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Leaving a Legacy

Cory was my first crush. Given the circumstances under which we were introduced, it was somewhat inevitable. I was nine years old and just discovering that boys existed. My oldest cousin was marrying the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen and they had asked me to be a junior bridesmaid in their wedding. It was the first wedding I had ever been asked to be part of, and I met Cory, who was just months older than me, the weekend of the wedding. We were being paired to walk down the aisle together.

The women gathered in the fellowship hall to make final preparations for the wedding. Careful not to catch my curls, Mom zipped up my teal green satin bridesmaid’s dress. It had puffy sleeves, a full skirt, a heart-shaped neckline and matching satin roses on the sides of the neckline that were still being sewed on just minutes before the wedding began. At the time, it was the single most glamorous stitch of fabric ever to grace my chunky, underdeveloped adolescent body.

That wedding was my first exposure to the fantastical world of weddings and all of their tulle bows, romantic couples and towering white cakes. And Cory was my groom, although I would have never admitted it. I had yet to make a public proclamation that I thought boys were anything but parasite-ridden cootie-mongers. I remember how awkward it felt to have the adults intermingle our arms just before we were to walk down the aisle.

I actually don’t remember much after that, except for being horrified when I saw the wedding photos because the hosiery I wore was opaque, causing me to stick out like a sore thumb next to all the real women who wore sheer hosiery that accentuated their shapely tanned legs.

But my childhood crush on Cory remained, and as our families were now joined, I’d see him regularly, when I visited or went to church camps and conferences.

I think I was 14 when we kissed. It was morbidly innocent, and I’m sure it was painfully awkward although I didn’t have much to compare it to at the time. Our romance lasted one weekend, at the end of which he muttered something like, “I just don’t know what I want,” which was code for “This is weird and I think we should just be friends.”

In time I got over it. His older brother married another one of my cousins and at that point, he was very nearly legally my cousin. Since I spent quite a bit of time with my cousin, I saw Cory and his brother a lot over the years. We had some good memories. There were times when I had never laughed harder. It was the type of friendship that sticks with you even when adulthood tears you apart.

I always knew no matter how long it had been since I had seen Cory that he’d always have a big smile and hug for me. He was that way with everyone. I’d never seen Cory treat someone differently than another. And Cory was a popular guy. Being in a ministerial family, he traveled a lot. I have no doubt girls swooned for him in every port. After all, he looked like a teenage Pierce Brosnan.

I visited Cory in the hospital when I was in town earlier this month. I knew that he wasn’t well, but I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. Cory had been given nine months to live following a diagnosis of colon cancer and resulting surgery earlier this year. When I entered the room, Cory was sleeping from the morphine he'd been given. The scene was eerily familiar. He had the same emaciated look my dad had just a year and a month before, as he lay dying of cancer.

I remember looking at his mother who sat in the darkened room reading a book. She must have spent hours in that room, looking at and praying for her baby boy. No parent should ever have to endure that pain, and yet I know they do.

My heart goes out to those who were closest to Cory as he passed away last week including his beautiful wife and their adorable children. His family and friends celebrated Cory's life in two incredible services this weekend where they accentuated how purpose-filled his life was, and the lasting legacy he leaves behind.

“For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face.”

See you on the other side, friend.


Dear Cara
I don't know you, but I was reading various writings about Cory and I ran across yours. Perhaps in your mind your memories of Cory are innocent: the fact that Cory was your first crush is one thing, but to say you kissed is another. I also feel that it is disrespectful to his wife and it is not fair to Cory because he can't defend himself. I just think your timing is wrong and some things are left better unsaid.

Peace to you

dear cara,
Having had a friend like Cory, and having had that type of kiss, Do NOT pay Andi any attention. for A teen kiss is just that, and is no threat to anyone except for those who are insecure in themselves. I honor ALL your memory of your friend
and his family. And I know your heartache along with theirs. You know your intent was pure in what you wrote, do not let it offend you that someone that does not know you has taken it reflects what is going on with them..or has happened to them, and really nothing to do with you. In fact, I bet Cory is laughing
as he reads how perfect strangers are debating that awkward kiss.

Psalm 34:18 states this
The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those crushed in spirit.
Be blessed in knowing that God is near.


Hi Sherrie and Andi ... appreciate your comments. Cory's cousin actually read this post at his memorial service. I was friends with Cory's wife before they even dated. I wouldn't have intentionally posted something that I felt was disrespectful to her or the family. Thanks for your concern. Sherrie, thanks for that beautiful verse.

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Cara Davis is a writer, editor and the former editorial director for Relevant Media Group. During the past year she has been on a journey of finding a renewed focus for her faith and her life.