Hour two in this plane hospice,
The pilot calmly explained that we’re just waiting on word from Dallas, no biggie, we’ll be in the sky shortly. We’ve been here for two hours? How is this guy so calm, I’m sure he’s probably killed a man, that’s why. Even worse, my last-hope connection through Chicago was looking more and more dim. Still, there’s hope. Then a call came in from Chive Charities’ Angie Cone. Tommy Kim had passed away.
The last time I saw Tommy he was in the office because, for the first time in two years, he was declared cancer free. He told me a year earlier, “Through my first brain surgery and the chemo afterwards I remember thinking one thing. I’m going to beat this and go to theCHIVE bar, belly up to the bar, take a deep breath, and drink a beer there. That will be my celebration”
And so he beat cancer and he came to the bar and we sat there, he and I, on an idle tuesday and drank beer.
This was a year ago, I honestly didn’t know the cancer had come back. I should have kept in better touch, and then one day after his 36th birthday, he passed away. Just like that. Angie called me and told me the news. We’d gone four years without losing a Chive Charities recipient and we’ve lost four now and each time slams your head harder against the pavement for the same reason – they all go too soon.
So now I’m crying next to the dude sitting next to me on the flight. This guy was awesome. You know how you’re trying to stifle the cry but then a tear escapes and you play it off like something’s in you eye? But then you can’t stop and you start shaking – it’s the hallmark of the muffled cry, you’re not fooling anybody. Anyway, we’ve been trapped in this aluminum tube for two hours and he probably thinks I’m losing my shit but instead of ignoring it he ordered me a bloody mary. This dude is one of today’s small heroes.
But the real hero, he was gone now.