I want to call the person in question a friend, though I can’t really.
Acquaintance is more likely the word, but I’m going with friend anyway.
I met Cory probably about a year ago. He looked like your typical white guy in his 20s, tattoos, piercings, dressed like a punk. When I met him he was pretty skinny, but from what some of my other friends told me, he used to be a pretty big guy. I assumed he just worked out or something, but I was told the contrary. The conversation went something like this:
Howard: He used to be a pretty big dude.
Me: So what, did he work out or something?
Howard: No, he had surgery.
Me: Oh, like got his stomach stapled?
Howard: No, like a large portion of it removed.
Me: But it was for weight loss, yeah?
Howard: No, he had cancer in his stomach, and most of it was removed.
So yeah, I found out the guy had cancer. But from what it seemed, he fought it, and won. Sure, he had a smaller stomach because of it, but no worries right? The first time I met Cory he came over to my house with Howard. He was soft spoken, but a genuinely nice guy. We instantly got along, and he fit in with the rest of the guys just fine. We went to the bar once together, and though he didn’t drink, he was nice enough to drive us there, hang out with us while we drank, and drove us home. I think that was the first time I ever had a designated driver, because we all know my friends are drunks.
The most recent time I saw him, he still looked good. We all assumed he would live the rest of his life cancer free, and he would be around hanging with us for a long time to come. I had stopped by All For Show to see what Howard and Herbie were up to after they got off, and Cory happened to stop by. I believe Shawn showed up as well. Anyway, we all bullshitted outside of the shop for a while, and then everyone went on their way to whatever it was they were doing that night.
I hadn’t seen him since. If I had to guess, that was 6 months ago. Earlier in the week I found out that Cory went into the hospital. Apparently there was an issue with something, but we didn’t know much about it. Some of my friends went to visit him in Loma Linda. Later in the week, he was moved to Hemet hospital, where he stayed until a couple days ago. From what my friends that visited said, he wasn’t doing so well. The doctors released him from the hospital, mainly because there wasn’t anything else they could do for him. The cancer spread into pretty much his entire body, undetected. They only gave him 24 hours to live. This was a couple days ago, and he’s still kicking, but no one has any idea when he’s going to go.
Gina attempted to visit him on the day he was released. She asked if I wanted to go, but I don’t deal with these things so well. I avoided my own grandmother’s funeral because I didn’t want to deal with it… it’s been buried inside ever since. The last funeral I went to was my grandfather’s, and I tried to tough it out, until my Mom started crying on my shoulder. Anyway, I declined going to the hospital to visit. She ended up not seeing him either because he was released on that day.
Today we hung out with Howard for a while, and ended up going over to Cory’s house. His family and a bunch of friends were there. I still didn’t want to go, even there, but I went anyway. When we arrived we found out that he had been sleeping most of the day, and that he was asleep at that moment. Gina went in to see him, but I didn’t. I would rather remember him as the good looking kid he was, rather than a shell of his former self.
So no one knows how long he’s going to last. The worst part is, today was his birthday… he’s only 22.
Dealing with this all day, I’ve had some time to think. I’ve realized some things about my life that I want to change. A lot of my friends were talking about a lot of different things that Cory had said, about his kids, about his life and what will happen when he dies. I’m not going to share these things, but they hit close to home nonetheless. There are things have happened in my life, things that I can’t change, and patterns that have formed. I realized that I can keep history from repeating itself if I pay attention, and make the right decisions. I realized that this life is all we have (particularly someone like myself who doesn’t believe in an afterlife), and sometimes we focus on the wrong things, when we should be appreciating what we have, because it can be taken from us in an instant. I no longer want to strive for things that are meaningless, I want to appreciate those whom I hold dear, and I want to put out more effort in the things that matter most. I do not fear death, but I don’t want to waste what life I have left on stupid shit.