I’ve stepped out of my old self
Too heavy to carry that dead weight any longer
I must leave it behind
To tread the path that lays before me
A path that was chosen and laid
Not because I am able
But because it will require my true self to come alive
I wrote this the week before Ed passed away. And everything surrounding his passing, the conversations with friends and family, the reflections from Donna, Fr. J., and Stacy, Eddie, Mary, and Ali, has only magnified the emotions in this poem.
Ed was something beautiful. (I cried all through the processional hymn at the funeral Mass – “We praise you, Oh Lord, for all your works are wonderful.”) How can you not give thanks for knowing and encountering, for learning from such an incredible man how to live life to the full –that is, to fill everyone around you with such love. He lived—loved– well. My dad said of him, “I kind of always wanted to be Ed.” It’s been hard to describe my relationship with Ed Zeidler to other people, but I’ve always unconsciously thought, “I hope I marry someone like him someday.”
Best man to my dad at my parents’ wedding, Godfather to my oldest sister, cut-up tenor in my dad’s choir at Sunday Mass, even though my family has nicknamed him ‘Uncle Ed’ over the years, he’s really been more a second father figure in my life. I didn’t realize this until today when I was waiting for my order at Right Coast Pizza and “Daughters” by John Mayer came on.
“Fathers, be good to your daughters / Daughters will love like you do / Girls become lovers who turn into mothers / So mothers, be good to your daughters too.”
Booming laugh, big bear hugs, and ridiculous jokes. But what I remember most was that I always felt loved when I was around him. I grew up with a complete lack of confidence in myself, but he made me feel like a little princess, and I wasn’t even his real daughter. When I say a little princess I don’t mean like a spoiled little girl, but like an incredibly precious and beautiful pearl. I want my daughter(s) to feel the same way.
He taught me what a loving father and husband should look like. I couldn’t tell you exactly what he did in his work. I actually have no idea. But he was the rock of his family. He and Dona were still so much in love, even after 40 plus years of marriage, in love like teenagers. He was the coach for countless little league teams, and crafted dozens of doll houses and beds in his woodworking and carpentry shop, and he would drop anything for anyone in his family, or any friend for that matter.
I remember looking at family photos on their wall as I house-sat and dog-watched for the Zeidlers one summer and thinking, “I want to build a family like this one. I want to feel as loved as Dona does, and I want my kids to be as loved as Stacy, Eddie, Mary, and Ali are.”
But out of all the people that Ed loved, it was obvious that he loved God the most. And I can’t help but think that among the many words he’s heard since he left this earth, “Well done” was definitely among them. He competed well; he finished the race; he kept the faith. And he has laid down this imperfect life to pick up the beautiful and complete version of himself that God had in mind when He made Ed.
And all the more, I want to keep laying down and leaving behind these imperfect versions of myself so that I can keep becoming closer to the person God had in mind when He made me. It’s the best way I know how to honor Ed’s life.