I had the pleasure of meeting Pat through my best friend. They played on the same soccer team, and it was immediately apparent how good Pat was. He had a real grace and ease about him on the soccer field. Aside from all the flowery talk, he was an incredibly good looking guy. He commanded attention on and off the field. He was fun, and we'd go out for drinks together as a group. He would laugh off jokes about how nice his legs were, as they were insanely muscular and covered in black hair. He had no problem poking fun at himself, and being completely self-deprecating. He had a great sense of humor, and showed it off many times with his Halloween costumes. Even last year, when (in a wheelchair) he dressed as Lieutenant Dan to his brother's Forrest Gump.
I later ended up in a few college courses with Pat, and sat behind him in one. We would talk, roll eyes at the professor (gasp, never!), and do group work together. It was great to get to know him outside of the downtown bar scene. I'm glad to have known him as a fun party animal AND an intelligent academic.
As many times as I've been around Pat, I've never seen him without a smile. I'm going to remember that about him.
Pat was diagnosed with ALS, and it took him over so quickly. It was really hard to watch one of the most athletic guys I know affected by a disease that essentially takes your body from you. The amazing thing, though, is that it didn't steal his spirit. Pat remained Pat until the end. Although, I hadn't seen Pat much in the last few years, I kept tabs on how he was doing. I chose to keep a bit of distance, while still attending fundraising events, and sending him the occasional message to let him know I was thinking of him. I didn't want to take away any time from his close friends and family (which he had many), as their time with him was limited. I'm sorry that I didn't take the chance to tell him how much I admire his strength and continued sense of humor throughout this ordeal. He was much too young to leave this Earth so soon.
I've seen so many people I love affected by ALS this year. My roommate and her sister recently lost their stepdad, Benny, to ALS. Now...Pat. I can say with all sincerity that I would like to kick ALS squarely in the balls. (Sorry, Mamie!)
In the end, I hope that Pat went peacefully, and in some way, on his own terms. ALS takes from you so many things that we take for granted every single day. This loss reminds me that when you have your health, you have so much more than you realize. I have no reason to feel like I can't get out of bed, or that I can't get up and do something... anything. I have the ability, and shouldn't waste it. I've been complaining about turning 30 this week, but at least I had the chance to turn 30. Thanks to Pat (and the other friends and family I've lost too soon), I'll remember not to take this life for granted.
Rest in peace, Pat. I'm sure you're up there scoring goals, wearing crazy Halloween costumes and laughing when the angels tease you about your legs. Say hey to Benny.