We buried my dear friend Bob Eisendrath last weekend and on Monday I woke up feeling more peaceful than I had in months, probably because I am so relieved to have him back home in West Tisbury. He was 94 and simply didn’t have the heart for his last battle.

A few hours before he died, I was waiting in line at a car wash 3,000 miles away, telling him that the hospice people said it was time for him to go and that I’d ride my bike over to visit him in the West Tisbury Cemetery, as we had often discussed. His son Noah, holding the phone to his ear, said that he smiled.

Bob was a psychiatrist and I imagined him chuckling and saying, “Our conversations might be a little more one-sided then — the way it was with my patients.”

I had almost said, “I’ll visit you every day at the cemetery,” but he would have frowned at that. “Life is for the living,” he admonished me, on more than one occasion. “Don’t waste your time ruing the past and getting all melancholy.”

Easier said than done.

The first time I rode a bike through the West Tisbury Cemetery was August 1, 1978. I had just graduated high school and come to the Vineyard for the month as a babysitter with the Eisendraths. It was my first time here, as my own family preferred the mountains and lakes of New Hampshire. I remember glimpsing the Island from the Naushon, clutching the two little boys so they wouldn’t climb the rail, wondering how I hadn’t known this place existed.

That very first evening after supper we took a bike ride together down Middle Road to the Panhandle and then past the cemetery.

“This family sure doesn’t waste time,” I thought.

The new Agricultural Hall hadn’t been built yet and we rode beneath an endless green shade into the ruddy golden twilight. Everything smelled of freshly mown hay. Back then, the evenings here were cool — shorts and sweatshirt weather.

Many times over the next 40 summers, Bob and I would ride along the fence of the cemetery and watch the “new section” fill up. Sometimes he would tell me stories about the people he knew buried here but usually not, and only if they had lived to a ripe old age. Once or twice we put down our bikes to look at the old Vineyard families’ 19th-century tombstones across the dividing road, but he preferred to keep moving and take the shortcut to the bike path. Sometimes I would read the engravings and dawdle, and he would say, “Keep up.”

Bob loved history and never tired of listening to people. He mostly read nonfiction because, he said, true stories were better and more unbelievable than anything a fiction writer could concoct.

But I don’t think he liked cemeteries much. When my mother died, when I was in my mid-40s, we buried her in West Tisbury and the cold finality of lowering her ashes into the ground undid me. I was not prepared for it. I am not a gardener but the following summer I planted rows of flowers in front of her tombstone and would go over every day, sometimes twice, to water them. Then I would sit down and cry.

One day, Bob caught me. He jumped off his bicycle and told me to cut it out.

“It’s not good for you. You’re wasting your time and your mother wouldn’t like it.”

“I can’t help it. And how dare you tell me how to grieve.”

“Of course, you can help it. Try harder. And I’m not saying not to grieve. You will mourn your mother for the rest of your life, so you’ve got to learn to live with it. Your blubbering here at the cemetery is not going to help you. Pick up your bike and come along with me now to see the new pictures in the Red Barn.”

Bob believed in moderation in all things (except maybe Humphreys’ cookies). He was not belittling my grieving — as a psychiatrist and having lost a nine-year-old son, he was an expert on loss. But he would not abide wallowing. Exactly at what point sadness becomes wallowing is a mystery to me, and when I asked him the only thing he said was, “After some time.” He was all for stopping by to have a chat with my mother, he just didn’t want me to linger. There were too many other things to do.

We have lost so much, and so many, on the Vineyard. Some days it seems to me that most things are gone. But we must keep marching forward, embrace what is new, and fight to preserve what we can. We must make new friends. Life is for the living, and we must not squander it.

Easier said than done, sometimes.

Our last conversation was one-sided because Bob was too frail to reply. But I know what he would have said: “Stop by and say hello; I’ll be waiting. Tell me what’s happening and how you are. Just promise me you won’t linger.”

Holly Hodder Eger lives in Portola Valley, Calif. and West Tisbury. She is the author of Split Rock: A Martha’s Vineyard Novel.