Edward Joseph Bailey "Eddy"

Born May 24, 1982 Heaven Bound Nov. 12, 2002


Edward Joseph Bailey "Eddy" was born in Clarinda, Iowa to Phillip J. and
Gail F. Bailey. He arrived at 12:01 a.m. and he was 8 lbs. 8 ounces.
His older brother is Brett James Bailey, and Brett was born in August
of 1980.

Eddy had colic for the first three months of his life, and it was very
hard listening to him cry so much and trying to sooth him. Some days I
would end up crying because his colic was so bad. Later on, Eddy had
allergies so I always wondered if it was allergies that made him colicky
at first.

But then he turned into the sweetest baby a mother and father could
have. He had a little round head and the cutest smile and the sweetest
disposition. I remember carrying him around on my hip for the first few
years of his life and he was my little butterball.

He loved to be read to just like his older brother loved to be read to.
I would have two little boys, one under each arm, with their brown
little hair and dark brown eyes, and I would read to them everyday
several times a day.

At age 3, in preschool the teacher told us she discovered Eddy was
reading a book in the corner of the classroom. She thought he had just
memorized it, but then she realized he could read. He was a precocious
sweet little boy.

He entered kindergarten when he was five years old; Eddy was soooooooooo
big for his size. When I would take him to the doctor, Dr. Zehr, for his
well baby checkups, Dr. Zehr would measure him, look at me and say
"well, he's blown off the charts again."  Eddy loved to eat his entire
life. Nobody enjoyed food more than our Eddy.

He excelled in school and in 9th grade he told us he wanted to be the
valedictorian for his Class of 2000. We told him that was a wonderful
goal if he could do that. Lo and behold, he did it! We were so proud of
him. He was so unassuming and so humble about it all.

His greatest assets were his kindness and his gentleness. Eddy was so
big for his age and so strong and so smart that the football coaches
wanted him to go out for football. They asked him over and over and over
again, and he agonized about the decision and decided not to go out for
football. I was relieved, but I also knew that he was too gentle for a
sport like that. He just couldn't do the hitting and the knocking that
that sport requires. But he was the best statistician Jefferson High
ever had.

Eddy excelled at math so he put his math skills to use being the
statistician at all the football games. He was a regular site with his
clipboard and his baseball cap and his shorts walking up and down the
sidelines and then coming home and reporting the stats to the
newspapers. He was so sweet and he especially loved to keep the stats
when his big brother Brett was playing as linebacker.

He shared his knowledge with his classmates, and we found out at his
visitation how many peers he had tutored while he was at school. We
didn't realize how much he had done and two young gals told us they
would never have made it through high school without Eddy's help each
day in study hall. We are so proud of him.

His gentleness was so profound. I bought a little parakeet from a
co-worker and brought it home thinking it would be a big mistake. Eddy
proved me wrong. He loved that little bird more than words can express.
He fed it, he played with it, he watered it, he loved Babe so much. He
worked hours and hours with him to get him to say Go Big Red and pretty
bird and Babe said it. He taught Babe how to kiss our lips on command.
He was a giant strapping hulk of a boy and this precious tiny parakeet,
he tended to with such love and care. That exemplifies Eddy to the max.

One day he told me he walked out to our curb to get the mail and on his
way back inside the house he realized that Babe was sitting on his
shoulder. Babe could have flown off and had his freedom, but even that
tiny pet knew a good thing when he found it. Eddy was so kind to every
living thing.

He went off to college at the UW Madison. He loved it there, and he was
excelling in his studies. He was double majoring in Econ. and Finance
and finally he found a place where his math brilliance was paying off.
He took such hard subjects and aced them all; he had been asked to apply
for a Rhodes Scholarship. It was an incredible honor, but he didn't even
tell any of his friends. That is how humble he was.

The last weekend of his life he went to LaCrosse, Wisconsin to see his
best friend play in a football game. He had told me via email he was
going to LaCrosse and I emailed him right back and said "who is driving
Eddy; I don't want anything to happen to you." He said his good friend
was driving and not to worry. He spent Friday and Saturday nights in
LaCrosse with many of his friends from high school.

