Only ten short weeks ago, I met some new friends that had recently moved to Tybee. Kelly and Eric started talking to me one night when Sean was playing at the Sandbar. Kelly had been following pictures I shared on Instagram in the months prior to our meeting. She too is a nature photographer and and took beautiful images of our little paradise. She introduced herself to me as her Instagram name, “Whimsykel” so I would know who she was. We made an instant connect and vowed after the holidays we’d get together to hang out and get to know each other better.
The end January came and after our travels we were at hucapoos for the crazy rodeo night, complete with a mechanical bull. The place was packed and was standing room only. Kelly and Eric saved a table and invited Sean and I to sit with them. We picked up where we left off a few weeks ago and started making plans to get together again in the coming weeks. Eric invited us to join them at the Kentucky Derby in the spring. I checked my calendar as we were sitting there, but I had a wedding scheduled that same weekend. He said, “Well, they will just have to get another photographer, cause you two have to come with us.”
Sometimes friendships just come together in a matter of minutes. Eric asked when Sean’s band, In for a Penny, was playing next. Sean replied, “Two weeks from tonight on Feb 13, here at Hucapoos” Eric’s eyes lit up behind his black rectangle glasses, as he exclaimed that was his birthday night.
The next two weeks flew by and Eric’s 48th birthday arrived. We danced and and laughed and tried to keep warm huddled around the propane heaters on that cold February night.
The next day was Valentine’s day. Eric and Kelly had frequented the restaurant that my daughter Baylie worked at and she would always serve them. When she arrived that evening, there had been a sweet single rose Valentine left for her by Kelly and Eric. This had totally made Baylie’s day.
Just one week later, the night we returned from our cruise, I logged onto Facebook and my heart sunk as I read a post from Kelly. I read with disbelief that Eric had died the night before from a massive heart attack. She went on to say that they had the most wonderful day at the beach together, just prior to this horrible event that ended his life.
I immediately saw his smile, the dimples in his cheeks, and the joy he brought to our too few conversations in the past couple months. In a flash sadness washed through me knowing Sean and I wanted to spend more “couple time” with our new friends and now that was never going to happen.
Two days later, a handful of us gathered around a table at hucapoos to toast our friend and say “see ya later”. Mike prepared a round of Eric’s favorite drink, cranberry and vodka, and spoke from his heart of his brief friendship with a wonderful man. Kelly told more stories of his sweet and funny life and how he treated her with such kindness and love.
We are saddened by the loss of a friend we all wish we had more time to have gotten to know. But also blessed for the few times we had together. A reminder that we are not guaranteed tomorrow and to grab life with zest and fervor making each day count as if it were our last.
Cheers to you my friend. I look forward to our days together on the other side. Thank you for the joy you brought to those around you.
“O Lord, help me understand my mortality and the brevity of life! Let me realize how quickly my life will pass!” Psalm 39:4
Here is the beautiful poem Kelly wrote to her love…