When you stop to think about who some of the most famous alumni from the University of Illinois might be, Roger Ebert always came up on the list. Urbana's native son wrote for the Daily Illini, the Champaign News-Gazette, and annually hosted Ebertfest when cancer wasn't being an asshole and keeping him from doing what he loved.
But cancer is ultimately one of the greater assholes most of us will ever have to encounter. Ebert fought it on and off for eleven years, but sometimes you don't get to win that fight. He knew eventually he would lose.
I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. What I am grateful for is the gift of intelligence, and for life, love, wonder, and laughter. You can't say it wasn't interesting. My lifetime's memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.
This was a man who legitimately cared about others and used his free time to help others along. Without Roger Ebert, we don't have Will Leitch, and that's not a world I want to live in. I never met or talked to the man, as I didn't get into writing until considerably late in the game but I wish I would have taken the time or chance to.
Just write, get better, keep writing, keep getting better. It's the only thing you can control.
I mean, if you can't apply that to your own life then no one can help you.
Cancer didn't win today, but it did steal a great man and Illini from us. Rest in peace Roger Ebert.