A few weeks ago my friend Ray Summer passed away after a long battle with Crohn’s disease and cancer. During the last stretch of his life, he called me from a hospice in the Bronx to tell me that I had been a good friend to him and to say good-bye. I told him that he is a good friend to me as well, and he thanked me for keeping it in the present tense. Then we had a conversation like we usually would. I told him about what was going on with me, what band my girlfriend was playing in, etc. We ended the conversation with me saying, “I hope to talk to you again.” A few days later he was in critical condition and only a little over a week he passed away.
Ray was a big fan of the show Lost, as am I. When he knew that he didn’t have much time left, he mentioned to me that he was going to contact a producer of the show to try to find out what happens at the end of the series, which will not be revealed until May of 2010. I decided to take up his cause, and made it my mission to find the info for him, trying about four different avenues of contacts, including getting two letters to J. J. Abrams’ office. The last time I spoke to Ray, he asked me if my leads had led to dead ends, and I said, “No! I’m still working on it!” And I was! I was told by J. J. Abrams’ agent’s office to follow up with them the following week. Ray was excited by the prospect. He said he would sign a nondisclosure document if they needed him to.
I never got the chance to make that call to the agent’s office. If Ray was still here, I would still be working on it. At first I was disappointed that I didn’t get the info for him, but now I am happy that I was able to do something that gave Ray something to get excited about in the last days of his life. If there is something that can get you excited while you are in a hospice for the terminally ill, then there is some value in it, whether it gets accomplished or not. That’s what I think, at least.
It says a lot about the bravery and spirit that Ray had. That he could still find enjoyment in life, all the way to the end. That he had the strength to make a phone call like that, despite the physical shape he was in. It was important for him to reach out and connect with people. And he kept up his great sense of humor all the way to the end.
I miss Ray and I do hope to talk to him again. There is a tree in Central Park that is dedicated to Ray that will serve as his memorial. I will miss the lunches I had with Ray at the Westway Diner, so maybe one of these days I will get a take-out meal from the Westway and eat it by the tree. Sounds like a good idea.