastor of my childhood church. We walked in the doors of that church when I was just six years old and stayed for 12+ years. Pastor Ed and his wife were the same age as my parents, their oldest son was my age, their second son fell between Christine and Allison, and their baby girl arrived the same year Courtney did. His wife, Donna, and my mom became best friends. I can't even begin to describe how many times we got together with them outside of church. Their family was so intricately intertwined with mine during those years; they seem to always be in the background of my memories.
How does one even begin to describe Ed? He was larger than life, enveloping everyone in huge hugs. Hugs that spoke of how much he cared for you, hugs that brought comfort and strength, hugs that showed the depth of love he had for people. No matter where I ran into Ed throughout the city, ball games, grocery stores, movies, or restaurants, I could count on being on the receiving end of one of his bone-crushing hugs. I'm going to miss those hugs.
Ed and Donna have been there for my family in so many ways. During the hard seven years our family went through, I remember the nights they showed up to pray with us, to offer support. When Alli went through her eating disorder, they came alongside us with emotional, spiritual, and financial support. When Mom was in the hospital last year, they were always visiting and bringing her encouragement. He has always been there, steadfast in his love for family, friends, and people in general.
We grew up alongside their children; Jeremy, the oldest, married one of my good friends. I was blessed to be a bridesmaid at their wedding. As Jill walked down the aisle to be joined with Jeremy, I looked at Ed. There he stood, so tall and proud, and I could tell he felt so honored to be officiating his oldest son's wedding. It was a tender ceremony. The same could be said about Grant's wedding to Jennifer. Beautiful, poignant, and special.
And now, in one moment, he's gone. And it hurts. It hurts to know I'll never get to see that big, wide, infectious smile again. That those hugs will never be again. But what truly hurts the most? Its seeing the pain in his children's eyes; thinking how Donna must be feeling; knowing that Amy will not get to walk on her father's arm down the aisle someday; of how upset Jill and Jennifer are that their daughters will not get to know their grandfather. I hurt for them. I especially wonder how everyone will fare when shock has worn off and their new reality sets in.
Today we went back to our old church, the church that Ed pastored. It felt right to be there, a mini-memorial service of sorts. As people got up one by one to share memories of Ed, they flipped through my mind like a rolodex. Of being baptized by Ed, of Broncos-Raiders football games, of double-dating to prom with Jill and Jeremy, of dinners and church functions and of strength. He was one of the greatest this earth had to offer and he will be greatly missed.
After the service was over and my children had been retrieved from their classes, we stood there hugging old friends and offering support and encouragement in whatever way we could. In the back of my mind I could hear the sound of running feet and soft shrieks of laughter and it registered as I turned to watch my children running around the sanctuary, not a care in the world, that it was the sounds all too similar of my own childhood in that same church. I watched as Jeremy's own girls join in on the carefree play, and wondered at how life certainly had come full circle. From the days that Jeremy and I raced around the sanctuary, to watching our own children chase each other. There's a legacy in that; a legacy that could only be born of one man with a desire for God and His people. He will be greatly missed!