Eric was a remarkable young man. He was funny and kind and smart and loving and had a way of including everyone in his enthusiastic approach to life that made him a friend to everyone that met him. There are staff members at the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp who met him 26 years ago and still talk about what a great kid he was. That’s the kind of effect Eric had on people.
Those who were blessed to have known him were certainly forever impacted by his warmth, insight and courage. And we are all blessed to be able to look into his world through his gift of writing. If you didn’t know Eric, you soon will feel as though you did…
Just days before Christmas in 1989 it came back. It came back in the same place, the same way and at the same time of the year. The cancer I’d fought and licked for seven years came back. I was devastated and so was my family. I knew the routine. Surgery was the first step. My family was waiting for me in the corridor as I went into surgery, something came over me and I took advantage of the hospital gown and “mooned them” saying? “Just a walk in the park, guys…a walk in the park.” And it was, relatively speaking. My second brain tumor operation and my sixth surgery as a result weren’t too bad. The radiation is more specific now, so I haven’t lost all my hair, but I’m older and maybe I can handle it easier. I recovered quickly enough to take those final exams at Bishop Miege and graduate with my class from high school…but wait, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me go back to B.C. – before cancer and catch you up on my story. The park I’ve gotten through is something else! B.C…..(before cancer) What a Life ! I wasn’t the best, but I was real close. I had it all! Good grades, good friends, good family and soccer, basketball, football and baseball to keep me busy. I felt unbeatable! I wanted to kill the evils of the world and make a name for myself. Awards and honors came easy for me and I tried to do my best. I had a ton of friends – so many I never worried about it. Everybody always came to my house because they liked my parents. My Dad knows how to make everybody feel comfortable, including “kids,” and my Mom was like a second mother to everybody – she always cared and looked after everybody. No wonder they all wanted to hang out at my house…they were well-fed and well-loved. I loved my life! I have lots of family. My two sisters, Emily and Ellen, and my Mom and Dad and I have always had a great time together. Actually, that’s all that’s important is to be together, and we were, on trip, at home and just about anywhere. My Mom has six brothers and sisters and Dad has two brothers and they all live around here. Everywhere I go, someone knows one of my relatives. My Dad’s father died when I was about five, but my Dad’s mother and her sister live close by. I have fun going to lunch or the races with “the ladies,” that’s what I call my Grandma Druten and her sister Adeline. My Mom’s parents are looking for a house closer to us because all their kids and grandchildren are in the area. You see, that’s great, because we all have so much fun together. There’s always a birthday, so there’s always a party to go to! I love them all and they’ve always shown me great compassion and love in return. I was at basketball practice when I tried for a three-pointer and saw two goals. I was seeing double and my head started to hurt. I went home and slept for 32 hours. We went to an ophthalmologist the next day and he knew immediately...read more
When I was a young boy, I was smart, athletic, and, of course, very handsome. These same qualities were engraved in every main character of every book that I read. Many times, I would imagine myself as the main character of the books that I read. I liked to read books that were “out of this world.” The first set of books I remember really getting into were “The Chronicles of Narnia.” If you are unfamiliar with it, it is a story about children, about my age at the time, and how they end up in another world where an evil queen ruled the land. This was no ordinary land, for in this land animals represented the people, and everything was alive. Unicorns, centaurs, all kinds of other distorted figures, and even the trees, were alive and well. In the end, all the land was saved by the people’s god, Aslan, a giant lion. After that series, I got a kick out of fantasy-fiction books. In these books, it was usually one person against the greatest of odds, but truth, honor, and justice were always on their side. The hero, or group of heroes, would come out victorious. As I said, I saw myself as the main character, and always as the humble victor. As a kid growing up, I had never faced anything more bothersome than a fly. I always dreamed that some evil would befall my family, and I would be left to defend them. I would vanquish the foes with a swift kick to the knee or a simple call to the police! Always, in the end, everyone would hug or kiss me, and