I am a Gleek. In 2009, I tuned in to the first episode of Glee, and it has stayed among my top five shows ever since. Sometimes I think about not watching anymore (I follow an obscene amount of television shows), but the characters always draw me back in. They have become friends of mine. I laugh with them, cry with them, cheer for them. My heart breaks with theirs.
This is just one reason I was excited when, in June of this year, TWLOHA was contacted by Montourage Unite, a “fan-based community that works to create an impact in honor of Cory Monteith.” Shortly before they got in touch with us, Cory had completed a second visit to rehab for alcohol addiction. Montourage Unite seeks to raise funds for organizations that address the struggles Cory faced, knowing other members of their community have personally dealt with them as well. As TWLOHA’s Benefit Coordinator and a fan of Glee, I was thrilled to work with them, and together we settled on a fundraiser that would run from June to November 2013.
Cory died just a few weeks after my first correspondence with Montourage Unite. The news hit me the same way it did other fans of the show. While my desire as Coordinator is to see every benefit be the best it can be, the idea of this one now being in Cory’s memory made it even more meaningful.
You see, I remember the first time we met “Finn Hudson” (as he held Kurt’s Marc Jacobs jacket while Puck threw him in the dumpster). The first song he sang was REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling,” and I remember knowing even then that Finn was my favorite character. That was over four years ago, and since then, my adoration for Finn only grew. Some of my favorite moments include him telling Rachel he loves her for the first time just before singing Journey’s “Faithfully” at Regionals, the entire episode of “Furt,” and the way he apologized to Santana in “I Kissed A Girl.” But the thing that stood out the most about Finn was his heart. He genuinely cared for those around him. He was kind. He was humble. He was imperfect, but learning. He was, as Ryan Murphy aptly named last week’s episode, “The Quarterback,” in more ways than one.
In the months since Cory’s death, we’ve learned from those who loved him that Finn was very much a reflection of the real Cory. Tales of his kindness, generosity, and humor endure. They are the legacy he leaves behind in the hearts of those who knew him best. I’m glad for that. In the media, of course, he is sometimes painted simply as an “addict.” Some of the less scrupulous outlets have even published, in great detail, the events surrounding his death. But I can’t help but hope people remember that Cory Monteith was a person (just as any celebrity is, for that matter). A person with a story and other people who loved him.
At TWLOHA, we hear from supporters on a regular basis. Sometimes these messages are accounts of healing and recovery, or maybe even a sweet thank you. Other times, they are from someone bravely admitting to relapse, and we tell them something our team firmly believes: that relapse does not steal a single day from the time they spent clean.
Fellow Gleeks, when we remember Cory, I would ask that we remember this was true for him, too. Cory had a history of addiction, and he was honest about his struggles. But that was merely one part of his story.
I don’t know about you, but I thought Glee’s farewell to Finn last week was the perfect way to say goodbye. The emotions were so raw and honest. It validated the many levels and expressions of grief: Carole, Burt, and Kurt comforting one another with memories and honesty; Santana letting her mask slip just a bit; the original cast being so deeply affected by Rachel’s tribute of “Make You Feel My Love;” Mr. Schue finally allowing himself to feel the loss. I felt it honored Finn, and Cory, very well. And while the show never addressed the way he died, I’m really OK with that. As Kurt said, “One moment in his whole life … I care more about how he lived.”
As far as I can tell, it was a life worth remembering, and a story that will endure through those he loved.
Cory’s friends and costars filmed a few PSAs, which we’re including below. If you or someone you know is struggling, please find help or contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Find the hope and help you deserve.