Memorializing Erich

On This Day. 2 Years Ago. We Memorialized Erich McChesney at First Pres. in VB with songs, hugs, speeches, prayer, tears and bagpipes – and then the next day we set him free out on the water off 47th street with more hugs, love, toasts and songs. I wanted to grab all of the kind words and speeches and statements that have been made to honor Erich over those two days and then following on Facebook. Please read, share and enjoy:

Mary McChesney – May 14, 2016 – Today is a day I never wanted to come. There were many times over the last few years where negative thoughts would creep into my mind and I would imagine this day and then push those images aside and think, no way, that’s not going to happen. But it did and we are here in this sad, empty and lonely place. Void of the feeling from just being in a room or on the same planet with Erich. He had the biggest and most wonderful presence. If you knew him you could feel him whether he was sitting next to you or was a hundred miles away. I dont think its as simple of a feeling as love…it was there of course, but it was more than love, it was a calmness, an assurance that things were ok, and a confidence that comes from having some one care so wholly about you…. it was peace. Peace of mind, heart and soul that he was there for you for anything and everything no matter how big or small. And it’s been more of the inconsequential moments I’ve had the last week that felt the most painful. Times when I normally would have been calling him on the way home just to say hi, or debating dinner plans or choosing a pair of shoes for an outfit….those have felt the loneliest. And it’s a level of deep sadness that I did not know existed. Which coming from me is impressive really….since I cry over FB memes and sad commercials… So all that said, I guess I just needed a moment to share in preparation for today and tomorrow where we will fill rooms with people, stories, music and all the things Erich loved. Most importantly of those of course will be all the PEOPLE he loved, and who loved him. It is a gift to know so many people also love me and Hannah as well. We are better people and have deeper friendships and loves in our life because of Erich. I will laugh and cry with them and I will try to not feel pain but rather a fraction of Erich’s love as if he were with us in person and we will honor Erich and be strong for him and give him what he always gave us when he was with us – peace. ❤

Andrew Lasher – May 14th, 2016 – Gregarious, kind-hearted, amazing, generous, larger than life, witty, stern, crazy, thoughtful, brash, good, SO FREAKING LOUD, loyal, sarcastic, funny, stubborn, and courageous; those are just a few of the words I’ve heard used to describe Erich over the past week. From my experience with E, all are quite accurate. My personal choice is very simple; I chose “brother” because that’s what he is to me.
Prior to meeting Mary, Hannah, and the rest of their extended clan, Erich didn’t have a traditional family to speak of. He cherished being welcomed into the fold and that inclusion meant the world to him. He loved you all; Phelans, Lillibergs, and Johnsons, very much. Personally, I thank you for taking him in and making him one of your own. He deserved the chance to experience what being part of a traditional family feels like. You all made sure he did.
That being said, his non-traditional family has always been enormous. If I asked for a show of hands of how many of you consider him to be a brother or son, I’d be looking at more than I can count. He had that effect on people, he drew you in from the beginning and there was nothing you could do to stop it. His loud voice (aided by the fact that he was deaf as a post), that big booming laugh, his remarkably quick wit, and absolutely genuine nature were too much to walk away from. You never knew what would happen next when you were with him, but you knew that whatever it was it’d be worth sticking around to see.
For those who don’t know, Chestnut and I met at Army Basic Training in 1994. By good fortune (more mine than his) we spent the next two plus years together at Fort Bragg and have been extremely close ever since. Speaking of the Army, I’d like to share a message from his brother paratroopers with whom I’ve been speaking all week: “Chestnut, you have made your final manifest. Know that we will pick up your boots, weapon, and flag and carry them forward for you. May your drop zones always be made of sand and your winds always be calm. Rest easy trooper until we see you again. Airborne All the Way…H minus Loyalty.”
E and I didn’t talk as often as we should have, a fact that I now deeply regret. Life and geography get in the way. Things happen and you just don’t pick up the phone as when as you should. However, when we did talk it was like no time had passed. Our conversations could last three minutes or three hours, but you knew each and every second was a genuine as it came. When we actually did get together, holy hell, but we created stories that could fill volumes. That is something I’m sure is true for many of you here.
I will close by paraphrasing something one of his life-long friends said recently: “He was just so damn infectious! If you were close enough, the gravitational pull of his personality would suck you right in. And you would remain there captured in ever loving orbit, circling him for eternity.”
Erich you are greatly missed on this plane and are, I think, loved far beyond what you realized.
Rest easy brother, enjoy the Maker’s Mark, and thank you for bringing us into your orbit.
We are all better off for having known you.