On Sunday he returned to Madison to study as he had four major exams
that week. He told his roommate he was very tired, and he watched the
Green Bay Packer game with his roommate on Sunday afternoon. On Monday,
Eddy went to his college classes. At four pm that afternoon, he took a
shower and told his roommates he was feverish and he could NOT get sick
because he had his four exams that week. He thought he was catching the
flu. He took some Nyquil and went to bed after eating a bowl of chili.
At 7 a.m. that next morning, Eddy knocked on his roommate's door and
told Vince he was having trouble breathing. Vince said "should I call
911?" Eddy said to Vince, "GO FOR IT." The paramedics were there within
two minutes, and Eddy had collapsed onto the floor. He lost
consciousness soon thereafter and was pronounced dead at 8:02 a.m. at
the ER . Meningococcemia, Type C, had
claimed his sweet sweet life.

Eddy lived 20 years, 5 months and 19 days. He and his brother Brett were
and are the absolute joy of our lives. We feel half alive without Eddy,
and we have to figure out a way to go on. He would want us to even tho'
some days we do not even care to go on without his sweet life mixed in
with ours.

Eddy was 6'3 and 250 lbs at the time of his death. He was our gentle
giant, our Eddy bear. Words cannot describe the loss, but he does live
on inside our hearts. We do know he was a gift to us from God, and we
are so thankful for that. He taught us kindness, humility and humor.
Eddy had the driest wit of anyone we've ever met.

Thank you for letting us share with you about our beautiful sweet son,
Edward Joseph Bailey. We will love him forever.

Gail and Phillip Bailey
Eddy's parents



Eddy and Mom

And Brett James, his big brother


Governor Doyle signs

Meningitis Day Awareness Day

2003 - A Journey into Space
From Mom and Dad
Ed, it's been almost six months since that fateful day in November when you left us for your journey into the next realm. As I sit here trying to describe my despair over what happened to you, I keep trying to think of what the future will bring. Yesterday, I was thinking of how puppies are so innocent and naive when they are young. Do you remember when Caesar played in the snow for the first time? He didn't really now what it was, but he was so funny exploring what snow was all about and experiencing it for the first time. I was also innocent and naive before you died. I feel like a puppy today, only I am learning what it is like to live with no hope for the future.

I wish in the worst way that you could come back to us.

Missing you is like:

"Going an entire week without seeing the sun.
" Waking up in the morning and no birds are singing.
" Going golfing with Grandpa without you along.
" No leaves on trees in the summer.
" Going for a walk, but never being able to come home.
" Going for a Sunday drive, not knowing or caring where you are going or where you will end up.
" Going to sleep, and never waking up from a bad nightmare.
" Riding on one of the Voyager spaceships that have left the Solar system on a trip to eternity.
" Being envious of an end stage Alzheimer's patient, because they don't know how bad they are.
" Being pulled into a black hole, with no chance of escape as your body is compressed into infinity.
" Driving on the left side of the street, when everyone else is on the right side.
" Riding a bicycle in the Inde 500 with everyone else in race cars,
" Trying to breathe on Mars.
" Watching as the Langoliers catch up to you, but they never do get you.
" Knowing what it feels like to be road kill.

We are all on a voyage thru space and time. We experience the present, we remember the past, but we can only imagine the future. Will we live a long life before being reunited with you in heaven? Will our time come tonight, next week, or in 30 years? Will I die fast, or have a slow, painful, agonizing trip to the end. These are things that I ask myself when I try to visualize the future without you.

I feel like I am on a ghost ship endlessly adrift in space. In 3 or 4 million years, a group of aliens from a distant star system may find the ship and try to figure out what happened to the inhabitants. They will scan the ship, and then enter with weapons drawn, ready to take on whatever force they encounter. Our bodies will be long gone, but pieces from our fragile life will remain. How did these people live? What did they do? Why are they so far removed from the rest of their clan? How did they die? Were they a happy people or were they always sad? How did they deal with stress, joy, adulation, grief? The aliens will find no demons or enemies on this ship, only innocent victims, endlessly searching for answers to questions, such as "What is the meaning of life?" and "Why do people die?"

I sometimes wonder if we will become like the Robinson family, permanently bound to a barren planet on a distant star system. What variety of monster will greet us tomorrow? Will we ever be able to return to Earth and live normal lives again? Or will we be permanently tormented by unknown demons, who will eventually consume our souls?

I have a lot of empathy for the victims of the Atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which ended World War 2. The people who were killed instantly didn't know what hit them. The survivors were in a state of shock after the bomb hit, but over time, they realized the horror that had befallen them. The lucky ones died soon after the explosion. The injured, which were farther away from the blast, or were protected, were burned and scarred. We were scarred in November, but there are no visible signs on the outside. The injuries were to our soul and spirit. Like the burned victims of the bombing, our injuries will heal over time, but we will always carry scars of the painful blow dealt to us when God took you away from the physical world.

