My father left a message on my answering machine the other day: "Ed died. My best friend is gone."
Ed and my father met in the second grade. They were friends for 78 years. Yesterday, at Ed's funeral at a church in San Leandro, my father related the story about first meeting his friend: "Ed was always a big guy, and I was a little guy. So at school, on the first day, I saw this big guy. I thought, hey, he could protect me. I went over to talk to him, and we hit it off right away, just started being friends. A favorite game we played as kids was King of the Mountain. I was never able to win at that game, but after I met Ed, I won. With Ed, I was King of the Mountain."
Ed's funeral was a gorgeous celebration of his life. He was a loving man and dearly beloved. He was also an excellent dancer. At age 58, Ed and his wife Marilyn took up tap dancing and performed together. Music was a huge part of his life. When I was a kid, I danced with Ed during our great summer times at the cabin in Russian River. He made you feel like you could really dance. Ed was a baker and owned the Angel Kakery Bakery in San Leandro for many years, his family business. He baked the best cookies and brought boxes of them to Russian River.
The minister said he would always remember these words from Ed: "If we didn't love, it wouldn't hurt."
My father's voice broke at the end of his tribute, "Ed was like a brother, and I will miss him."
A friendship that lasts for 78 years is an amazing gift. My longest friendship has been with my two sisters, 40 and 56 years, and with my buddy Maureen, 34 years. With them, and other friends, too, I feel like I'm King of the Mountain.
The minister read Psalm 23, "...even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." He had an interesting interpretation: the shadow of death, meaning that death is an illusion, a shadow.
"Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever."
All the days of life, even in death. Goodness and love will follow us there.
For the first time, at Ed's funeral, I understood Psalm 23.
My father's face was shining with love when I saw him in the reception room, his eyes brimming with grief.
I hugged his 85-year-old "little guy" body to me.
If we didn't love, it wouldn't hurt.
Causes Susan Browne Supports
Run Together, A Race to Raise Money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society