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In Requiem - An Unsung Hero

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

DH's best friend died on Monday. He was the head of the trauma unit at Newark University Hospital (or some name like that) - his aorta ruptured, the drs worked on him for something like 9 hours, they repaired the rupture but couldn't get his heart to beat on its own.

He was 61 years old.

DH and Eric met in college, and were inseparable. They called each other "Sir" and "Beej" - Beej being the name they gave themselves after a coach called Eric the "big Jewish guy." They met each other's families, went to family events, were at each other's first and second weddings, visited back and forth. To an outsider, they seemed like middle-aged men laughing and reliving their college years. But there was so much more.

I've been reading obits. Eric had his medical degree from Yale, went back and got an MBA at Columbia. He was the head of the trauma department at a teaching hospital, so not only was he in surgery and saving lives, he was teaching doctors. He also became a state assemblyman, and sponsored all kinds of legislation dealing with abused kids, or stiffer sentences for drunk drivers - all kinds of legislation designed to make life better for people.

He also saved my husband's life - DH had a neurological infection that was in his brain, it took a while to figure out, and since we live in the USVI and our medical options are limited, DH and I flew up and Eric met us, took us to the hospital, checked in DH, and began testing. He also insisted on putting me up in a hotel nearby, paying for it, and gave me rides to/from the hospital every day. Every day for a week, until we knew what DH had and started him on medication. THAT is an exceptional friend. He also pulled political strings and got approval for DH and me to get married in NJ, since we were one month away from our wedding, and I was signing things as his "wife" anyway. Eric had his staff members help me with the paperwork, his secretary was ready to take me to find a dress, we were all set for a hospital wedding - but it didn't happen, we didn't have the papers from DH's divorce.

Eric would visit us - sometimes with his kids, sometimes alone. His wife would always be upset, because she thought the guys would be off partying. Actually, they sat and remembered their crazy youth, they ate too much, always picking up barbeque on the way from the airport. And mostly Eric would sleep - uninterrupted sleep - no emergencies, no phone calls, no kids needing something. Just sleep. Something that with his busy and hectic life, he never got enough of - and that was one thing he could get when he visited.

He was a remarkable man. Others in the state legislature have posted his praises online, or in the media. His staff adored him, and I know they are devastated - the woman who called DH said she's cried out.

Eric leaves behind 5 kids, ranging in age from HS to med school. And a lovely wife. I know they will miss him. Their lives will never be the same.

And my DH, who lost his mother in November, his aunt in February - now he has one more hole in his world. He and Eric talked every day. I know he will miss him terribly.

I feel for them all.

And Eric, I'll miss you too.

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