Eric Gold

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Dan Einhorn's Eulogy

Thank you all for coming. I know it’s a huge effort and your presence means so much. It’s truly surreal to be together to commemorate Eric’s passing. Who among us was more alive than Eric? It’s surreal.
We are here from all over the US and Canada, and among us are family, friends, colleagues, patients, staff, and more. I think Eric earned the presence of each of us here, by and large, one person at a time. Everybody in this room has a story about Eric that makes them smile, that gives them a warm feeling. In most stories, Eric is laughing or doing something engaging or really engaged with you. Ruthie, Renee, Elana – nothing can console you now, but I hope it’s some comfort to see just how many people your Eric touched deeply, including hundreds more who couldn’t make it here today and have given us the avalanche of emails, calls, cards, etc. 
There are a few things I want to share in Eric’s honor, but first I have 2 things Ruthie gave me permission to discuss: his last days and his health.
First. Ruthie his last days since they were so quintessentially Eric. After a week with the whole family, Eric was the king of Club Med, everybody loved Eric, doing everything with all the usual boyish charm and playfulness and the genuine sweetness that just oozed out of him; and you know how Eric basked in that kind of companionship. Vacation with Eric of course means not wasting a minute: between tennis, scrabble, journals, food, news, and on and on. On the last day, New Years Day Eve, he had a few hours of excellent tennis with Elana and a men’s singles tournament, which, importantly, he won. Then there came the New Year’s Eve party with all the usual, including dancing, as only Eric could dance. As always, Eric was the party. After midnight the family went back together to the room to settle down for the night. Eric sat down in the chair and he was out. Doctors arrived in minutes since everyone was gathered together close by, including an ER doctor from Montreal. The defibrillator came minutes later, and they spent a long time trying to resuscitate him. Eric died at 1:15 AM January 1st. He was 57. His final hours have several poetic ironies that hopefully will make it easier to handle his passing, especially over time.
Second, I want to share my personal understanding of how Eric treated his health, because I might be upset if I thought that he didn’t make the best effort he could. Eric intended to be alive for a very long time. He was fully aware of his heart and his limitations, and never thought he could act with reckless abandon. He knew he had to be careful and, for Eric, he was. To try to take away all of his physical activity would have made him a caged tiger, to use Ruthie’s words. It would have taken a frontal lobotomy. He wouldn’t be Eric without being Eric. About what to do for his heart, he made reasoned, careful, decisions, with his doctors, with multiple opinions, and frankly he researched his condition in such depth that he was truly a world authority on vascular biology. 

He’s the one the cardiologists call for information. He kept his eyes on the pipeline of research hoping for that breakthrough that would change his circumstances. There was simply no ready solution, let alone an easy one. Every option, including surgery, came with potential complications and no great promise. He hoped to be able to bide his time, doing his best with medicine, until something really better came along. In retrospect, there are many things we can second-guess, but I feel his legacy deserves to show that he tried everything he thought was possible to still be with us today. He wanted to be with us. He loved being alive. How long we live is up to God; it’s just a matter of where or when.

Now I hope Eric will forgive my sharing some things I love about him, I‘ve saved some things up for the roast I hoped for his 60th, which we really should celebrate anyway, but I’ll share those another time. Eric really was unique.  
The most obvious was his boyish quality. But what does that mean? It means it made him charming, open, curious about everything, excitable, full of energy, and always ready to come out to play. In part it reflected that he was simply the most decent, genuinely good sweet human being. In part there was also a certain vulnerability, why he cherished loyalty so much and why friendship with him was such a blessing. Who among us had a more intense, two fisted, and love of the moment passion than Eric? 
These qualities let him get away with all kinds of things. There are many examples, but let me give an example right here in the synagogue. Every High Holidays the place is packed and the last person to arrive is Eric (substitute dinner party, meeting, whatever, Eric is the last to arrive). But does he just go quietly to his seat? No. He marches right up to the front row center and begins schmoozing and joking with everyone. He really livened the place up. It’s not going to be the same without him.
But Eric was also fiercely competitive and voracious in his appetites. Luckily his appetites were for good things, like tennis and spectator sports, because he sure indulged them.
One of his appetites was for medicine. He simply loved medicine. And his patients, and staff, and all the physicians who knew him loved him for it. As a physician, Eric never sought acclaim, but he was the best and brightest among us. He saw more patients than anyone, read more journals, attended more lectures. As with everything, it wouldn’t be Eric unless it was done with total intensity .
Let me give you a typical day attending a national medical meeting with Eric. The day starts with the 6 AM lectures, after the 5:30 AM first free meal of the day and goes non-stop until 9:30 at night (after the last of the free meals) with Eric staying on to ask the last, and often most important, questions. In between it’s a non-stop dash from lecture to lecture strategically mapped out to glean every last drop of new information, attending the 1st 20 minutes of this, the last 30 minutes of that. Pause only for a trip to the gym or a run. Repeat for 6-8 days. 

But even as he studied so intently, being away with Eric was always a party. With Ray and Chris, we were” the amigos”, always together, really the only doctors among thousands who were always together with each other. We were a phenomenon, in part because there’s always a buzz around Eric. We never stopped cracking each other up for hours on end; I remember many times Eric and us laughing so hard hard we were almost incontinent. We had to leave lecture halls because we couldn’t contain ourselves. We had to apologize in restaurants for our behavior. Eric turned us all into mischievous kids. One of our colleagues, a senior person in industry, wrote to me “Dan, one of the reasons I cherished being your friend was that Eric was your friend and partner”. The world of diabetes and endocrine won’t be the same without Eric, certainly here in San Diego where his patients feel his loss so deeply.
As a physician, Eric had many wonderful qualities, but one I always admired was that he was completely non-judgmental, completely accepting of people as they are. Didn’t matter is you were a CEO or you were homeless; to Eric you were someone interesting. Let me read to you a quote from the Insulin Pumpers newsletter just published from one of Eric’s patients:
As my personal physician and friend for many years (and if Eric was your doctor he was your friend too), I can attest to Dr. Gold’s dedication to caring for any and all patients, regardless of how compliant they were; or whether they spoke English or Lao or Vietnamese; or whether they had insurance or not; or whether they were a pain in the butt.
And he loved being a mentor. Many here today were mentored by Eric and know he changed your lives. In my own way, I too was mentored by Eric, I’m here because of Eric, and I’m better because of Eric.
In conclusion, I was thinking how do we best keep Eric alive in our lives. And then I realized that among the many virtues of his having been a man who was both so open and so consistent, is that we know what he would be like in just about any situation. You can still ask his advice, scream at the score, share a good story, and whack a ball knowing exactly how Eric would respond. Whatever we do, it goes better with Eric along. My buddy, my partner, and my brother I will miss you so always.