In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about Ed. About two years ago to this day, Ed did a hike with some church friends and apparently outpaced all of them reaching the peak. He powered through it and didn’t take any breaks. He never told me about the hike, but I heard that he went through our dad, who told me afterwards.
Why didn’t he ever tell me about these things when I asked him? I wondered. Every time I’d call him, I’d ask him what he’d been up to lately, and his answer was always the same: “Nothing.” It was like pulling teeth for him to talk to me on the phone. I’ll be honest: as much as I love my brother, he was always one of the worst people to speak with over the phone. He’s impossible to read when you are talking to him that way, and he hates the telephone. He never enjoyed answering the phone and preferred to let all calls go straight to the answering machine. It used to drive me crazy, and I would always get so exasperated. I know he would have been more honest and open with me about his activities if I had been there in person.
I remember the photo that his church friend shared from that hike via e-mail after I requested pictures. Everyone in the photo is smiling at the camera except him. His face stares into the camera, lonely, a little sad, distant from the world in many ways. I can’t even bring myself to look at it now because I know how upset I will be if I do. I look back at the time when he was alive, and I can’t help but think that there were too many things that were left unsaid, or perhaps not said enough, or emphasized enough, and now it’s too late. It’s been almost two years since he’s passed, and I still think about these things. It’s not so much my own pain that lingers as strongly, but more the pain he felt that seems to stay with me, maybe because I never fully had the capacity to understand it, and also because of the helplessness of his pain. It’s as though the pain was so deep that even God couldn’t help him at that point, and Ed just let go.