Eric left this world much too soon, but left a legacy of love that is everlasting
Eric was happy-go-lucky, kind, loving, loyal, and artistic. He had a special quality that drew people toward his huge heart and positive, upbeat attitude. His mantra was “everything will be ok” and when people were in the presence of his beaming smile and infectious laugher, it felt that way.
Eric was lovingly raised by his single mom, Sheila, with whom he had a special bond. He was a great big brother to his sister Taylor, nine years younger. He cared for Taylor when their mom was working, helped her with homework, scaring the monsters from under her bed, and walked her to and from the school bus. Eric was a good dad to his cherished fur baby, Gizmo. His grandmother recalls driving by and seeing her lanky 6’1” grandson walking his tiny Yorkshire terrier, “It was comical,” she said, “They were truly an odd couple; I don’t think any dog was loved more than Gizmo.”
Eric liked to be with friends, often acting as a mentor and sounding board, always available to help. He was thinking of going to school to be a counselor, though he was also attracted to being a rap star or owning his own landscaping business. He wrote and practiced his songs in his bedroom music studio; one of his lyrics was achingly prophetic and was featured on the back of his funeral memorial card: “Finally, I am free.” “If only he could have found freedom while he was still alive,” his grandmother said.
Eric had a strong relationship with his twin cousins, Patrick and Marie, who looked up to him, and he was close to their mom, his Aunt Cathey, who spent hours on the phone with Eric discussing life. His Uncle Dan had a significant influence on Eric. He gave him his first job mowing lawns and took Eric under his wing when he was making poor choices. Dan did his best to mentor and guide Eric in a positive direction.
Eric was working as a server when he learned he was hired for a job with a tree service company. Having a second job would allow him to get his own place while still making life easier for his mom, which was always a consideration for him. He also had plans for school and a family; the future was looking bright. But the day Eric was to start the job that may have changed his life course was the day that he passed away.
His grandmother is heartbroken that he isn’t present to see his sister become a mother to his niece, Aaliyah. “He would have been the best uncle,” she said. “We talk about Eric all the time and she will grow up knowing she has her own guardian angel in heaven.”
His grandmother still keeps his favorite snacks on hand, though she knows he won’t be walking in the door to find them. She misses his random texts and phone calls. “I miss his bearhugs and I miss hearing him call me Gram.” Since Eric’s death, she has received her certification as a family recovery coach and co-chairs a local GRASP chapter to provide resources and support to others who have lost loved ones to substance use. She says, “Eric was much more than his disease and I cannot let the way in which he died be the way in which his life is forever defined. I’m honoring his memory by educating others and advocating for change to help families avoid the devastation of this disease.”
Eric’s grandmother, Marie Datillo, provided the information for this narrative, with input from Eric’s mother, Sheila Poore.
December 29, 1991-June 28, 2014
Age 22-Lived with substance use disorder 4 years