June 22nd, 2007

The Zombie

A few words about a friend

June 21 -  I've got another change of pace for you tonight, and I hope you will understand why.  I've asked O.F.O.WOMP Eric Gillitzer to compose a few words about his friend, Kory Uher, who passed away on the 16th.  Eric's eloquent thoughts are posted here to honor Kory, and as an offer of my own sympathies to his friends and family.  Earlier today, Eric wrote the following -

Last week my friend Kory died.  He has been my friend for nearly 20 years. 

There’s a lot I could say about him.  I could talk about his strange pre-occupation with a small plush simian named “Gunga,” or his habit of randomly inscribing every flat surface with a Dead Kennedys logo. But those things are meaningless unless you were his friend.

I could tell you that due to a progressive condition, he was wheelchair bound and over time, lost the strength and mobility in his upper body as well.  Over time he even lost the ability to breathe on his own.  But frankly, none of that has anything to do with who he was.

What I will tell you is that Kory was a far better person than I am and probably stronger in all the ways that really matter.  He endured challenges and circumstances that would have emotionally crushed lesser people- and he did it with a humor and good nature that very few people can muster.  

Above even that, Kory was a friend- a better friend than I deserved.  He was never mean or spiteful even when I and others gave him more than ample reason to be.  Even his more sullen, stubborn mood lacked malice or cruelty.  He did what the greatest of friends do- he brought out the best in us.  It’s telling that for years, Kory was the center of a circle of friends that gathered at least briefly almost every night- musicians, athletes, artists and outcasts.  All together we formed a circle that would last far longer than any of us expected.

What did we do in that time?  We whined about a vile English teacher, played endless iterations of Street Fighter and Final Fantasy, read too much R.A. Salvatore, Weiss & Hickman, listened to bands that no longer exist, concluded that Jim Lee was the greatest thing since sliced bread, plotted Rob Liefeld’s demise, wondered what happened to Whilce Portacio.

Mostly though, we built worlds.  Worlds no one else ever saw, or even cared about.  Worlds just as flawed and frustrating as this one, but just a little different- worlds where things weren’t necessarily what we wanted them to be, but where we had the power to change that.  We built worlds where there were no limitations on what we could achieve and where we didn’t have to worry about ramps and fitting in and lives that were rarely picture perfect.  We were able to call forth versions of ourselves that we thought masked insecurities and short comings, but more often revealed who it was we really wanted to be- who we would be, if no one was looking.

Even after we had moved on, into other lives, waist-sizes, personalities and places, we continued to go back there- to visit those worlds and hold on to just a little bit of what we had and we needed to be together to do it.  We needed Kory.

Kory will be missed.  There is no way to fill the place he holds in the lives of his friends.  Instead, we’ll just have to be grateful for the time that we had with him and re-visit the memories of a little green card table, a bag of Doritos, gallons of soda and those worlds we built years ago.

Thank you, Eric.