Charles “Ed” Brown’s death is proof that we never quite know what’s going on with someone

A lawyer with an eye patch. What could go wrong in a courtroom? I always got a solid kick out of Charles “Ed” Brown, the personal injury attorney of the law practice Brown and Brown who built a reputation as a strong yet sweet presence in St. Louis before his suicide this week at the age of 61.

Along with his brother, Dan, Ed promised people that if you couldn’t come to them, they would come to you. The brothers built their empire off suave marketing tools, self-promotion that only toed the border of self-deprecation. It was the brothers’ way of connecting with the people, the ones who trusted them-and trust is exactly what Ed and Dan gave since 1993 when Brown and Brown opened.

It’s that family type atmosphere that connects people like Ed to so many souls. The extra mile and care one can show in what usually can be uncomfortable ordeals. He made everyone seem like he was with them. That’s why his passing stings so bad. It seemed to come out of nowhere, most likely to Brown’s ability to mask his personal condition and fight on.

Brown’s message to people who asked why he took his own life was even more heartbreaking. In a report via The St. Louis Post Dispatch, a spokesperson for The Brown and Brown law firm said that Ed wanted to tell people who wondered why he took his own life that he was “sick and dying.” From the outside, we saw an eye patch wearing lawyer who made life easy for his clients, someone who shouldered the task. On the inside, he was battling a serious illness. The message was more than likely a reason to deter those who would attach his demise to COVID-19. That was not the case.

Sometimes, the map can’t be seen from the outside, only the design of the journey. If there’s one thing that I try to get myself better at, it’s not jumping to conclusions about strangers and why they do certain things. The person who cut you off could be going through hell without a flashlight. The cashier who messed up your order didn’t do it personally. She’s having an off day like you do once every two weeks. We all wake up and do our best to deal, but little is relative in life when it comes to personal problems. Ed was dying, and we didn’t know.

That’s life and its most sinister twist. The ability to confuse, confound, and paralyze our own expectations. If you are pushing 40 like myself, every out-of-nowhere death can be a wakeup call.

I won’t alter my life after Ed’s unfortunate passing, but I can pull away the thought that reinforces the fact that it’s best to cut people some slack. If you don’t even know them, how can you really tell what could be wrong with them? Even their closest family and friends may not be privy to that information.

I do know he served people well here and went above and beyond in his job. You can tell those kinds of things by the outcry in response to his death. Someone like Steve Savard dishing his own take on Twitter on the Ed Brown experience:

Sometimes, you just don’t know what the weather is like in someone else’s head. Ed Brown is a sad but true case of that belief.

Thanks for reading and call your siblings tonight. Say hello and connect, because you just never know. 2020 has taught us this much.

*This is as good of a time as any to remind you that the suicide hotline is 800-273-8255. Don’t hesitate to call. Sometimes, a safe and unbias conversation can help. 

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