Ed, We Hardly Knew Ye

It is with a heavy heart that I heard the sad news of the passing of Ed at Blawg Review from his son on Twitter:

Ed Blawg Review Announcement

Many lawyers and blawgers knew Ed through his highly influential and entertaining Blog Carnival: Blawg Review:

Ed was one of the first to graciously invite me to host on Blawg Review. It was a daunting task, but a labour of love. It was through Ed that I was able to meet so many of the blawgers in the Blawgosphere when I started this blawg back on August 10th, 2009. I also followed Ed on Twitter: @blawgreviewBlawgReviewEd-751947-784057

Ed was a complex man of many talents. Many have met Ed in person, but few, if any, knew his real identity. I never did. All I knew about Ed was through our email exchanges, when Ed would randomly send an email linking to an idea for a post, or he would send a DM (Direct Message) on Twitter with a wry reply to a tweet.  Ed enjoyed travelling the world and meeting new people. He often posted whimsical self-portraits; photos of himself in exotic locales, obscuring his face to keep up the intrigue of “Ed Post”.

Ed was a very private person. So private, that when I met him for the first time in early 2010 in Toronto at my former office in North York, I had no idea what he looked like. It was snowing and bitterly cold. Typical winter weather for Toronto. Ed was waiting at the lobby wearing a hooded parka. He approached me and simply said: “Hi, Antonin. I’m Ed.” We had an enjoyable lunch across the street at an Italian restaurant. As circumspect as he was, Ed could tell a great story. In fact, all that I could pry out of him was that he was a fellow Canadian, had practiced corporate law, but was since retired. He enjoyed his anonymity, but solely to promote the Blawgosphere and each of the blawgers who contributed to his Blawg Review.

Ed could be a tough critic and would not shy away from controversy, but always with a wry sense of humour and never with any animosity. Although I often chided him to reveal his identity, he never chose to do so and I never asked him who he really was. The mystery was not for its own sake, but, and I firmly believe this, Ed enjoyed helping others. Ed was a Renaissance Man. He enjoyed the Classics.

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If I had to characterize Ed, it would be “Fifth Business” from the famous novel by Canadian, Robertson Davies:

“Who are you? Where do you fit into poetry and myth? Do you know who I think you are, Ramsay? I think you are Fifth Business. “You don’t know what that is? Well, in opera in a permanent company of the kind we keep up in Europe you must have a prima donna — always a soprano, always the heroine, often a fool; and a tenor who always plays the lover to her; and then you must have a contralto, who is a rival to the soprano, or a sorceress or something; and a basso, who is the villain or the rival or whatever threatens the tenor.

“So far, so good. But you cannot make a plot work without another man, and he is usually a baritone, and he is called in the profession Fifth Business, because he is the odd man out, the person who has no opposite of the other sex. And you must have Fifth Business because he is the one who knows the secret of the hero’s birth, or comes to the assistance of the heroine when she thinks all is lost, or keeps the hermitess in her cell, or may even be the cause of somebody’s death if that is part of the plot. The prima donna and the tenor, the contralto and the basso, get all the best music and do all the spectacular things, but you cannot manage the plot without Fifth Business! It is not spectacular, but it is a good line of work, I can tell you, and those who play it sometimes have a career that outlasts the golden voices. Are you Fifth Business? You had better find out.”

Ed tried to revive Blawg Review, but it was clear that the Blawgosphere had changed; some say for the worse.  Ed was a teacher. He taught me the value of writing for writing’s sake. He thought that blawging benefited the blawger as much as the reader. Writing about what others have written was like a journey of discovery. As Robertson Davies also wrote in “Fifth Business:

I liked the company of most of my colleagues, who were about equally divided among good men who were good teachers, awful men who were awful teachers, and the grotesques and misfits who drift into teaching and are so often the most educative influences a boy meets in school. If a boy can’t have a good teacher, give him a psychological cripple or an exotic failure to cope with; don’t just give him a bad, dull teacher.

Ed was good company and a good teacher, in equal measure.

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It was a pleasant surprise to hear from Ed this summer, as we had lost contact over the last couple of years. The internet is a funny thing. Things that are vitally important one day, are easily forgotten in the ephemera and ether of our daily lives.

Ed told me he was in Toronto and invited me for a coffee. We met and, frankly, I didn’t recognize him. Not for the reason that Ed was nondescript. He wasn’t. It was that he had lost a tremendous amount of weight. We went across the street from my new office to Tim Horton’s. Ed regaled me with stories about his recent travels to Puerto Rico, where he stayed in a tent and lived a spartan existence, met many new friends and fellow world travelers.  Half way into the conversation, Ed finally confided in me that he was recently diagnosed with inoperable esophageal cancer and that the prognosis was not good. I was crestfallen, but tried not to show it. Ed was philosophical, as always.

He was genuinely proud of his accomplishments, the greatest in his own words, “My family, my children and my friends.”

BVws3tbCIAAkk8fEd asked me to keep the sad news about his health confidential. As I respected his anonymity, I respected his wishes. I gave Ed my copy of Brian Cuban’s new book, Shattered Image, for which he was genuinely grateful.

I just wish that I could tell his family that I considered Ed a mentor and a friend.

Ed, we hardly knew ye.

You will not be forgotten.

Rest in peace, my friend.

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