Saturday, February 7, 2009

Sander Zulauf's Eulogy

Eulogy for Ed Healy

My friend the great language philosopher and poet Kenneth Burke, died fifteen years ago in 1993 at the age of 96. But he visited me the other night in a dream. He was in heaven. I said to him “KB, you look terrific!” “Yeah,” he said. “I gave up drinking a month ago!” In one of his essays, KB says “names temporize essence.”

I think Ed Healy is a perfect example of KB’s theory. For Ed’s very presence was “Healing.” Every time I saw Ed he made me feel welcome and good and he always seemed so genuinely glad to see me that I was suddenly happy to be alive. Ed will remain with me as the very embodiment of Jesus’s Great Commandments: he loved God, and he healed us all by loving his neighbor as himself.

A few days ago in the Times an op-ed piece appeared entitled “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” It told of one writer’s mission to transform his typically anonymous neighbors into a neighborhood by asking if he could sleep over for a night at his neighbors’ houses.

His first sleepover was at the home of the widower surgeon who lived next door. The surgeon told him that most people usually asked him how long he had been married. His answer was “52 years,” and the inevitable comment that followed was “Ah—at least you had a good long life together.” To which his reply was “I was just getting to know her.”

Isn’t that the ecstatic sadness of our short lives?

Ed Healy, we were all just getting to know you.

—Sander Zulauf
Poet Laureate, Diocese of Newark

(St. James Catholic Church, Red Bank, New Jersey,
July 1, 2008)

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