The air was warm, so full of scent and the day’s heat, it was almost as if another living thing enveloped him. The citrusy tang of new grass and the sweetness of sun warmed flowers filled his nose. Being out among the rolling grasslands, the dune covered beaches, and the simplicity of nature had always sustained him. No matter where he was, he would always have this communion with nature. He closed his eyes and it was Heaven.
Eric Mathew Riley was born cradled by a warm spring breeze on April 14, 1971, just as he was the day he died on May 5, 2019. He spent 48 years taking in the world around him, and each day he searched for the beauty of it. Born in Enumclaw and a lifelong resident of Buckley, he didn’t have to stray far to find the glory and splendor of the earth. The glacier fed rivers knew the feel of his boots along their shores and the swish of his line as he cast out; the Evergreens knew the weight of him as he rested after a long day of hunting through their forests; and the snow dusted mountains knew the sound of joy only Eric could make when he hit a jump so perfectly that invisible wings and not skis made him fly over the slopes.
Whether it was a day of off-roading through the hills or across sand dunes with his Uncle Bill, setting up camp and telling tales with family, or holding his sons close as fireworks competed with bonfires for the loudest crackles in their ears, Eric’s life was fueled by the outdoors.
He enjoyed cooking and trying new flavor combinations. Excitement ran through him with each new remodeling project or car to fix up. He relished being a father, son, brother, uncle, and nephew. But nature is loved by what is best in us, and when taken to heart it ensures an endless blossoming, a resilience, and forges a path for future generations. Eric knew that we don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. Now he has left his piece of it to his sons Carsten and Cole Riley. Eric’s mother Patricia Bolieu; his father Charles Riley; stepfather Henry LaCoss; sisters Trina (Wiley) Montgomery, Rachelle (John) LaCoss, April (Lonny) McLean, and Sara Gagley; his nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends remain to remind others what Eric knew. There is a way that nature speaks, the land speaks. We must be patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.
Eric’s story will be celebrated at 1 p.m. on Sunday May 19, 2019 at Weeks’ Funeral Home in Buckley, Washington. A reception, full of the sights, tastes, smells, and sounds of Eric’s life, will follow at the home of his sister, Trina Montgomery (23915 108th St Ct E, Buckley, WA 98321).