11/07/04 — Winkie Lee column -- Farewell to a friend

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Winkie Lee column -- Farewell to a friend

By Winkie Lee
Published in News on November 7, 2004 2:07 AM

It does not matter how much you try, you cannot be fully prepared for the death of someone you care about.

The call came on Tuesday morning. After a brave battle with cancer, my friend Ed Hogan had died.

He died Monday night at the home of Dr. and Mrs. James Atkins, friends of his who provided him with a comfortable and safe environment during his final days.

Ed was a teacher, an actor, a world traveler.

He was serious -- and funny. Open -- and private.

He could be demanding -- and incredibly compassionate.

That compassion showed in a number of ways, including the free counseling he offered. A lot of hurting people hurt less because of him.

Among Ed's gifts was that he made people feel accepted and comfortable.

And he listened.

Even outside of the counseling environment, he was a good listener.

That's part of what made him so much fun to have lunch with. He not only talked, he wanted to hear what you had to say. There was no glazed over look in his eyes, no constant interrupting to add his thoughts, no glancing at his watch because he was in a hurry to be somewhere else.

Because he provided a safe haven for people who were suffering, there were those who wondered what they were going to do after he was gone. I remember him discussing it at lunch one day and realized that the time really was coming when he wouldn't be here.

As Ed became weaker and it became obvious the end was near, I felt a deep sense of grief -- the kind of grief when you realize there's one more person you love who will soon be gone, another good part of your life that will soon end.

Then I refocused, and I saw what I believe Ed would want us to see. The love is still here -- not only his, which we will remember, but that of so many others.

The Atkins didn't have to open their home to him, but they did. Betsey Pritchett and Grim Hobbs did not have to be available so consistently to help out, but they were. The Kitty Askins Hospice Center didn't have to have a tree planting ceremony in his honor, but it did. Ron Taylor didn't have to give the remarks at that ceremony or co-produce a final play for his friend, but he did.

Person after person after person didn't have to send cards or offer their prayers, but they wanted to.

Often, Ed's friends would speak of how much he gave and how special he was. They're right.

And he knew how special they were. Ed frequently spoke with affection about the people he knew.

One bad thing about the death of someone you care about is that it makes the world feel a little bit colder. But, look around, and you realize it's still a warm place -- warmed by the people still here and the wonderful memories left to us by a very dear friend.