Edward Lee Koslosky, Jr. (1967–2010)
Rest In Peace.

I don’t handle death too well, as it turns out.

Eleven years ago, one of my best friends almost lost his life to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which had up until then been undiagnosed in him. But even though at that time he was given a practically zero chance of survival, he pulled through, and for the next eleven years, he defied all odds to the contrary.

But when I got the message from our mutual friend Wayne on Saturday, my heart sank, as I knew it could only be one thing. And unfortunately, I was right, as I learned that Ed had finally lost his battle. Then came the responsibility of calling up old classmates and roommates to pass on the sad news, and that’s something I would just as soon not have to do again for, oh, ever.

Within a couple of days, I was on a plane down to Texas to say goodbye. I was sad, of course, but I really didn’t know what to expect from myself beyond that. At the visitation on Wednesday, I got more than a little choked up, a few tears were shed, but I still didn’t know what else to expect. But even in midst of all that, there were actually a few laughs, as friends and family gathered in groups to tell their stories of Ed (not all of them suitable for public consumption)—and believe me, everyone had a story.

Then came Thursday, the day of the funeral service. Immediately before that came a second visitation—and that’s when I found out what to expect from myself. For the first time that I can remember in my adult life, I cried. Not like the tears of joy on the day I got married, not just choked up or teary-eyed—I cried, and once it started, it wouldn’t stop for very long before it would start up again. For the rest of the visitation, I cried. Through the entire service and Wayne’s elegant eulogy, I cried. Lined up after the service with the rest of the pallbearers, I cried. And all the way to the cemetery as part of the procession, I cried.

But then… it stopped. As we carried his casket to his final resting place, some sort of peace fell over me. Yes, it sounds incredibly trite, but it’s exactly what happened. And as we stood listening to the pastor’s final words, I think I actually smiled a little. I think I finally understood that no matter what pain I may have been feeling, I knew that the pain Ed had been carrying (and hiding) for the past 11 years was finally gone. More stories about Ed followed, and then we all went our separate ways—but not without making a promise to not wait another 10+ years for all of us to get together, as we knew Ed wouldn’t want us to drift apart again. It was the least we could do.

To Edward and Martha, Sandra, Don, and Eddie… Wayne… Chris, Milda, Tom, Keith, Susan, Lana, John and Kristi, and countless others: We’ve lost a son, a brother, a father, a friend. But we had him in our lives, and even though he may not be here with us on earth, our lives are fuller from having had him for as long as we did, and we can take some solace in knowing that he is finally at peace.

This likely won’t be the last time I have to do this. I know this feeling of heaviness will eventually pass. And maybe the whole thing gets easier to do over time—but I hope not.

Adios, Ed.