Six months ago today, the world lost an inspirational and fun-loving guy with a big heart. Corey Hoover passed away on April 14th while awaiting a double-lung transplant. He battled to the end and touched many lives during his battle. His sister Ranee began “The Rise and Rise Again Foundation” to raise awareness for the need for organ donation.
I wrote the following letter the night that Corey passed and shared it with Ranee. She asked if she could post it on Facebook. I was honored. I was shocked when more than 350 people “liked” it on Facebook and more than 70 commented on it. That is a testament to how many people loved and cared for Corey. We haven’t forgotten you.
April 14, 2013
A Letter to Corey Hoover:
It might be a little weird to write a letter to someone who is no longer with us, but so be it. I wish I would have written this while you were still alive. Quite honestly, I just didn’t believe it was your time yet. But I believe that you will read this nonetheless.
I am still pretty much in shock. When I got the news, I had to get out of the house, so I decided to take a drive to clear my head a little and try to process all of this. I’ve always loved driving the cut-in-the-hill on I-75 North at night, where you come around the bend and, all of the sudden, the downtown skyline explodes in front of you, all lit up. It makes me proud to be from Cincinnati. I was driving along with a heavy heart and a Dave Matthews song came on the radio that says, “Life is short but sweet for certain.” That is the truth and it gave me goose bumps. I guess some lives are just shorter and sweeter than others. Too often, it is the lights that shine the brightest that have to go out first.
From what I know about you, you were nothing if not a shining light. I don’t know who Viktor Frankel was, but he said, “What is to give light must endure burning.” And you had to endure more burning than anyone I’ve ever known. You could have wallowed in self-pity, given up easy with a “Why me?” attitude. And no one really could have blamed you for that. Instead, you fought your ass off until the very end and kept an amazingly upbeat attitude. That is what I call character.
I’m not going to pretend that we were best friends. Though we have many, many mutual friends, we didn’t know each other that well. We were always friendly in passing, but never really got to spend time together for whatever reason. The one time we really hung out was at a friend’s house some time after high school. We started playing cornhole (“bean bag toss”) and making fun of our friend Craig’s shoelaces, which were roughly 18 inches too long. It seemed like the three of us played game after game, drank beer and cracked joke after joke for a few hours, like we had been best friends for years. We laughed so hard that most of the games were played through tears. That was years ago. I asked you a few weeks ago if you remembered that afternoon and you knew exactly what I was talking about. That was a fun day.
Life took us in different directions and we lost touch, until you reached out to me on Facebook about a memoir that I wrote. The book was pretty personal stuff about some very difficult things that I had gone through. You went out of your way to thank me for sharing my story and told me how it touched you. That was a pretty stand up thing to do and I will never forget that. You also shared your amazing story with me, which I also appreciated. I felt a friendship with a kindred spirit was born and I became one more person in a very lengthy list of people that was pulling for you in your fight.
The fact that you had so much love and support from so many just shows what kind of impact you had on others. I strongly believe you are looking down on all of those people right now and you are happy and humbled by the love. I also believe that you don’t have to fight any more–which is pretty foreign to you–and that you are patiently waiting to see all the people that you love again one day.
For the past several months an idea kept coming to me that people needed to hear your story. I ran it by your big sister Ranee and her sidekick Kami and they loved the idea. They said that you would be honored and that they knew you and I would have a great time together writing this book. You didn’t hesitate for a second when I asked if you’d be willing to lay it out for me, so I could try to do it justice. The four of us were all very excited and hoped that your story would touch a lot of people. We started making plans, but we didn’t have enough time. I think that is very unfortunate, because you were–you are–an inspiration and so many people would have been changed by you.
The people who knew you will never forget your fighting spirit and your love of life despite the extremely tough hand you were dealt. Author Anne Lamott said, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” That was you, my friend, and it was an honor to know you.
I pray that some good comes out of your untimely passing. You deserve that. From what I know about Ranee, good things are going to happen. I guess I just wanted to thank you for your example to the rest of us. You will be missed by many, but you already know that. I’m fairly certain that you don’t want anyone to be sad that you are gone, that you would rather we remember the good times and live life with a smile. Easier said than done, especially for your family and closest friends.
When I was little, my grandpa used to tell me that you don’t say “goodbye” to people that you care about. You say, “So long.” I think he was telling me that “goodbye” is too final; “so long” means “take care until I see you again, my friend.”
So long, Corey. I’ll see you down the road. We’ll play some cornhole, drink some beers and laugh our asses off.
Your friend Keith