Eddie and I go back a long ways. As many know, we’re first cousins born a month apart 56 or so years ago in Madrid, Spain and we in essence grew up together, off and on, through and up to our adolescent years. There were many memories made and I thought it’d be great to honor Eddie by sharing just a few of them from long ago and then briefly sharing more poignant memories made within the last few months.
I suspect many of us are familiar with the Charlie Bit Me viral YouTube video that took the Internet by storm a number of years ago.
Well, legendary stories have been told over the years at our family gatherings of the Eddie Bit Me saga that took place when we were both infants. He and I of course were spared any personal memories of this as we were far too young but to our chagrin, family members have repeated the story often enough. In the Charlie Bit Me series, the older brother was bit on the finger and cried out in pain repeatedly while Charlie giggled with delight. In the Eddie Bit Me story, one that unfolded as we were both placed within close proximity to each other on a blanket, I understand that I too cried out in great pain while Eddie, like Charlie, giggled at the aftermath. Of course there were key differences in the two incidents.
One, there was no video of our event, thank the good Lord… two, unlike Charlie’s big brother, I had to be taken to the hospital and three, it wasn’t any fingers or any toes that Eddie got a hold of. And right there I think is where we’ll leave that particular memory.
Fast forward maybe 8 or 9 years or so to a couple of quick memories involving sports. We both lived in Alexandria at the time and played on the same Little League baseball team. I still have newspaper clippings of those outings that were published in the local paper, to include one game where I was yanked by the coach while in the middle of pitching a no-hitter because he wanted to save me for a big game later in the week. The neat thing was that Eddie was brought in to relieve me and though we didn’t combine for a no-hitter, we did win the game.
Later we tried out for Pee Wee football together, again on the same team and what I remember most about that tryout was that Eddie developed an issue late during practice where he could not get his helmet off his head… turned out it was because he had somehow developed cauliflower ear… the poor guy needed two or three adults to help him get the helmet off which, once removed, scared the heck out of the rest of us as his ear had nearly tripled in size and looked horrible. I can’t recall with certainty but I think we both called it quits for football that season after experiencing that level of trauma.
As fond as those memories are and as much as I’ll cherish them, it’s what took place more recently that will always have special meaning for me personally. We were all struck by Eddie’s strength and character as he served as Diane’s caregiver during her health battles. And we marveled again at his strength and character when he was diagnosed in April and faced his own fight with this dreaded and God-awful disease but what struck me the most was near the end of Eddie’s fight, when he displayed in my view a deep inner strength by realizing and acknowledging that he needed God’s help. Eddie, having been raised Catholic, had talked to a number of us about being visited by a priest and just a few days before he passed, a priest from nearby St. Luke’s Catholic Church was able to see him, a priest who ministered to Eddie by offering him three of the Church’s beautiful Sacraments, the Sacrament of Reconciliation also known as Confession where great dollops of grace are doled out in the form of mercy and forgiveness; the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick where grace can be dispensed in the form of spiritual strength and inner healing; and of course the Sacrament of Holy Communion, where the bread and wine are miraculously transformed into the Real Presence, the body and blood of Christ and for Eddie on this particular day, the Eucharist became food for his journey home. These Sacraments are defined by the Church, as “efficacious signs of grace, instituted by Christ and entrusted to the Church, by which divine life is dispensed…”
Think on that for the briefest of moments.
The Sacraments are a means by which the Church dispenses divine life, through the mechanics of a priest who is acting in persona Christi or as the person of Christ. Each of the Sacraments give the grace they signify because the true minister is actually Jesus Christ. This for me is immensely powerful… and beautiful… and deep… and rich… and all the more reason why I am personally grateful I made the decision a few short years ago to return to my Catholic roots.
Though I wasn’t there that day, I heard later through family members that Eddie was moved by the experience and it’s that moving that I will hold on to as I think of Eddie now… and as I think of Eddie in the future, a man to whom I owe a great deal.
Eddie, may the angels lead you into paradise, may the martyrs welcome you in your coming, and may they guide you into the holy city Jerusalem. May the chorus of angels receive you and with Lazarus, once a poor man, may you have eternal rest.
And Cousin… pray for us!