The Passing of Ed Brenner
It was not what I planned for my first post on my website update. Certainly not what Ed had in mind either.
On November 23, 2012 the Rapidweaver Community and the greater online community lost a good friend. I lost a good personal friend and business partner. He was 48.
Cancer… Or at least the consequences of cancer treatment. But to understand we need to go back a few years….
Ed was part of a military family. His dad, him and his son. Ed was Special Forces. During the first Gulf War with Iraq, Ed was exposed to many chemicals. Benzine being one of them. Probably from the burning oil fields. But who knows what other things where in the air due to chemical warfare?!
The evening after his passing I got a call from Kim, Ed’s wife, and she said that he came home from the war with ongoing health issues. Skin rashes and sometimes just feeling “under the weather”.
He never spoke much about his time in the military even though Ed and I have talked for many hours over the years. Kim never knew any details either. A few hints, but no details. Ed carried what happened, where he was, and what he saw, inside. He never complained to me and always had a smile and giving heart. But more on this in a bit.
Fast forward to 2012, July, Kim noticed he was not doing as well. Ed wrote it off to having grand kids around who brought every cold and virus home. Ed and Kim where very active in helping to raise and take care of the grand kids. At times their two daughters, Kirsten and Samantha, lived at home with them with the grand kids. Over the summer of 2012 I noticed that there was less and less chatting and communication from Ed. He was not feeling as well more often. But I thought the same, just kids around… But Kim was not so easily fooled.
A few weeks ago Kim and the girls finally persuaded Ed to go into the doctor for some tests. I talked to him the day he was to go in for the tests. He was having blurry vision and other issues. He told me about it and that he thought he better quit being so stubborn and go. Kim would not take “no” for an answer this time. From there it gets sketchy. Communications got few and far between.
One day I came home and checked my Twitter feed and saw a few posts from just minutes before about chemo treatments. I knew right then that it was Ed. But still no details, what type of cancer? Ed was private and I think he didn’t want to burden anyone in our community with this. Of course he never complained about the strong and fast course of treatment. At least not to me or on Twitter. Even Kim said he keep his chin up and saw a positive outcome. Except for one day in the middle of the treatments. Near the time they call “bottoming out”, when his immune system would be almost gone, none, nada. Ed finally said to Kim that he was out of gas and not sure he could keep this up, keep fighting the good fight. But just like the Ed we all knew, he bounced back with a positive outlook and the will to fight once more.
I chatted with him via Twitter DM earlier last week. He had his new iPhone with him in the hospital. He said he was feeling better and felt he might be home by the end of the week. I said to give me a call when he felt up to it and certainly let me know when he got back home. That was the last I heard from him. I sent a DM on Thanksgiving Day. No reply. By Friday morning I was concerned. Ed always communicated with me. Many times within minutes.
I found a DM on Friday afternoon via Ed’s Twitter account. All it said was “Ed died this morning. He is in a better place.” Kirsten, his oldest daughter had let me know.
Ed’s Twitter friends started to hear about his passing. Tweets started pouring in. We still didn’t know what happened.
Ed had Leukemia. It didn’t show up in the blood work. Only a bone marrow test found it. When he went to the hospital for the tests, after I talked with him, his symptoms would indicate a stoke to almost any doctor. But that day a doctor, someone who was an expert in Gulf War Syndrome, was working the ER. He recognized what was happening. Ed went into aggressive chemo treatment. Shortly after I talked with him earlier this last week Ed came down with Pneumonia. No immune system to speak of. This was Tuesday. Buy Wednesday I understand he was un responsive. He had been sedated for an MRI and didn’t wake up as expected. At some point a blood clot let go and Ed had an aneurysm. He passed Friday morning peacefully. He was not conscious or in pain. No more pain for Ed physically or mentally from the war.
I received a call from Kim Friday night. We talked for 45 minutes. She had seen this coming. She prepared her family for it. She was strong and amazing on the phone. I’m not so sure I was.
Kim and her family didn’t know much about Ed’s online world. She said he kept it to himself. Besides, each of us has probably experienced talking to our families about web design and code and get that blank stare that says “I didn’t understand a word you just said”. So it came as a big and pleasant surprise when twitter and the RW Forum lit up with people remembering Ed and how he had helped them with the “patience of Job”. Always friendly and caring.
I met Ed over 6 years ago on the Rapidweaver Forum. I was one of the main moderators. Ed followed me around and soaked up all things RW, HTML, CSS and more. But not just from me, but all the active folks. Especially the Developers who made themes and Plugins for Rapidweaver.
Ed called me his Mentor and credited me with helping him become the RW stalwart and go to guy we all knew. Kim called me that night to let me know how much I meant to Ed. She said he talked about me often. Very humbling indeed!
As I had less and less time to devote to RW and the Forum, Ed become more involved and took on more and more support questions. If I compare my 2 years of being one of the main support characters to what he did, I think Ed far surpassed his Mentor. He gave over 5 years of consistent and caring support. He loved RW and all things Web. He truly was “Mr. Rapidweaver”.
I had helped start Supportcasts.com (now moving to be macsupportcasts.com) and brought in Kevin Burns to help with it. But making video tutorials every week was taxing. I needed help. I thought of Ed. When I asked him and offered a share of the company he gladly accepted. From that point on we talked and worked together almost everyday. There where times when a week or so would pass but not often. We become good friends. It is now just Kevin an me again, looking to the future without one of the most loyal and best business partners you could ever ask for.
I think Ed was a lot like Samwise in the Lord of the Rings. Once a friend, he would carry you up the mountain if he had to to help you achieve your goal. I suspect this is how he was with his military buddies and special forces team. He always had your back.
What more can I say except that I was a friend of Ed Brenner’s and I am better for it.
I suspect those of you who knew him online feel the same way and have many stories about his help and support.
I am honored that Kim took the time to call me. I am grateful that Ed’s daughters took the time to tweet to his Tweeps. I asked Kim to keep in touch with me. Not to disappear. She agreed.
True to form, Ed never complained even to the end.
We will all miss him.
Ed had 3 children:
Kirsten Marie is the eldest
Zachary Scott is stationed at Fort Benning GA and his twin sister is Samantha Ann
Tea’ Marie – 7
Kylar Scott – 2
Memorial services are being arranges as I write this. Ed will be cremated as per his wishes.
Added November 26, 2012 at 8:26 PM MT
Memorial Service for Edward Brenner
Time -10:00 A.M. Wednesday November 28, 2012
Officiated By – Pastor Scott Beard
I will be taking a moment at this time for a silent remembrance. Then later I will have a beer or glass of wine as a toast to Ed. If you can, I hope you will do the same.