On July 29, 2012 I had the distinct pleasure of going to Heritage Gardens with Dawn and Eric Pauli to shoot Eric’s graduation pictures. It was a beautiful day! Two hours, about 5 outfit changes, a quick cleaning of Natalie’s wheel well and we were done! The time flew by! We laughed, we joked, and of course Dawn and I teased Eric about his obsession with his clothes, car and hair.
As I sit here now typing this blog I never would have imagined that looking back through those pictures and thinking about all the fun we had could be so bittersweet. You see, today would have been Eric’s 21st birthday. I say would have because Eric was killed tragically on February 2, 2014 in a snowmobile accident.
Eric was not just another senior whose pictures I was taking. He was my son’s best friend and I considered him an “adopted” son. Eric always had a way of lighting up a room and making us laugh. He was known as a picky eater, so I take pride in the fact that I actually cooked a vegetable that he would eat. So now when I cook green beans with garlic they are affectionately known as “Eric’s Beans.”
Eric loved his yellow Pontiac G6. Her name was Natalie. In fact Eric loved the car and the color yellow so much that he and Jeffrey took apart and painted the inside yellow. I think the two of them worked for two days on Natalie. If only the two of them spent that much time and effort on schoolwork, but that’s another story!
The LAN parties they would have always made me chuckle. A group of teenage boys sitting together in one room with their computers gaming was quite a sight. No, they did not have laptops. They would haul the CPUs and the monitors and all the cables and set up for one night. The last time Eric was at my house was at the LAN party the day after Christmas. I gave him grief because he came in carrying a CPU that was huge! He barely made it down the stairs. The next morning I woke up and found him sleeping on the couch in the front room. That was the last time I saw Eric.
Now I look back through all the pictures we took that day back on July 29, 2012 and feel blessed to have made such precious memories. Eric was so full of life, and when I look back at the pictures I truly hope it’s what others see as well.
Eric’s parents have set up a scholarship fund in his name at Oakland University. Please click on the link below to view the article and learn how you can donate and keep his memory alive.