Eulogy for Eddie Michaels
Rabbi Steven Z. Leder
August 11, 2013
One of the most beautiful things I was lucky enough to see during dinner parties at Lorin and Eddie’s was Eddie saying goodnight to Dylan and Matthew. The kids would gather close to him, he would place his hands on their heads and say the Shema. That simple, perfect prayer reminding us that all is one. That there is a single, great, unifying force and power to all of existence from whence all things flow and to which all things return.
Twice on the day he died, I placed my hand on Eddie’s forehead and said the Shema. “Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad—Hear O Israel, Adonai our God, Adonai is One.” The last time, was seconds before Eddie drew his last breath and embraced the perfect peace of returning to the One from whom all life and memory flows. He was surrounded by Lorin and others he loved and who loved him. No pain, no worry, no suffering, no anxiety, no conflict, no sorrow—just peace. Eddie understood and believed and lived the truth that we are all a part of something beautiful and larger than our own bodies. For him, this disease was, as he so often put it, “part of the journey.” And now, Eddie’s soul journeys on in ways we will discover over and over again through the gift of memory and gratitude for his kind and generous heart.
Dylan and Matthew, that was and always will be your Daddy…a kind, and generous heart. Your Daddy loved you and he will always love you and he will always be with you cheering you on, coaching you, proud and always teaching you like he did all of us, about kindness and love. People are so lucky, because only people have the ability to remember. You can and you will remember your Daddy always and all of us here who loved him and who love you and your mommy, all of us will help you remember and we promise you, this will not always hurt so much. It is perhaps the most honest and helpful thing any of us can remember today…this will not always hurt so much. Somehow the sun rises no matter how dark or long the night.
Dylan, Matthew, your Daddy wanted me to tell you something right now. In our last talk together on Monday he said he wanted me to tell you that he knows how much you love him and that you will always love him and that later in your life, you can love other people too and that will never mean that you love him less. Be sad for a while. But then, make room in your hearts for love again and again and again. Laugh again. Be kids again. Have fun again. Your Daddy was so proud of you and that pride did not die when his body died. It is a force that will carry you forward for the rest of your life. And going forward is what your Daddy wants you to do.
And Lorin, Eddie wanted me to say something to you right now too. With that sparkle in his eyes and that curl of his upper lip Eddie, in a whisper he instructed, “Steve, tell Lorin she can visit a red state. But she can’t move to a red state.”
Eddie, funny, generous of heart and spirit, wise and deep, simple and profound.
Lorin, from that first moment the door opened at that meeting in 2002 and you thought to yourself “Wow! There’s something about that Eddie guy,” and Eddie asked a friend at that meeting, “How about that girl Lorin?” From that moment when you met your beshert, until he drew his last breath you protected Eddie, you nurtured him, and cared for him in a way so powerful and true and so filled with the deepest kind of love.
You helped Eddie live, really live until he died. You had insurance companies begging for mercy. Hell hath no fury like Lorin on a mission. And Eddie knew and felt and was propelled forward by your strength and your love. And now, it’s Eddie’s love that will uplift and hold you as you remember.
Eddie was a great publicist. He was always my first call if I was being interviewed and his advice was always perfect. Once, he likely he kept me out of jail when I told him what I was thinking of saying on air about Mel Gibson. Eddie gave me slightly more diplomatic language. Eddie always took the high road and he helped a lot of us do the same. He was a great publicist, but he was a great rabbi too. Rabbi simply means teacher and Eddie taught so many of us so many important things about being a mensch. His calm, his ability to see the good. He was a realistic optimist. Eddie lived and died without complaint. Today we are here really to honor Eddie’s life, not his death.
Over the last seven years, Eddie and I would often sum up his options with a single Hebrew word, “Kadimah.” We said it to each other a lot. Kadimah means, forward. Just go forward. If anyone ever set an example of going forward no matter what, going forward with hope, and grace, and strength and love, it was Eddie. Eddie was a little kid and a wise old man all rolled up into one.
What greater honor can we pay our friend and our teacher than Kadimah—forward? Forward into lives enriched by everything he taught us. Forward finding new ways to love Eddie and to love Lorin, Dylan and Matthew too. Forward with the deep faith Eddie had, that this is part of a beautiful journey toward the One from whence all things come and to which all things return. Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad.