Tuesday, August 14, 2012

May You Rest in Peace, Berke. You Were the Best Neighbor, and Friend, Anyone Could Ask For. You Will Be Sorely Missed.

In loving memory of Berke Erku.  We sure miss you...now, and forever.  Wish you were here.

Dear Berke,

It's raining today in New York City.  Tears of sadness and grief for your passing so soon.  Though I didn't know you for very long, from the day you moved in, we quickly became close friends.  Two peas in an East Village pod.  Remember I used to joke that we were like the neighbors from that Tim Allen show, Home Improvement, where we spoke to each other through the fence but never actually saw each other?  But that was not entirely true.  We spent more time together over the past 7 months than I can count.  Enough time to consider you a close and dear friend.  Which is why I, along with your friends and family, are overcome with grief to learn of your tragic death in Amsterdam.

Berke, you were the best neighbor, and friend, a girl could ask for.  The nicest person around, always willing to help someone out.  You were a shoulder to cry on, to laugh with and just an all around fantastic person.  And will be sorely missed.

Although I'm sure you're somewhere up there, partying with Steve Jobs and God on their iClouds,in the sky don't forget our roof, OK?  And visit us once in a while up there, if you're still hanging around.  You're always welcome, which I'm sure you already know.  In the meantime, don't forget the church across the street that used to wake us up every Sunday morning with church bells loud enough to raise the dead.  Don't forget the boys and girls club next to your apartment that you could ridiculously hear basketball games through your wall.  Don't forget my blog party, and the fact that your favorite part of the whole night was my Trader Joe's tomatoes.  Don't forget that joke you played on me afterwards by calling pretending to be the police, demanding $2,000 for a noise violation citation in that horrible Boston accent.  Remember, how I fell for it hook, line and sinker?  Almost gave me a heart attack, but hilarious, nonetheless.  And last but not least, don't forget me.  Cause I sure won't forget you.

Berke, do you remember one of the last conversations we had (via text)? It went something like this: I wrote: "how are you?" And you said: "god" (typo for good).  Then I wrote: "what a coincidence, I'm god too." And you said: "Good.  I only speak to the divine."  Well, Berke, now you do.  I hope you're networking it up with all those Gods and Goddesses up there, chatting it up with the divine.  And we hope you're having a fantastic time, just like you always did here on earth.  Doesn't make missing you any easier, though.  Sucks. It really does.  More than words can describe, actually...But we will try to carry on in your place.  Wipe those tears away and eat Icee Pops in your honor.  I might even get them delivered, just like you...

We wish you were still here with us, Berke.  We really do.  Until we meet again, my dear friend...May the good lord, shine a light on you...warm, like the evening sun.

PS. I have your plant. Matt gave it to me, so please haunt him if you have any issues with me taking over it's care :)  I will keep it alive in your honor, my friend.  It's on my balcony now...same spot you had it.  Should feel right at home...


  1. This is such a great post! I knew Berry as well and I will miss him dearly... Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Ryan. I miss him dearly too...with any luck we can aspire to be as awesome as a person as he already was when we knew him!

  3. What a beautiful post!! I will think of him every time I set the table for my family!! You were a little crazy but you were an awesome human being and a great friend to my husband!! RIP Berry!! You were loved by MANY!!

  4. Thank you for posting. I couldn't find anything else on the internet. I haven't seen Berry since he lived here in Chicago. We were on the same team when we worked at Careerbuilder. Your words were amazing so I won't muck it up but I will say that Berry's rough edges where nothing compared to his amazing work ethic and good heart. To this day, I still have not met a better salesperson. You were without doubt the best Berry. You will be missed. RIP


  5. Thanks for your comment, Nick. I'm sure he was an amazing salesperson. Could probably sell sand on a beach...

    PS. Comments never muck anything up FYI... Much appreciated :) Take care.

  6. I’m very pleased to see something like this put together for you Dags, when I Googled your name today. Thanks DJ DL-O. This really means a lot to everyone who knew Berke. Writing this post is bringing me back to how I felt the day I heard the news on 08/03/12. I’m going to miss talking to you every day during the work week. You would always call me at least 5 to 6 times a day at work just to say what’s up and they would never be longer than 2 to 3 minute conversations. Every time you would start off the conversation by saying, “What up Dags” or “Are you down to kick it or what Dags?” I would always say, “Yeah, I’m down to kick it are you?” You would always laugh and say, “Yeah right you never kick it Dags” or “Mother f*%ker I’m always down to kick it.”

    I always used to tell you Dags, that you were living life for both of us. I would always listen intently to the stories you had about your life experiences and would always be in amazement of what you’ve seen and done in life. A lot of times I would have you retell me a story years later, but it was never with the same full detail because you had so many more new life experiences to replace the old ones with.

    You are my best friend Dags. You never did me wrong or turned your back on me. You’ve done a lot for me over the years and I’m forever grateful for that. You’ll be forever missed by a lot of family, friends and myself. You are one of a kind Dags in so many different ways. You were never afraid to speak your mind, stand your ground and go for yours. You would always tell me, “Are you ever going to go for yours Dags?” I would always just give you an excuse and say, “someday Dags I will go for mine someday.”

    As I look at the calendar and look at that date of 08/30/12 when you were supposed to come back home to MN for labor day weekend. I can only wish you were still here so we had more time to kick it Dags. I promised you one day that I would say this for you if it ever came the time to do so. BERKE ERKU WAS ALWAYS DOWN TO KICK IT!!!!

    RIP Brother you will be forever missed

    Your best friend to the end


    1. many thanks for putting this together and for your kind words. Berke was my firstborn; losing him has been quite a blow to me and to his brother Emre. Berke was a great human being and had so much to offer. His presence, though cut short with a tragic drowning accident, will continue to be felt in our hearts and minds. I am so proud of him! While my heart aches, I will try to find solace in our memories. Please know that he's been laid to rest next to his father at Ulus cemetery in Istanbul--along the Bosphorus. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you, ffe.

      Feride Erku (Berke's mom in Minneapolis)

    2. Dear Feride,

      Words can't describe how sorry I am for your loss. Berke was a great man and will be missed by many. I miss him every day. His memory will live on in our hearts and minds for years...probably decades to come. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time. If there is anything I can do to be helpful, please don't hesitate to ask.

      In any case, Berke was able to do what most people only hope and aspire to. He was an inspiration. If only we could all be so charismatic, so enthusiastic, so alive. I take solace in the fact that he lived a fuller life by the age of 33 than most of us only wish we could.

      Take care of yourself, Feride. I'm always here if you want to chat/share memories, or anything else. I feel like I know you cause Berke spoke so much about you (though we met briefly when Berke helped me break into my apartment after locking myself out)

  7. Thank you for writing such a beautiful post about Berke. DJ DL-O, I don't if you'll remember it, but we met very briefly in late May on your rooftop. My mother (Berke's aunt) and I had driven up to NYC from Baltimore with Berke, and we were having a beer with Berke on his rooftop. You were on the other side of the fence and we briefly said hello to each other.

    Berke was my cousin, and he was 7 years older than me. I'll always fondly remember our family trips together as children, and I'm especially grateful that we spent quite a lot of time together this past year. Anyone who has ever met him will know that he instantly added intense energy, intelligence, humor, wit, and charisma to any setting. He was a good, kind, caring, and loving person. Above all, he was brutally honest. I'm proud to have had a close relative like him.

    I will remember him often and miss him dearly.

    His loving cousin,


  8. I'm sad to learn of Berry's death.
    I met Berry when I was 19. I was a young punk kid from South Phoenix. We met at ASU.
    My life was basically a scholarly gangster. I got to ASU on scholarships and then basically formed a small clique. Berry was known as Barricade. He was always the muscle.
    I'm pretty sad to hear about his death. We have loosely kept in touch over the years and he got to meet my son who is now 3. I'm not the man I was at 19. Berry too was a different man from the times of infinite youth where death was never an option. We smiled at death.
    I could write a book with all the stories we had. Berry, Ryan, KC, Sweets.........we were dumb and naive, but ready and willing to walk on the edge of life and law. He had a picture of him which depicted him as scar face drawn on the wall of is freshman dorm. "I drew that" he said. He was of course lying, had a local resident artist paint it on his behalf. He was never one to avoid exaggeration to the point of lying. He was passionate like that. He stayed at my house the day before he left phoenix forever. For four years we bled on each other's lives.
    I thought our clique would grow old together and periodically get together to catch up. I guess after many years I'm still naive.
    To all the folks that befriended Berry before and after me, I thank you for being there for him. I always felt a need to protect him and care for him. He was like a brother I looked out for. Regardless of how others saw him, I saw an innocent kid inside of him that loved and cared for deeply others. I know he cared about me. I hope somehow his mom and brother some way could get word that I wish them my deepest condolences. I wish I was around to pay my respects. I just found out today and it's a little much to find out.
    B, I'm atheist, you know me. If maybe I'm wrong and my words reach beyond this dimension, I loved you and miss you already. You never gave me more than 3 minutes on the phone either, even when we were catching up. You know what, we never needed more time. It was enough. I just needed to know you were ok. You meant a lot to me.
    DJ D-Lo......Thank you for venue to put this out. Thank you for being his friend. It feels good to know Berke was out infecting the world with his crazy ways. B, thank you for entering my life.

  9. One thing that I never allowed to see – one thing that I would scratch and claw to the bone to see – was my father giving lessons to my brother on how to play the cello. I wasn’t born yet and my brother quit playing once I made my way into this world, so I missed out on all of their lessons. I truly wish I could’ve been there for those lessons – my father delicately stroking the chords of his violin, pacing from one end of the room to the other as my brother sits sternly on a plastic chair, almost hugging his body sized cello, frantically trying to harmonize with my father’s pristine notes. Just the thought of it is beyond precious to me; so precious, and, yet, intangible. Something that has never happened to me is what I cherish the most in this life, besides my mother.


  10. I didnt know a heart could physically break until you were gone......I miss you Berry

  11. Dear Berke, you are respectful and chivalrous.....a qualtiy many women want.....but never find....want but never get....want but never treat right.....you will be missed now and forever!

  12. Dear Berke,

    You brought so much to this world - you were charismatic, handsome, spontaneous, successful, smart, interesting, all the things that people aspire to be. Your passing removes so much laughter and joy from the lives of all the people you've touched. It doesn't make sense that you are gone, but God sometimes calls the best of us to his side.

    My prayers will always be with your family and friends.

  13. Hey Berry,

    My fellow Minnesota Vikings fanatic! I still have the text on my phone from April telling you all about the amazing apartment with it's own private roof deck that has views of the Empire State Building! I know we only knew each other during a brief and frenzied East Village apartment search but as everyone can attest you make an impression:) I'm so glad that we found you not only an apartment but a true friend in your next door neighbor. I'll try to make it down to Bar None for the next Vikes game like you always said I should. See you after.

  14. It is March 1st and my heart is still bleeding. I am grateful to all of you for your thoughts and prayers. Please remember my son every so often, will you. With my best wishes, ffe.

    Feride Erku (B's mom)

  15. Berke would have been 35 on 12/25/13. They say time heals. Well, tell that to a grieving mother. One piece of good news to share though: Emre, B's beloved bro, just graduated from college. I hope Berke's friends continue to think of him once in a while.
    Regards, ffe.

    Feride Erku

  16. I always think of him, time cannot heal, all we can do is to hold on the good memories.

  17. Thank you for posting. I heard some vagueness about what had happened. This helped! Berry and I worked together at CareerBuilder. He wore his heart/emotions on his sleeve and I was glad to know him. My fondest memory was when we won a company trip to the Super Bowl - Bear vs Colts... At the game, a Bears player got a little injured and Berry yelled, "Oh give him some Lou Malnati's and he'll be alright!", which made the crowd around us roar in laughter.

  18. it's been two years since Berke's passing. The heaviness in my heart is hard to endure but I try to keep busy, teaching, growing flowers, etc. Berke would've been pleased to hear about Emre's job as a journalist. Hoping my memories will sustain me with the passage of time,ffe.

    Feride Erku (Berke's and Emre's mom)

  19. Didn't know this blog existed. But better late than never. Been thinking about you Berke, you are still missed. I think about all the crazy nights that ran through sun-up with me, E-Dub, and Mick. You were always there for your boys and we miss you.

    Until we meet again, keep a spot open in heaven for me.

    To Feride: Yes we still think of him and miss him dearly.


  20. Wishing my precious son Berke a Happy Birthday! He would have been 36 on 12/25/14. Thank you for thinking of him. His brother Emre and I keep him alive in our hearts & minds.

    Feride Erku (Berke's & Emre's mom) ffe.

  21. As we celebrate our beloved Berke's 37th birthday, Emre and I continue to cherish his memory with aching hearts. Emre has become a successful journalist and I continue to teach linguistics at Hamline University. Our thanks to all of you for keeping Berke in your minds. Best, ffe.

    Feride Erku (Berke's & Emre's mon)

  22. Berke would have been 38th tomorrow. Time has done little to ease the pain in my heart. One simply learns not to cry every day or look miserable to others. On the bright side, Berke would have enjoyed seeing his bro become a successful journalist. Please continue to remember my Berke. He so cherished his friends. Best, ffe.

    Feride Erku (Berke's & Emre's mother)

  23. December 25th is just around the corner. Our beloved Berke would have been 39 this year. He is always in my heart and on my mind. Now his beloved uncle Ferit is with him too. Emre continues to do well, and teaching keeps me busy. Please raise a glass to Berke's memory on 12/25. Best, ffe.
    Feride Erku (Berke's and Emre's mom)