Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

An explanation: Why I am devastated

When my wife came home from school today, I started telling her that I’m more devastated over Brian Hickey’s accident and ensuing struggle than anything I’ve been through since my grandmother’s death nine years ago. I explained to her how I was somewhat confused by my feelings; that while Hickey and I have long been friends, we hadn’t seen one another in several years, etc.
“Well, it probably relates to your mortality,” she said. “You have two kids, you’re the same age …”
I stopped her, because I strongly disagreed. Though I obsess over death waaaay too often, what’s going on right now has little to do with myself. Why am I so down? Because Brian Hickey is a 35-year-old guy who should be living life to the fullest—who does live life to the fullest—and right now he’s in a hospital bed, unconscious and clinging to life. I don’t know what his future holds, and it kills me. I want him to stand up, right fucking now, get out of bed, pick up the phone and greet me with a “Yo!” or “Yo, bitch!”
I am devastated because this is somebody I like and respect and admire, and I want his life to be fruitful and exciting, not … this. It’s cliche to say “so-and-so doesn’t deserve this” because, really, who deserves this? But Hickey truly is different. He’s always had an insanely large personality: Big, booming voice; throaty laugh, West-side hip-hop sensibilities in a white kid from the outskirts of Philly.
I was thinking the other day about Hickey in college, and what I remember: Best story (and most humiliating, from my vantage point) took place during my senior year, when I agreed to appear on a local news station’s piece on people choosing virginity. (Quick explanation: A few months earlier I’d written a column for the student paper on how I was a virgin. The TV station thought it was admirable—but, truth be told, I only wrote it because I knew I’d imminently be having sex, and then the opportunity would pass. By the time the network had called, I’d been de-flowered for quite a while. Oh, and I wasn’t a virgin because of any lifestyle choice. I was a virgin because I couldn’t get laid).
Anyhow, I sat for the interview for the segment, and when it came out, well, it was absolutely, positively mortifying. I’ve shown it to my wife, and she l-o-v-e-s it (as a mocking tool, nothing more). At one point I made some stupid comment like, “Being a man means doing something you’re good at, like playing a sport or being editor of the student newspaper. Being a man doesn’t mean sticking your, heh-heh, thing in a woman, heh-heh, and having sex. That’s not a real man.” I wish I could better illustrate the laugh, but it was the geekiest, most pathetic, most virginy sound in world history.
So the piece ends, and I’m feeling sorta weird, sitting in the college newspaper office, and the phone rings.
“Yo, it’s Hickey.”
“Saw the news.”
“I was just wondering.”
“Do you wanna stick your, heh-heh, thing in a girl’s heh-heh, vagina? Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh.”
Then Hickey cracked up.

Man, I sooooooooo badly want him to overcome this. I’ve got tears welling in my eyes right now, writing. This guy is too strong, too big, too lively to go down like this.