Your blank screenmocks you and the tower of unopened mail pulls at your coat, and you wonder whyyou didn't go into the insurance business.
And you check inon your snoring 19-year-old son, home from college, and he's rounding noon andheading toward one and you wonder how you missed the typhoon that came throughhis room.
And so you trudgeback to your desk and open a letter. And when you've finished, you go down,kiss your son on the forehead and wonder how you ever got so lucky.
Dear Mr. Reillyor whomever might take the time to read this:
I am not much ofa writer, but since about 1996 I have wanted to nominate this kid for Faces inthe Crowd
I should havestarted with all the junior golf tournaments he won at ages six to 10. I shouldhave sent in something when he was written up as a golf prodigy in our paper atage 12. I should have sent in something when he got two holes in one in thesummer after eighth grade.
I should havenominated him for being a three-time state qualifier and holding most allindividual scoring records at his high school.
I should havesent in many of his wrestling accomplishments ... but I'm having troubleremembering everything.
This young manwas my very best friend. We were golfing partners for 16 years. You see, thisyoung man was my son.
He was killed ina motorcycle accident.
So what I amdoing to honor him is to nominate Cory Lemke for Faces in the Crowd.
Cory's realaccomplishments were being the best friend a guy could ask for, the most lovingand best son a father could ask for and a truly gentle and loving kid with thegreatest smile in these United States.
I don't know howI will cope without him. I hurt so much, and I miss him so much, just to talkto or watch sports together. God, I loved that boy so much!!
Please acceptthis nomination!!
You call him.He's a 51-year-old truck driver in Sheldon, Iowa. He's on the road four or fivedays a week, just him and his rig and his sorrow.
Even on thephone, you can tell he's one of those tough guys who's not used to fighting offtears. And you can hear that he's losing.
He tells you howhe and Cory played golf together every day they could--"thousands ofrounds," he says--kidded each other endlessly and then, when it got dark orcold, played video golf together or watched the Vikings or just shot the bull.How his son gave him 16 shots the last time they played and still took $20 offthe old man.
He rememberstelling the kid that night, July 7, as Cory left to go to a car show in Hull,"Get some sleep, buddy. You gotta play tomorrow." And later: the phoneringing and the sickening cry in his wife Maud's voice from the kitchen,moaning, "Is he dead?"
He didn't evenwait to see what it was, he just sprinted to his car and floored it to Hull.But he couldn't get there fast enough because Cory was as good as dead thesecond he hit that van. "No brain activity at all," the doctor said.Great idea. Let me test-drive your motorcycle. No helmet. Kids.
The next morningthey unplugged the respirator. On the way home he picked up his cell and playedCory's last message--"Got us a tee time Sunday over at Spencer," Corysays. "Let's leave at 7:30. Gonna kick your butt."
God, that Sundaymorning came down hard on the big truck driver. He just sat in his chair, numb,like somebody'd cut off his arms. And Maud walked in, tears pooling in hereyes, holding out the car keys. "You better go," she whispered."He'd want you to."
And he did. Hepulled his two-ton heart out of that chair and mummy-walked through 18 holes,because buddies don't let each other down. And all the way he ached about allthe things he never said or did for his son.
And later on hetook out his pen and paper and fixed one of them.
• If you have acomment for Rick Reilly, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Since 1996 I have wanted to nominate this kid forFaces in the Crowd. I should have done it when he got two holes in one in thesummer after eighth grade."
SHELDON, IOWA > Golf
Lemke, 19, was named Newcomer of the Year at SimpsonCollege in Indianola, Iowa. At 14 he won his flight at the World Amateur inMyrtle Beach, S.C., beating 75 others from ages 25 to 49. On July 2 he had a65, playing with his father.
RIFFS of REILLY
Exclusively on Verizon Wireless V CAST and SI.com.
PETER READ MILLER
COURTESY OF LEMKE FAMILY