COLUMN: To my friend Zack Boyer: Thank you


Dear Zack,

I never thought I would be writing about this, but life works in mysterious ways.

When I first arrived at Central Michigan University in 2016 I felt way out of place, trying desperately to make new friends. As I began to get my feet wet in journalism, I met a dude in the Central Michigan Life office who was wearing a Lions jacket, a dynamite smile and one of the friendliest faces I have ever seen. 

We immediately talked football and how you knew my high school football coach from another job you had. 

Very quickly, we became friends. We both loved sports, had aspirations of covering an NFL or NHL team, owned a wicked sense of humor and had the same mediocre luck when it came to dating. We were (somewhat) one-and-the-same. 

While I can’t properly describe our connection, I can describe you as a floor hockey defenseman -- terrible. 

In hindsight, if you hadn't put buying me Taco Bell after each game into my 2018 “contract” I probably wouldn’t have played. 

If they kept my goaltending stats, I guarantee, I faced 50-60 shots a night and had a goal against average north of 10 after so many 12-1 and 15-0 losses. But hey, at least I own the franchise record in wins and shutouts with two solely because the teams we were supposed to play that week didn’t show up.

We constantly cracked jokes whether it was in the halls, desk meetings, the Cabin, or in class that made the rest of class roll their eyes. My confidence as a writer, which I thought was gone forever, started to return as we reviewed each other's assignments. 

We were set to take the world by storm.

Then the two brain tumors came from out of nowhere. You would spend the next year and a half fighting with everything you had. I saw the progress you were making, and a part of me hoped that you would beat cancer, come back to school and we graduate together. 

But things turned south when the third tumor appeared a few weeks ago, pressing on the nerves to your spinal cord and respiratory system. That later turned into MRSA pneumonia on Aug. 27.

Then, as I returned home from a desk meeting on Sept. 1 - not as a reporter, but as the editor of the publication that brought us together in the first place - my worst nightmare came to life. 

At 24 years young, you were gone.  

Just like that, I lost my second close friend in just over two months, and I still don’t understand why, of all people, it has to be you.

You were the type of person that could make me laugh in an instant. You are the type of person that the universe just doesn’t make anymore.

There is only one way to describe you, Zack Boyer. One of a kind.

My heart is broken because I’ll never hear your infectious laugh again. I’ll never invoke the clause in my goalie contract to get Taco Bell on your dollar. But most of all, I feel like the one person that I felt like I meshed the best with within the journalism department has been ripped away for some cruel, unfair reason that I will never fully comprehend. 

While I’m balling my eyes out right now trying to finish writing this, I know that not all of my tears are from sadness. In fact, Dr. Suess put it best:

"Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

Yes I am devastated right now. I know how hard you fought for your life until you took your final breath. However, I don’t think anyone on this planet will understand how grateful and humbly honored that for five years I got to call you a friend

I love you and miss you Zack. I’ll see you on the other side.