Today I learned a friend passed away. We lost him too early in life, he was only in his later 30's. He was known as DC Derek Corner. I met him two years ago when I started Muay Thai. He had just come back to training after a 4 year hiatus due to recovering from cancer. He had a scar that ran from the nearly the top of his chest down to just past his belly-button where they opened him up and took out all the cancer. It was a massive surgery and took him 4 years to recovery and get healthy enough to start training again. He had to undergo another surgery, more cosmetic, that repaired the damage done to his sudden loss of weight which left folds of skin around his mid section. The litany of medical procedures he endured was longer than a mobsters rap sheet.
I would label him as a "liberal redneck." Heavily tatooed, bearded, the physical demeanor of someone you'd think you'd find hiding in the woods attached to a militia chanting anti-government slogans. In reality, he was a Roadie and had worked with some very well-known bands and acts. He was also extremely kind-hearted, very liberal, loved music of all kinds, full of energy, and always made people smile.
When training, he always went 150%. Never made an excuse, just went at it with gusto. Given the battles he fought against his cancer and the surgeries he'd endured, he was no stranger to pain and the perseverance needed to get through it and recover. He wanted to fight in the ring. Sadly, his cancer came back for a rematch and this time, won.
Today is a bit dreary. It's still cool, cloudy, drizzling. My heart feels heavy learning about Derek's passing. It's a reminder, again, about how delicate and short life is. It's a reminder to make the most out of our time. To pick ourselves up when we're down. To do everything we can to live a fulfilling life for ourselves and for others.
I did not know Derek as well as many and wish I could have gotten to know him better. That was part of his charm and magic. Once you met him, you just knew you met someone special. Derek's smile was always big. His heart bigger, and the flame that was his life a bonfire that spread a comforting warmth to all that came in range.
My thoughts go out to his family and friends. He will be missed.