McDonalds, Car Rides, Bugs, and Eric Vitz

I was but an awkward teen, as many teens are.

What a beginning for a blog post, huh? But it’s true. That day, in the summer or 1995, I sure was awkward. And I was a bit nervous because I was going to see my sister at the camp where she was working for the summer. I wasn’t anxious about seeing my sister, but about how I was going to get there.

Eric Vitz was going to drive me.

You need to know that I looked up to Eric Vitz. He was probably 4 or 5 years older than me, which is a lot for a teen. He was also madly popular at the college my sisters attended (a college with a student body of about 200). He was funny. He was cool. And he was going to be a minister.

I was intimidated and worried that I would have nothing to say to him on the 2 hour drive to the camp and 2 hour drive back.

But he was going to see his girlfriend (who was also working at the camp) and offered to give me a ride.

He bought me McDonald’s breakfast to eat on the road and we took off.

As I ate, I tried so hard to say the right things…the cool things. He asked me about school and my summer job and all that kind of thing.

Then, while speeding along down the highway in his tiny car, we hit the juiciest bug I have ever seen. It splattered and my Egg McWhatever seemed a bit less appetizing.

“You know what the last thing was to go through that bug’s mind?” Eric asked.

Was it a trick question? Something theological? Was there an existentially correct answer?

“I don’t know,” I said.

“His butt,” Eric answered. And then he laughed.

Eric Vitz was a man of infectious laughter.

I couldn’t help it, I snorted like a pig, I laughed so hard.

That was Eric’s way. He knew how to put a person at ease with his kindness, his genuine concern, his gift of humor.

Eric died this morning. Some kind of infection attacked him, spreading through his whole body. I’ve been following the whole thing on Facebook all week. And this morning I saw the tragic news that he died.

Yes. It is tragic.

I know, he is now with Jesus. He lived a faithful and giving life.

Still. His death is a tragedy.

His wife. His beautiful and amazing wife is now grieving with their gorgeous and talented daughters (three of them). His parents and brother and church will have this huge void. So many of my college friends are hurting.

Eric lived in such a way that he will be missed. Deeply.

All I can think of to pray is that God will give comfort. That God’s image-bearers will pour out mercy.

If you’re a person who prays, please pray for the Vitz family.

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12 thoughts on “McDonalds, Car Rides, Bugs, and Eric Vitz

  1. My favorite memory of Eric was going to see Dumb and Dumber with my friend Jill, Eric, and his friend Ronnie. The theater was packed and we had to sit front and center. Eric and Ronnie’s infectious laughter made the movie ten times more funny. My heart breaks for Eric’s family and for Ronnie.

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  2. That was beautiful, Susie! Hillary and I were just talking about how Eric had the most distinct, infectious laugh. He was such a great guy and such a wonderful father and husband to my cousin. So many are hurting today. He will be missed dearly.

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  3. Thank you for writing this! I didn’t know him well but I am close to many that loved him deeply. I can’t help but find myself in tears today and yet at the same time, I feel lead to listen to worship music while I sit here working. Praise God for healing Eric. At the same time, Dear Lord, please put your arms around that family!

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  4. I never knew Eric well, but through high school and beyond his two older brothers were two of my closest friends. I hear the stories of Eric and can see Scott and Kelly doing the same things.

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