Connor was 13-years-old when he passed away from cancer. He was a lively young boy who knew what he liked in life. He had a lot to live for, but he knew that his time was short. He had asked the Make-A-Wish foundation to meet Ryan Reynolds, the guy who made the movie Deadpool possible. Deadpool was his favorite anti-hero, and he wanted to see the movie before his time came. But an unlikely friendship blossomed between the two, and when Connor finally lost his battle with cancer, the star dedicated a Facebook post to the little warrior that he had come to know and love.
For three straight years, my friend, Connor McGrath drop-kicked cancer… Not sure how… Maybe the cancer cheated… But the fight came to an end two nights ago.
In my wildest dreams, I can’t imagine how hard this is for his parents Kim and Gerald – along with his extended family in Newfoundland.
Connor was 13. But this kid… He was smart. He was funny. And not just funny ‘for a kid’ – or funny ‘for a person battling something awful’. He was unqualified funny. He had that… thing.
It was the Make-A-Wish Foundation that brought us together. I can’t thank them enough. Seriously. Thank you. Because of his wish, Connor was the first person to see Deadpool.
I traveled up to Edmonton, Alberta to surprise him with a rough cut of the film. There were still huge sections with wires we hadn’t yet painted out, jokes which weren’t working (and still aren’t) and green screens. Connor didn’t seem to mind. And I’d never felt luckier to get to be Wade Wilson.
***Before you jump down my throat for showing a 13 year old an R-Rated film, please know this kid knew more swear words than a British chef.
I went back to Edmonton 6 weeks later and I wish I could say things were looking up. After my visit, I didn’t know if I was saying goodbye or see ya later. Sitting here now, I realize it was both.
I’m grateful I got to orbit Connor’s world for a brief time. Grateful for the pages and pages of hilarious texts between us. Grateful to his parents for allowing Connor to spend time with a foul-mouthed child in the body of a 39 year old.
I called Connor, “Bubba”. And he called me “Bubba2”. We met because he loved Deadpool. In a certain sense he WAS Deadpool. Or, at least everything Deadpool aspires to be; balancing pain, fearlessness, love and a filthy (filthy!) sense of humor in one body. I wish he could’ve stuck around a lot longer.
He wants us to celebrate life instead of focusing on death. It is always devastating to watch children battle illnesses, and it is even harder when they somehow seem to have a wisdom beyond their years. This is a beautiful tribute to a strong and courageous boy, and it has been shared over 125,000 times for a reason. I hope they find a cure very, very soon.