Let's take a trip around the Solar system on a mystery spaceship. As we blast off from Earth, we leave the comfort of our own home, on an eternal journey into the vast, wide unknown. We will use the gravity of the Sun to slingshot our space ship to the far reaches of the solar system. Our plan is to venture all the way out to Pluto, and then return past the outer planets, eventually coming back to Earth sometime in the distant future.

Our first glimpse at our sister planet Venus, is rather shocking. Venus is the brightest of the planets from Earth, but up close it is the brightest object in the sky. Venus reflects light off the Sun in a manner not unlike how you mirrored all that is good and kind in man. I am amazed at how you reflected all the good traits of your mother and me.

Our next visit is to Mercury. Mercury, being so small and close to the Sun, basks in the glow of the Sun's intense heat.  You were like Mercury, being so close to your mother and I. It is hard to believe that something so close can be so dead. When we passed by the planet I felt like we should be able to reach out and caress it, just like I wanted to give you a big hug as you lay in your casket.

As we then reached the far side of the Sun, we felt a strong tug that propelled us out to the outer planets. This was similar to the boost we got from God that pulled us through those first few days after your death. We are now on a long journey to the unknown. We hope to make it back to our own planet, but there are many obstacles in our path, and this will be a long and dangerous journey.

We are now closing on the planet Pluto, nearly 2 billion miles from Earth. It is so cold on this lifeless world, that the very thought of landing on the surface makes me numb. It is a profound type of numbness that engulfs your body during the days immediately after the loss of a loved one. The numbness goes all the way to your bones, and it just won't go away.

We now circle Pluto and head back to the other planets. Our next visit is to Neptune, the blue, frozen planet. Neptune is so beautiful; you don't want to believe that it is lifeless and frozen. How could anything so beautiful be so dead? I keep asking myself, how could God take someone as smart and kind as you. You never harmed anyone, and were a good son and good friend. You had so much to give to the world.

As we pass the halfway point in our journey, I am engulfed in a profound state of depression. Not even the site of the planet Uranus can bring me out of this depression. Uranus is an ugly, dead and lifeless glob of dirt, just like the dirt that covers your coffin in the cemetery. I don't know how to bring life to Uranus and I don't know how to climb out of this deep hole called reality.

As we see the next planet Saturn, appear out the window of our craft, I realize that we are headed directly into the path of the rings. How could our captain be so stupid as to chart a course directly for these debris fields that we see as rings from the Earth? I am so mad that I could just scream. The anger I feel about this navigation blunder is just like the anger I felt toward God, when he snatched you from us so quickly and painfully last year.

As we head for the next planet, Jupiter, I feel a strange pain in my body. It must be from the intense pull from the gas giant. Jupiter is the largest of the planets and does have the biggest gravitational pull in the solar system, next to the sun. The pain in my back reminds me of the pain I felt after your death. The injury to my soul was severe, and no simple first aid could treat it. I still feel the pain, but it is not as bad as it was at first.

Once we escape the gravitational field of Jupiter, we close in on Mars, our last visit before arriving home. A strange calm feeling encompasses my body. As we have traveled thru the entire solar system, I am learning how to come to grips with your death. God created the Sun and all of the planets, and he also created you. I feel like you are covering my soul and spirit with your love, similar to when Grandma Bailey appeared to me in human form at the funeral home in Scottsbluff.  God has a plan for all of us, and I know that each one of us is as important to God as each of the planets is to the solar system.

We can now see the Earth from our side windows. I now know firsthand the immensity of the solar system and of God's love.  Life is a journey, and we don't always know which roads that God has planned for our trip. Sometimes we run into detours and obstacles which are impossible to move. But if we accept God's love, he will find a way for us to get to our final destination.

Ed, I cried like a baby in church on Easter. I wasn't crying because of grief, but because of joy. I was grateful that Jesus died on the cross, and sacrificed so that you could have eternal life. Ed, I know that God has a plan for you.  Even though we miss you here on Earth, Your work in heaven has only begun, and we will be meeting you there sometime in the future.

