I’ve been reminded in recent days and weeks by the tremendous amount of sadness so many people around me are dealing with.

Loss is a terrible thing and even though it’s a part of life we all face it doesn’t make it easier.  If you lose a parent or grandparent who has lived a long and fruitful life it is still sad but easier to accept as you hopefully have many great memories that you will relive time and time again with other family members.

Of course at the other end of spectrum is the loss of someone way too young. I read something where someone wrote that parents having to bury their children just does not seem like the natural order of things and unless one goes through this experience it is difficult to comprehend the pain that a parent experiences.

I would have to agree and hope and pray that I’ll never have to deal with that type of pain but unfortunately I know many who have suffered through this.

Of all the good friends I have Ed Graichen is the one I have known the longest.  When I was a kid he worked for my father on the boardwalk in Seaside Heights and was one of those guys I looked up to. He’s a bit older than me.

Later when I was a senior at Central Regional I actually had him as a study hall teacher which was kind of interesting.  Ed would go on to have a long career in education, most of it in guidance at Central, Lacey, Toms River South and even after retirement came back and spent a few years at Donovan Catholic.  He was also a championship soccer coach and coached baseball as well.

In more recent times “Gator” has become a cherished friend and we’ve shared many good experiences with a group of guys who are fun to be around.  He lost his wife Kathy way too soon but two of his sons gave him grandchildren to love and enjoy.  Unfortunately his youngest son Matt had struggled for much of his adult life with diabetes and each time it looked like he had turned the corner another obstacle would get in his way.  Ed was always there for Matt and clearly the two shared a special bond.

This week the latest complication from the disease claimed Matt Graichen at the age of 35, a life cut short before its potential could ever be reached.  I can’t even imagine the pain my friend feels but I know there will be many who will try and ease it and provide comfort.

Rest well Matty, your pain is over.