The Best Man Has Cancer

I don’t recall the first time I met Greg. I’m sure it was some moment in high school. We were both students at Tigard High School, though he was a year ahead of me. I knew some of his friends and was deeply twitterpated with one of them. Still I don’t remember meeting him there.

The first time I can remember meeting Greg and actually speaking to him was while visiting the now infamous college house of the “G Crew” boys. More about them later…

Greg was visiting the University of Oregon just like I was. Scott and I had just started dating and it was customary for us to make the three hour drive from Portland to Eugene nearly every weekend. Greg was attending school in Corvallis at Oregon State.

Those nights at 1140 Patterson Street were filled with beer, card games, loud music and despite the icky bachelor pad house, some of the best guys you’ll ever meet. We spent many weekends there and I’d have to say that Greg and I were usually the more sober kids. We drank, but for the most part neither of us ended up on the thirty year old shag carpet that hadn’t been vacuumed let alone cleaned since its installation!

There was one night in particular that I remember very clearly. It was special and I’m glad that I was there to witness it. It was I think, the first adult “holy crap we’re growing up” step they would witness and of course it was Greg who would jump into that adulthood ravine first.

He’d bought the ring. He was going to ask Shana to marry him.

The rest of the guys were so far away from making this sort of decision that Greg’s choice stuck out like a sore thumb. Of course I thought it was incredibly romantic and was instantly jealous of Shana, who I’d yet to meet.

He had a plan. He was going to fly down to Mexico where she was studying for the term, pop the question as soon as he got off the plane and they’d live happily ever after.

The other girls at the party and I “oohhed” and “awed” about his plan and toasted him with our fuzzy navel wine coolers.

The next morning all of the visitors sleeping in the basement slowly woke as the sunshine filtered though the small foundation windows. Scott, still half asleep rolled over and very clearly, very loudly said “Yes Erin, it’s two months salary,” as if he was completely disgruntled for having to tell me. He was of course referring to the cost of an engagement ring, but I’d never asked. His subconscious was working overtime. Greg and I both had a good chuckle out of it.

Greg and Shana did get married a year or so later. They were the first in our little crowd to do so. Scott was Greg’s best man and the next year Greg would serve the same role for Scott when he and I married. Shana was also a bridesmaid for me. Greg would recount the “Two Months Salary” story in his toast at our wedding. Our lives would be interwoven for years, vacations to the beach, trips to Seattle, moving them into various apartments and eventually the boys became business partners.

In 2006 our Best Man was diagnosed with cancer. Happily ever after was challenged by Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and today he still fights it.

Last night on my way home from work I was sitting in my car, thinking about Greg and was working to recall some of my memories. I’ve known him so long now that many of them have faded and are harder to picture. So I decided that I needed to write down what I remember, least I forget even one of them. This is the beginning of that task, though I don’t know that it will really be a task. Reliving memories is a trip back in time to some great moments.

A few of those G-Crew boys like to tease me that I remember more about those college days than they do. Not entirely surprising considering the beer consumption in that time. I think that as I begin to work on putting the memories to paper I will actually be writing out the story of the G-Crew. I’m wondering if I should change the names to protect the not so innocent? I’m wondering if they really have any idea about the things I remember?

For now though, I’ll focus on Greg and my many memories with him. Like the time we tried to go crabbing in Newport and our frozen chicken bait floated away. Or maybe the time he and Shana came to visit us in Sherwood when we played Truth or Dare Jenga and Greg ended up wearing Shana’s pajamas on a dare. He was such a good sport. So many memories….

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