Forever is a long time
By Zeke Berkley 09/12/2013
The day I met Hunter Cook, he handed me the most peculiar business card I had ever seen. Upon inspection, it didn’t appear to be for any sort of business at all, and featured a “stars and stripes” American flag motif. Emblazoned in particularly bold letters was the following:
“Hunter Cool: American, Awesome Guy, Drummer.” Despite its oddly patriotic theme, I found it incredibly amusing. Needless to say, I instantly decided that this person needed to be a part of my life. Forever.
In addition to his love for the United States of America (which, honestly, only seemed to intensify in the following years) it was also quite apparent to me, initially, that Hunter was in a wheelchair. While it was obvious that he was the personification of the first two self proclamations on his “business” card, the third I had serious doubts about. He was interested in playing drums in my band and I was interested in regard to whether or not he could play drums at all. I soon learned that not only could he play drums, he happened to be the best drummer I had ever seen in my entire life, and to this day, still is. I immediately asked him to join my band. Forever. I also asked him to be my best friend. Forever. Which seems weird in retrospect because we weren’t 9 years old.
Through years and years of standing directly in front of him and making noise for people with our band End Transmission, too many Dodger games to count, and heavy discussions about the universe and whether or not the Star Wars prequels were really necessary, I learned a lot about the man Hunter really was.
I learned that he was intelligent. His brain was one of the greatest I’ve had the honor of picking. I could, and did, ask him anything, and he knew exactly how to answer, whether or not it was the answer I wanted to hear.
I saw his love for and his loyalty to his friends and his craft. He constantly showed intense dedication and drive in regard to so many aspects of his life, particularly our band. Working with him onstage and off was endlessly inspiring.
I witnessed his courage, his control and his ability to overcome adversity with incredible resilience and resolve. I knew he was so often in pain, yet he smiled every day, despite his condition. In fact, with the exception of that first time we met, I don’t think it ever occurred to me that Hunter was in a wheelchair. He shattered any preconceived notions anyone had about him, and he loved doing it. We are talking about a guy who would literally roll up to one of our shows, sit behind a kit and blow away everyone in the room. I’d watch the drummers or members of other bands expect him to be horrible, and see them end up shaking Hunter’s hand and talking with him for hours after a show, even asking for advice. He impressed anyone he came into contact with, just as he impressed me that first day we met. Hunter made so many friends that way. Being himself.
Even though Hunter has passed away, I still have trouble believing it. As dumb as it may sound, I still feel as though I can call him at any time and ask how to do an inverted paradiddle or request Yasiel Puig’s batting average. Hunter was my best friend and one of the greatest people in the history of this planet. He impacted so many lives positively and will be greatly missed. Forever.
Zeke Berkley is a singer-songwriter who regularly screams at the top of his lungs for audiences. He enjoys pizza parties and climbing tall things.
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