Cori Simmons Triano – May 16, 2016 – Today, we celebrated the life of an amazing man… my best friend, my brother, Erich McChesney.
One thing I learned today is that Erich was clearly placed in so many of our lives to show us what it means to consciously choose love. Personally, he showed me what it means to love unconditionally. That’s how he loved his wife Mary, his daughter Hannah, his entire family and all of his friends.
To say that Erich was loved by many is an understatement. To say Erich had an affect on everyone he ever met is an understatement. To say that I was a better person because of Erich is an understatement.
I’m so grateful for the memories shared even though that means that now I have to grieve the loss of the best friend I’ve ever had. I’m so grateful for the people that Erich brought into my life. Some of the best friendships I’ve ever known began through one common denominator…Erich.
Please keep Mary, Hannah and all of Erich’s family and friends in your prayers as we all try to pick up the pieces and continue through life’s journey without Erich’s infectious laugh, quick wit, or his larger than life personality.
Erich, you will forever be missed. You will forever be loved. You will never be forgotten my brother, my dear friend.

Bryan Lewis – May 16, 2018 – Today I say goodbye to one of the finest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing and being almost family with. His passing hit me harder than most and I think I’ve cried more over this than 1,000 viewings of ‘What Dreams May Come’. Life sucks sometimes and this is certainly one of those times. The world lost a beautiful, intelligent, kind, funny and loving soul. Erich McChesney, I am honored to have been a part of your life. I wish you were here to read this. I’ll never forget you. ❤

Mark Jones – May 18, 2016 – I didn’t get to toast my friend Erich McChesney during his memorial service or at the celebration of his life afterward. Nor was I really ready to. But after a long quiet drive home, I was finally able to finally put into words what I was feeling. So here goes the best that a lowly squid can muster….
Years ago I had a young Sailor who when on liberty in some random dive bar in the Mediterranean would raise a beer and belt out,
“Here’s to you as good as you are
And here’s to me as bad as I am.
But as good as you are
and as bad as I am
I’m as good as you are
As bad as I am.”
In a drunken haze I would stand there thinking hard and trying to figure out if somehow I had been complemented or insulted.
But when it came to Erich “I’m as good as you are, as bad as I am” actually makes sense.
Erich has been by every one of our sides at times in our life when we were at our very worse. I guarantee that each of us can remember a time when we where having the worst lows of our lives and Erich stood by us. He never judged. He never belittled. He never trivialized. Most of all, he never felt sorry for himself. He never once tried to make his personal pain, illness, frustration, or mental anguish the center of attention. He never once felt sorry for himself.
He was always there to listen, lend a helping hand, and lift our spirits, no matter how bad you felt.
He always made sure that we realized that in his eyes, we were still a good person. That was his true gift to this world.
The last few years, as you know, I too have dealt with my own debilitating and potentially deadly disease. The double edged sword of depression and alcoholism is a very really disease. However, the very simple cure for it is to continually strive to be as “good as you are”.
From today forward, when I am struggling, I will think of Erich and strive to be better, just as he would want it.
I raise an ice tea to you my friend for every day I will strive to be AS GOOD AS YOU ARE, AS BAD AS I AM.

Mary McChesney Aug 8, 2016 – I went back to Feb/March on my timeline today and read every post, looked at every photo, laughed, and loved every memory shared, and enjoyed every second of it!! I did not cry. I was happy, joyful, and blessed to have the memories and love to look back on. These past 6 months have been a testament to all of our souls. I love you all so much. I love Erich so much. That will never change. He loves me, Hannah and all of you as well. He expects A lot from us as people he loved. He expects lives to be lived, loves to be cherished, adventures to be taken. If you knew him, and you loved him then you know that he would never be happy thinking he had made one person sad, or hurt. His mission in life was to make people happy, bring out their light, their joy, their laughter. My job now is to do that for him. I’m not sad, I’m lucky. I have his love and support to help me, guide me and send me forward. No, I’m not crying anymore… I’m happy, loved, and content. ❤

Cori Simmons Triano – March 30, 2017 – Today is my brothers birthday. He would’ve been 44. We should’ve been celebrating his recovery and rehabilitation after PED surgery to bypass his nasty, fusiform aneurysm today. Instead, we are celebrating the 43 years of awesomeness that Erich brought into this world. Nothing has ever been the same since you went to Heaven. I find that I’m angry and selfish that you’re not here. Then I find peace and quiet and a calmness in knowing that I will see you on the other side one day. When Mia sang Happy Birthday perfectly this morning, out of the blue, and kept telling me to be “happy” anytime I cried, I knew you were with us and letting us know that you were ok. And I’m fairly certain that you were up there telling me to stop crying and stop being sad and to celebrate that you were no longer in pain. Driving home tonight after celebrating with friends, “Sweet Tides” came on in my car. I knew then, without a doubt that you were saying “good job sis for celebrating life and not spending the night crying.” I so wanted to spend the night crying but I knew you didn’t want me to. You are missed so much that it makes my heart hurt. It’s so hard to lose the unconditional love of a brother and miss the sound of his voice and his laugh. I’d give my life to have you poke fun at me just once more bc I knew that was your way of expressing your love. There has never been anyone as special as you and there will never be anyone like you. Thank you for your love, your friendship, your brotherhood and your loyalty. You were the real deal. A true brother no matter who was your mother or your father. We were blood and I’d given my brainstem to save yours if I could have. I know that time will heal this open wound in my heart but there hasn’t been enough time to heal just yet. I love you bro with all my heart. Cheers to you! I hope the BBQ and bourbon are amazing in Heaven and that you’re sitting with Saint Matthew planting orchids and talking about life’s great mysteries. I know you are. So many memories today have flooded my brain. No words can express how glad I am to have those memories. I selfishly wanted more though. Love you every day big bro! ❤

