Harry O was a regular participant in “Letters 2 TL”.
It’s that mailbag that brought us together.
Harry made me feel relevant, like my opinion mattered and was somehow more important than his.
“Letters” connected us in the cyber world and eventually paved the way to a friendship in the real world.
The first time I met Harry he was a custodian for Safe Management during Ravens training camp at McDaniel College. I was both flattered and humbled by his affinity for our work but that wasn’t the reason we became friends.
It was Harry’s passion that I found to be so endearing – passion for his family, his friends, his Ravens Nest 14, his country, and of course the Baltimore Ravens.
He fought his cancer passionately fueled by his faith. Not long ago he wrote to me.
“I thank the Lord every day, for the good things that come my way and just ignore the bad stuff. My Pastor, Fr. Joe Lacey tells me all the time, ‘Harry, when you wake up just grab the good stuff.’ And I do.”
By chance Harry had the opportunity to meet John Harbaugh recently and Harbs, a man of faith and strong convictions as well, probably saw the same in Harry. The connection was immediate.
Harry often reminded me of Coach Harbaugh’s words and how they helped fuel his willingness to fight his cancer.
“Coach grabbed my hand and told me, ‘Harry, you are gonna beat this.’ I don’t know if I will but that was a great pregame speech!”
Harry suffered greatly during his last couple of months but he fought courageously driven by love for his family and of course the pregame speech.
Harry’s lovely bride Audrey kept me current on my friend’s progress and it became very obvious that Harry would lose the “game”. Audrey described one of their last moments together.
“I don’t know how he managed to do it but Monday night I crawled into his hospital bed and he was able to put his arm around me and give me a good hug. We talked and I asked him if it was all worth it and he said ‘oh, yes.’ I asked if he had any regrets and he emphatically said ‘no.’ What a gift that was and a comfort to have my boy back for a brief time.”
To read that was a gift to me as well.
In death we often have regrets.
I wish that we had that summer swim after training camp that we often talked about but never did. I wish you had the strength to have that lunch to tell me all about your Day of Greatness sponsored by the Nathan Chris Baker Foundation. I wish that I could see another of your Facebook posts.
I wish I could answer another of your questions in Letters 2 TL.
And most of all I wish I had said, “Harry, I love you!”
I will miss you my friend and I will always be grateful that you reached out to say hello in Letters and begin a friendship that changed me forever.
You were one of a kind and I will never forget you.
Instead of saying goodbye I’ll say; “I’ll see you later.”
And you know I will!