Ink Out Loud: Look back, don’t stare
Ink Out Loud
Eddie. I am thankful for Eddie. His sight was stolen, but not his vision.
In 2008, 22-year-old Eddie was shot in the face at close range by a former high school classmate. He lost both of his eyes. Fortunately he didn’t lose his life. I knew Eddie as a sweet and patient child, always big for his age. Of the neighborhood children, he was the only one who willingly played the “Pretty, Pretty Princess” board game with my daughter Miranda. He was 12 and on the football team then, and she was in kindergarten. He laughed when she covered him with pink jewelry and topped it off with a sparkly tiara.
The man who shot him was mentally ill and kicked out of his family home. He was an acquaintance from high school who needed a place to stay and Eddie gave him that until the night when Eddie entered his kitchen and was greeted by gunfire, without provocation.
I was glad he didn’t see me cry when he returned home from the hospital after months of surgeries. My daughter Nicole stood between he and I as white as a ghost, her eyes brimming with tears. He looked as though he’d been through a war. His head felt like it might explode, he said. We brought trinkets for relief, soft tissues for the oozing sockets where his eyes used to be and ice cream, because he said his head felt hot all the time. He joked with Nicole about being short to put her mind at ease.
About a year later during a visit with Eddie, Nicole said “You look great.” He laughed and shook his head and said she looked great, too. He gave her a playful punch in the arm to let her know she could take her foot out of her mouth and laugh, too.
He taught himself to play bass guitar, he kayaks, works out, does martial arts and he even gave someone a tattoo recently.
He attended a school for the blind and bought a home.
The shooter is in prison serving 25-to-life, and Eddie forgives him.
As is true for most homeowners, stuff breaks. Eddie wrote this on his Facebook this week: “I woke up around 4 o’clock today. The left side of my sink wasn’t draining really and that’s the side with the garbage disposal, so I took all that crap out and fixed it. Put it all back together, then I fixed the center sleeve and my dishwasher and did all my laundry and cleaned up the rest the house today. I’ve got to start waking up before 10 a.m. I guess once a carpenter always a carpenter! Still a rock star, just being broken into a domesticated rock star LOL!”
He has a great sense of humor and enjoys life more than most people. That’s who he is in the face of adversity. So I like reading his Facebook wall. It makes me smile, laugh and gives me strength.
A few months ago I was feeling kind of down and I went to Eddie’s wall for inspiration. I was stunned when I saw this: “It’s a cliché, but has never rang more true, take care of you and yours because no one else will. And if Mandy Feder sees this, I just hope you know that you took care of you and yours and a lot of us other kids, and we do not ever forget that. No matter what we do and where we go, you will forever be a part of our lives. You went the extra mile for us other kids and I can only speak for myself, but I love you for that.”
The joy those kids brought me was a gift. I miss having a house full of laughter, the outdoor food fights and the good-natured practical jokes. All these neighborhood kids grew up to think of one another as family members. It never occurred to me that anyone was thankful but me. Thanks Eddie, for seeing what it takes to live a meaningful life.
“I try hard not to judge anyone, and I try to bless everyone who is a part of my life, particularly anyone with whom I am having any problems” ― Jim Henson
Mandy Feder is the Managing Editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. She can be reached at 530-542-8006 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Three Lake Tahoe nonprofits received about $5,000 in grants recently from the Bessie Minor Swift Foundation.