thank me for my bravery. I did not anticipate it, and I definitely did not want it, but my great terror, my battle against outrageous odds, was not long in coming. After weeks of headaches, double vision, and blacking out, my mother took me to the doctor. The doctor was not long in discovering that I had a tumor inside my brain. It was cancer. My battle had arrived, but with very ill timing. We battled through the surgery, through the sickness, through radiation and chemotherapy. The doctors had little hope; they told us I had about six weeks to live. The odds were never stacked this badly in my books! I struggled through each day, hoping for it to end gently, not wanting to die a painful death. But here I am. They did not kill me – I was too tough. I cracked skulls where I had to and came out victor. Now this was in the books. Unfortunately, life is not written in any book that I know of. Last December, I had one of my scheduled CT scans, and it showed positive for more tumor. After seven years, the cancer, the menace, had come back and shown its ugly head. For me, this was the ultimate downer. I did not enjoy it the first time around, I do not enjoy it now, either. My final battle is nearing its conclusion. My final chemotherapy treatment is in January. Through it all, I have tried to remain noble, honorable, and humble, but damn it, enough is enough! It is written in all of my books, and I know it to...read more
A Rose Is A Rose By Eric Druten When is a rose not a rose? When its color is bleached from its petals? Like draperies that have been stripped of their color By the unforgiving rays of the sun? When it is distorted and misused, Or stepped on and beaten? When it is left in the heat without food or water Like a riverbed parched by a summer’s rainless days? Can it remember its former beauty? Will its submission to death be final? Or will this respite be brief … Like the cool front of an upcoming storm. I know of such a rose – Battered and beaten, But determined and willing to survive – Alive, alive, alive! A long battle it waged. Drawing strength from stem and leaf. As a hurricane from the sea gains energy, This rose ever blossoms, delighting in the ecstasy of...read more
Love is a difficult thing to put on paper at best. There are so many types of love, I’m sure I don’t know where to begin. I have experienced many kinds of love in my short life, and I am sure you will take them to heart. My first love is my love for life; not many people have experienced the struggle that I have to maintain my life. When I first went in, they told us that I had no more time than probably six months. Of course, no one told me this and my love for life flourished and I did not die. With the help of my family and friends, I fought back and am doing fine today. That brings me to my second love: my love of my family. I do not know that I could have made it without their love and support. Every last one of them, down to the smallest child, helped me to come out of my shell and get back into real life. My parents helped most of all, giving love and encouragement as I needed it, but my aunts and uncles and grandparents, too, all expressed their concerns for me. At that time, my friends and I shared an interesting relationship. For a while, they came over often, sat and talked with me, made me feel really good. After a while, the visits became more and more spread out, until they stopped altogether. Understand, I got cancer in the fourth grade and went to a tiny school with 200 kids. I knew everyone there and they all worried about me. When I finally got back to school, it was in the seventh grade at a junior high school. Kids from all over went there, and none knew I’d had cancer; no one cared. My friends all pulled away from me because I was different from the rest. I was treated horribly from the start and the rest was hell. Somehow I lived through the hell and when I decided on high school, I knew I wasn’t going to the same place everyone else was going. I decided to go to Bishop Miege High School. Miege was the Garden of Eden. People there didn’t care what you looked like or what disabilities you had; they liked you all the same. At least they didn’t play all the nasty tricks on you that they did at the public schools, and the teachers at Miege really seemed to care about you. I still have a few friends who stayed with me through the whole ordeal, but I formed new friends here, and they are all very good friends. My relationship with God is an extremely complex one, and I will try to explain it to you. I always knew God was there, and I knew he cared about me, but I didn’t love him all the time. Actually, when I got cancer and all of those bad things started happening, I think I actually hated God. I blamed him for letting this happen to me. I mean, he was supposed to watch after me, right? I took in all of the religious dogma that was offered like a good little boy, and after a while I realized that this wasn’t God’s fault...read more