Eric James Gruler was an artistic, charming, and witty young man.  He was a dare-devil with a heart of gold.  He was kind-hearted, compassionate, warm. He had such a big heart and was always sharing that with others. His smile and sense of humor was contagious and sincere.  He was Protector of those he loved, he cherished family beyond all possessions.

Eric was a daredevil, he liked the adrenaline rush off jumping off mountains, flying on his bike, swimming with the sharks in Mexico.  He even liked tackling adults like his stepdad and wrestling him to the ground just for the fun of it.  Eric was fun-loving and a practical joker.  He loved magic and he loved doing magic tricks for kids.  Eric was very loyal – he would say that he would take a bullet for someone he loved.  He was always there when someone needed a hand.  He loved to laugh.  When he thought something was funny, it overtook him with contagious, happy laughter.

Most of all Eric loved his family.  In fact, Eric had a tattoo on the back of his arm that read “Family”.  Family was the priority in Eric’s life.  He had a profound and abiding love and respect for people with special needs.  He grew up with a very special brother, Joey, and he grew up with a very special Auntie, Ann Marie.  He often spoke out against stereotypes, prejudice, and negative attitudes towards people with special needs. He had a special glow about him and was always very happy just to sit and listen, support and love them both.

As a senior in high school, Eric faced a serious wrist injury.  Multiple doctors and several surgeries left him with tumors in his ulnar nerve and a gimp hand.  Because he was left crippled, he was guaranteed an unrestricted supplier of opiod pain killers.  In an all-too common story, the pain-killers led to heroin.  As sweet and caring as he could be, the heroin consumed him.  Eric would often say heroin was like the devil stealing his soul.  Eric fought hard.  Through numerous cycles of detox and rehab, up to 6 months straight with another 6 months sober, he relapsed.  Through all his struggles and the associated burdens of shame and guilt, Eric would battle the odds to be the young man we kn0w and love – full of hope and promise . . . only to resubmerge into the darkness once again.

Eric choose to end his struggle on February 27, 2016.  We miss him every day and we thank God for the gift of the 27 years we had with him.  We miss his incredible wit and intellect, his joy in having the philosophical discussions, delving into the world of politics, discussions over the rights and the wrongs of world, discussions of religion and humanity, and endless number of conversations that truly let his heart shine to us all.  We miss him at Sunday dinner, we miss him on Christmas morning, we miss his smiling face as he chows down on his favorite meal – pulled pork.   We miss his constant asking for the family recipes. We miss his tinkering on the piano and we miss his sharing of the songs he liked to listen to.  We miss his quirky humor and his unique perspective on life.  We will miss the man who was immensely caring, tender-hearted, generous, a loving son and brother, and a faithful friend to so many.