"As human love only shines in all its splendor when the last tiny
glimmer of desire has been extinguished, so we have to make the world a
wilderness to find God in it. The meaning of the universe lies beyond
history, as love lies beyond desire. That meaning shines forth in
moments of illumination (which come and go unaccountably . . .) with an
inconceivable clarity and luminosity. It breaks like crystalline dawn
out of darkness, and the deeper the darkness the more crystalline the
dawn." -Malcolm Muggeridge

"Only when the loved person is out of reach does love become complete." Graham Greene

Thanks Giving Thoughts
Giving thanks for our Eddys
Last Updated: Nov. 21, 2003
At Large

Sometimes Thanksgiving is more reflection than food. There is a grace to
Thanksgiving, a softness, a quietness, that interrupts us during every
noisy Thanksgiving: on occasion, it is overwhelming because we think
about our own.

All of us celebrate friends and families, toasting those who are with us
and remembering those who aren't. The uniqueness of people we love is
also a similarity that we all have.

Many of us have had an Eddy in our families, yet we also realize that,
for his family, there was only one Eddy and he wasn't here long. This
Thanksgiving, his family will give thanks for the 20 years, 5 months and
19 days that Eddy spent with them.

Eddy often wore shorts in high school, even in winter. There are
billions of people, yet each is distinctive, he believed. Being himself
was important because it was not being anyone else.

"Eddy made the Wall of Fame at the Prime Quarter restaurant in Madison
by eating a 40-ounce steak in record time," his mother, Gail Bailey, 49,
said. "We weren't surprised because that was Eddy. We were a little
surprised that he went back for seconds."

We don't bring up Eddy during Thanksgiving week because of his epicurean
accomplishments; we just want to give thanks for the Eddys of all ages,
all families, by singling out one. During a speech at the graduation
ceremony at Jefferson High School in 2000, Eddy, the valedictorian, said
something that is appropriate to remember at this time of year:

"Too often we do not appreciate what we have until it is gone . . . To
everyone still in school, my advice to you is to treasure every moment
that you still have in school. This message holds true to all of the
adults in the audience, too. Look around and identify every good thing
in your life."

That's a good reflection for us on this Thursday, or on any day of the week.

Eddy had a perfect grade point average in high school and a 3.8 average
out of a possible 4 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison; he was
certainly intelligent.

"Yes, he was smart," his mother said, "but his lessons all came from the
heart, not his mind."

For the past year, there has been an empty chair in the Bailey home in
Jefferson. Eddy died unexpectedly, suddenly, devastatingly, and his
parents have worked hard to make sure that fewer students die from

Eddy's father, Phil, 53, wrote an essay about his son that said losing
him was like "waking up in the morning and no birds are singing . . .
Going for a walk, but never being able to come home."

"Life is so short and losing Eddy, well, I love like there is no
tomorrow, because life is . . . so fragile, and so many people forget
that," Gail Bailey said.

On Thanksgiving, let's remember the strengths and the fragility of our
lives. The sunrises, as well as the sunsets. And love like there is no

Eddy, a junior at UW-Madison, was only sick overnight and died of a form
of meningitis. His parents, and parents from around the state, worked to
get the Wisconsin Legislature to pass a Meningococcal Awareness Bill, so
students can be made aware of the dangers and be vaccinated. Gov. Jim
Doyle signed the bill last month, another reason that the Baileys are
thankful, as well as sad, this Thanksgiving.

In a letter to the police officer who informed her of Eddy's death, Gail
Bailey thanked the officer for sensitivity and said, "I know Eddy will
watch over you and your loved ones, too, because I asked him to."

Each year, we have a lot to be thankful for. Whether we support the war
in Iraq or not, we have to thank the boys and girls serving there.
Eddy's brother, Brett, is in the Army, stationed at Scoffield Barracks
near Honolulu; we have to remember all the Bretts in the world, as well
as the Eddys who've already made their ways through our lives.

We should be thankful, too, for little things, such as little children
and little grandchildren, who aren't very tall, don't weigh much, but
can squeeze your heart with a hug. Let's be thankful for flutters and
whispers in the trees; fog and croaking frogs; let's be thankful for
jumping dogs, bouncing butterflies, clouds painted by flame, splatters
of raindrops, wind-whipped flowers, kittens with string, splashes of
boat oars, dipping flights of finches, and the promise of a morning of a
day that we hope will never get dark.

Let's be especially thankful for every color of people, every American.
Let's be thankful for each other. And for all of our Eddys.

From the Nov. 23, 2003 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Bill Janz Archive

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