Mary McChesney – Aug 10, 2017 – some sweet photos popped up in my memories today of Albin and Erich! Albin was probably the most loving, happiest dog ever to bless me with being their momma…although he was most happy when he was with Erich McChesney, so my guess is they are both extremely happy to be together again. ❤
Albin passed about 2 weeks ago. He fought hard for a few months with his doggie diabetes but it was too much for his little body. We gave the family a couple of weeks to come to terms with it before we told a lot of people but I figured these pictures on my Facebook today was a good sign that it was okay to share with everyone! We loved that little guy so much – but Erich McChesney loved him the most — so I really do think they needed to be together – and that’s why Albin had to say goodbye to us for now. I am so happy that those two are together again. Playing and happy!

Cori Simmons Triano – Dec 28, 2017 – This (sign in the pic below) was written for you big bro! You were on my mind over the holidays and especially the past two nights while watching David play. I knew you were there, dancing with me, yelling “YEAH!!!!” in between songs and being the loudest and proudest person in the crowd. It’s just never the same without you. At holidays, at concerts, at times when I need advice or a joke or to share something that only you would laugh at, or just when I need that reassuring and unconditional love that only a brother like you gave me. Losing your best friend of your whole life is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to live with and most days are starting to feel easier than the day before, but the past few weeks have been really tough without you to lean on. I know you’re watching from above. I know you’re always listening when I talk to you. I know you’re catching me when I fall and telling me to stop crying when I start to share something funny about a bacon pic on your timeline and then go down this path of writing a diary/blog and wind up with tears streaming down my face. Daggone bacon sign pic made me think of you and how much I miss you, every day. I wish I’d saved every voicemail, or at least one of them, because I haven’t heard your voice in so long and I sure would love to hear it, especially your laugh. I’ve wanted to hear your laugh for so long that I’m starting to forget the sound of how loud and unique it was. I don’t want to ever forget that laugh. Ever.

You’d be proud of your boy! He was amazing the past two nights on stage. The whole band was. I’m so proud of him. The kids were hilarious! Seeing it all through their eyes last night was so humbling and precious. They cared more about the free skittles, pool table and pac-man games upstairs than seeing backstage, having a run of the place when it was empty or being on the stage when they had it all to themselves earlier in the day. They’re amazing little people and they miss you. We all do! Merry Christmas in Heaven brother. Love from your lil sis. I’ll see you again and I’ll keep talking to you every day in the meantime. ❤

Mary McChesney – March 28, 2018 – Visiting Erich McChesney s page today and saw this video he had made a few years back…. great memories. On this morning in 2016 Dr. Agola and Dr. Nelson began a long (much longer than expected) day of operating trying to made E a new artery in that big ole brain of his. They did amazing work and tried to pull off an impossible feat. And were successful! Erich’s eyes when he woke up and squeezed my hand said a million things without saying one word. He was so thankful and happy that he had made it through. Sadly this day was just the beginning of a tough road. He fought hard. 2 days later He Happily celebrated his bday with a lot of visits from loved ones with eye blinks and hand squeezes and smiles…and then he went to sleep. I don’t think after that he ever truly came back 100%. There were moments in the weeks following with a foot movement or a hand movement or his eyes would flutter or try to focus on you. But I think his mind and spirit had begun to separate themselves from that body bc he knew it was not going to ever support him with the kind of life he wanted. He made me promise months before, when he was still talking and walking (and eating all the food he wanted and loved) that if he could not come back and live a full life, one that included all those things at the very least, not to allow him to come back at all. So I kept my promise to him, I owed him that much, even though I did not want to, and Dr Agola and I made the call to let Erich have some peace and quiet in his life for a few days before he said his final good bye. Those were rip-your-heart-out painful days, yet also so quiet and peaceful. I am so thankful to the many many many friends and family who stood by us over the months and years leading up to today and the 40 days that we existed in limbo until we said farewell. Erich was, and will always be a good man, an awesome Friend, a wonderful poppy, a loving family member. I miss him everyday. His laugh, his hugs, his sense of humor, his cooking….and most of all his unwavering love for anyone who meant something to him. If Erich loved you and was your friend, you knew it. So if you are one of those people take a moment today and remember this guy who fought so hard for everything that mattered to him. And was a true fighter right up till the end. We miss you E. I’m glad you are at peace and that you gave us so much to be thankful for. ❤

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