This is when it gets hard. The dust is settling, and everyone’s life goes on. Posts about coffee, and gardens and family vacations and puppies and fun pictures with your friends flood my feed. It’s life. It does in fact go on. It’s bittersweet to see, coming off the craziest week of my life, where I felt frozen in the worst dream. I am now slowly waking with a tender and wounded heart. Still in shock and disbelief. At times forgetting that Eric is no longer here. Yesterday an alert popped up on my phone MEETING WITH RAW 9:30. I stared at it so hard, willing it to be true. That Eric would be calling our studio for his weekly check in on production.
Amidst all of this, there have been some silver linings. Seeing the good in so many people come out in bright rays of gold and just wrap me up and knock me over was like watching the human spirit become what it should be; giving, pure and selfless. I guess it’s too easy to hide our spirits in the every day. To shrink back and not be a part of the bigger more important picture of life. Well I saw some quiet folks come forth and stand tall and strong and beautiful with their heart in their hands helping anyone who needed it. I saw other leaders in the photography industry jump in with both feet and lead, crazy walking sticks in hand, muddy from head to toe. I watched as each day new people would come search, crazed and full of energy and run ahead of the group franticly looking for Eric. I knew they had been struggling with not being able to leave work and help. I will never forget my search team. The first day Candace Jeffrey was with me climbing through poison ivy and prickers trespassing on the river bank. I was sobbing and yelling Eric’s name and she quietly forged on with me. We then joined up with Rob Trenske and Joe Fuller. Candace waded across the river to Poison Ivy Island and searched, she wanted to leave no area unchecked. Another day I was with Greg Lewis, Jim Altieri and Candace and Josh Jeffrey along the river by the 133 bridge. It was eerily beautiful out, the sun was setting, the river quiet and peaceful. We searched, and I yelled Eric’s name and heard it echo all along the river and bounce back to me. I kept hoping to hear him yell back at me, but he never did. It was here that I took my first picture in the hopes of showing him when I found him and say ‘look you jerk, I took this right before I found you.’ Then Julie and I were in our ponchos in the pouring rain scaling huge felled trees in the woods along the river, crying and laughing and sweating.
Probably the funniest thing I saw (because with anything involved with Eric there is sure to be humor) was when Julie texted me saying that Andrew had taken off on a paddle boat searching and that she had lost him. They thought they found something and called the police so I ran out the door to find them and see what was up. Watching Andrew steal a banana paddle boat that was too small for him and scour the shoreline only to come back and have three cops waiting for him was pretty funny. They were all touched by how hard he was searching, but at the same time we were laughing at how funny he looked covered from head to toe in mud, with his glasses on paddling, as Julie (also covered in mud) and Val waited on shore for their search partner. And yes I have video of this. And there was me, there to pick them all up and drive their muddy selves back to their car which was miles away, shaking my head laughing.
This is something that bonded us all. Whether you were there everyday searching, or tagged in to help watch kids at the church, or you ran everyone’s wet clothes home to dry them in between searching, or you dropped off water or sponsored lunches or dinners spent hours on the phone talking to divers or officials or just texted your support or followed online. If you even went off on your own search and no one actually knew because you didn’t officially check in to our home base with our copies of maps and highlighters and walkie talkies. But I knew. I hopefully hugged each person that came into that church or at the bridge to check in. If I didn’t well then I owe you a big giant hug. If you came in and wanted to help and I didn’t have anything for you to do, I am sorry. I tried my best to help coordinate and run this search party with every skill set I have. Well shit. Now I can add this to my life resume. In fact we all jokingly talked about writing a protocol binder up on how to run an efficient search party. Nothing anyone should ever know, but we have it figured out now.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone for all of the tireless efforts. Thank you Julie who had the awful job of calling all of Eric’s clients to tell them what was going on, and thank you to the ones who are understanding, patient, kind. Thank you Philitha and Andrew for editing Eric’s final weddings with such care and love. I know this is hard for you all. Thank you Anthony DeCarlo, Jake Bergmeier, Dave Noonan and Mike Romano for covering all of Eric’s weddings. I know you will knock them out of the park and do our boy proud. Those clients are so lucky to have such a team of men ready to shoot their heart and souls out for their friend and co-worker. You are making me so proud, I love you all. Thank you to the core team of people who were the beehive. You know who you are. Thank you to Amber and Eric’s family who let me mother and cuddle and love you all. As Mammy said I am now adopted so go on and get my Christmas stocking I am here to stay!
Which brings me to this. While our lives are moving on and this all becomes something awful that happened to us back in June, I don’t want anyone to forget the spirit of community that rose high above this tragedy. Stay connected. Don’t fade back into the walls of your own lives. TAKE PICTURES. Even if it’s with your iphone. Even if it’s only instagramming them. Do it. Find the humor in everything. Like that time someone referenced camel toe during Eric’s vigil while the networks filmed away. Yeah. Go ask your parents about it.
To donate to the family directly, please follow this link to the langloisfamilyfund.org