Introduction to Erics' Biography

Even before Eric died,
I had planned to write a book about
being handicapped (children). - Hoping to stir an awareness
of the impact, and long-lasting harmful effects of the cruelty of children
- which is usually excused with~ "Kids will be kids"~.....

I am now going through this with Brandi too...
and there was NO WAY that I could NOT
write the book now.

Especially since there
is much of Erics' writing that deals with that pain. AND -
then, also, there is the greatness
which he achieved in his few short years...
which all wants the telling..... so...

I had even begun the book in
1993! However.. when he died - I thought more along the lines of
presenting HIS work... which is now becoming so interlaced with my
own - that I came to the point where it all came together and I was
ready to begin again. My viewpoints are different from the present
angle of grief which has nothing to do with the handicap thing - and yet -
like all martyrs - perhaps the fact that Eric did die so young and so tragically,
will serve to add impact to the testimony I am about to present.

Eric had so few years, and yet what he achieved in those years -
particularly when he was classified, at age 7.... as learning disabled. The
identification was accurate - but categorically and clinically, incorrect.
(Inappropriately as it later turned out to be VISUAL in nature)
At that time, it bore the stigma which is very likened to mental deficiency!
And yet..... Eric surpassed all others by far! *S*
It is painful to write of him, for my feelings about him are
a part of the writing and that hurts so much to focus on still!
But, working with this homepage and all that -
has been most strengthening and healing for me.
I believe that I am ready , at last, to at least begin...
So I finally ALLOWED the words to come tonight.
I spent six hours writing the following one and a half pages! *!*
Funny ............what took me six hours to form won't take you
6 minutes to read! (But it took years behind those 6 hours!)   It is far from complete,  but it is a beginning....

My Beloved Eric

Those first years were almost magical and fairy-tale-like!
What I remember most was the fun we had! We played like ~best friends~ do.
At each age and stage of those early years, we were so bonded
and in tune with each other that we were a little universe ourselves.
We sat together in the big red sandbox and made castles and mountains.
We waded and splashed in the small plastic pool - sitting in it together
and enjoying the cool refreshment of the water with the warm summer sun
smiling down on us.... Such gentle and carefree days!
We sang songs and we made our own imaginary worlds and circumstances
which we shared the creation of so easily....
experiencing it all as though our mutual little world
was more real than any other....
We simply delighted in all the moments of each day like two children.
I loved that time. So mellow, delighted and content we were!
It was a very special time of innocence, utter spontaneity and camaraderie.
Perhaps it was too wonderful!
Perhaps the sharp contrasts were too great and overwhelming
when the time came for Eric to leave "our" world and become a
part of the larger one surrounding us!
As an adult....
I had the bridges and pathways to connect the two worlds easily and smoothly.
But then it came time for Eric to venture out - into the sudden realization that this other world
was NOT of our own design.... the feel of it was perhaps too uncomfortable
and utterly disconcerting for a little boy who suddenly found himself thrust into it
and at the same time - wrenched from his own......
They did not merge well..... it was more like a collision.
I wonder, looking back today......
if Eric ever came to feel at home in either world thereafter.....
The term "world-shattering"
would truly be an accurate description of what took place.....
It seems to me that Eric spent the next 16 years between the two worlds....
never really entirely ~At Home~ again anywhere.
And why was this transition so traumatic?
The key word I would use would have to be
It wasn't until he had to stand alone in that ~Other world~
- that Eric ever knew that he was different. Well... now,
I think he understood differences among people...
what he had not encountered or experienced -
and what he never did ever come to understand,
was the cruel intolerance of others for ~differences~!
That is why I wanted to tell his story, share his pain and suffering ....
and perhaps.... just perhaps.... it may open the eyes and hearts of some of those
who do not comprehend how important, how devastating and how unbearable....
intolerance can make the lives of others who already have to face enough challenge
just to overcome the handicaps themselves without having to bear the abuse
of their more fortunate (?) peers who fit into the overwhelming majorities around them.

We lived (still do) on a "dirt" country road....
where the rumble of the great big yellow school bus was about the largest vehicle
in the world! (Erics' world). The only larger vehicle that would pass our house,
was the long, shiny milk-transport truck which would make its' daily pass each morning as it went to the two dairy farms just up the road and picked up the daily supply of milk.   These two events were highlights which would usually bring Eric
running to the window or door to witness in awe.   The driver of the milk truck, much to Erics' delight, would smile and wave his return acknowledgment of their ritual of familiarity and friendship.
The school-bus driver did not develop such a rapport with him....
but no matter... for there were KIDS on the bus....! Big ones, little ones.... kids!!!!
Just like him!   And these faces smiled and some even waved to the little boy with those big, bright shining eyes of excitement !
Eager anticipation and excitement were born and grew in Eric,
about the day when the bus would stop right here at his house
and he would actually get right on it and ride away!
He was about four when he began to inquire about
~When~ that time would come......
It became for Eric, so great an expectation that we even began to
"play" school to alleviate some of the impatience he felt to begin that thrilling
next stage of ~growing up to be a big boy~.
He spotted and begged for toy school buses, books about school buses and school...
every chance he got.   He kept an accounting of ~ "How many days now, Mommy?" for nearly two years!

Eric was a very intense child. Passionate about everything he did.
Passionate is, overall, a most accurately descriptive word for and about Eric.
I understood the nature well, for I had it too. It is not an easy thing to be!
And yet.... I cannot imagine anything less.... For passion has been my strength.
It was Erics' too.
Passion is also painful..... for everything is experienced so acutely.
I want to tell how intensely Eric felt the consequences of being different.
In the telling of his pain, I will also be telling of the victory and achievement as well.
For Eric was required to develop great courage, determination and strength of character to do much of what others do with ease and take for granted.
When he was ridiculed and tormented at being ~different~ -
he not only grew to accept being different
- he took hold and developed a talent and taste for uniqueness.
It gave him a depth of character and heart which allowed him to see,
understand, accept, embrace and celebrate the uniqueness of every individual.....
This made Eric, in my perception (prejudiced, to be sure, as I am),
a man of great capacity for comprehension of humanity that many
never achieve in an entire lifetime.
Eric had an inherent nobility, compassion, integrity and insight
that took him to the heights and depths of understanding.....
the humanity of mankind.

unfinished,  but a work in progress

by Nina Roberta Baker 1997

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