RIP Bobby Bebber
I feel embarrassed over how long this has taken me to write this. This post is going to be quite sad but I feel like I have to share it. Back on April 21, my dear friend from high school, Bobby Bebber, passed away after a life-long battle with Cystic Fibrosis. I first met Bobby days before my first official day of high school.
The parking lot of Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, Florida was already at full capacity of incoming Freshman with their parents and upperclassmen hustling those incoming Freshman by selling their old textbooks for whatever profit they can get.
I remember Bobby being there with his mom and from the moment I saw him, I knew he was unlike any other incoming Freshman. At first I thought he was a child prodigy because he looked so young. He stood well under five feet and probably weighed about 85 pounds soaking wet. Already murmurs were traveling the distance of the parking lot and beyond over this little guy and no one had even asked his name yet.
Over the next four years of High School, Bobby Bebber became a beacon of hope for all of us (student body and faculty alike) even though most of us probably never really fully understood what he was going through or the extent of his disease. But looking back, I can say with certainty that Bobby knew. But he never complained. He never used it as an excuse. He always had a smile on his face and a can-do attitude that would put most motivational speakers to shame. He was the first school mascot before I took over my Sophomore year and he represented the embodiment of our class of 2002.
Columbus is a very large school so it’s not surprising for me to say that I never had Bobby in any of my classes. I got to know him primarily through the school news program (CCNN) where we were both anchors and from SAC (Student Activities Committee) which was where Bobby passed the torch to me (literally) as the new full-time mascot.
Bobby always had this insight that made you think. He made you want to help others even though he never asked for any kind of help himself. After we graduated high school in 2002, I would run into him from time to time in the GC building of FIU but it was always a fading moment. Either he would be on his way to a doctor’s appointment or I would be rushing off to class, I never got to really talk to him much for some time.
A few years passed and I had lost touch with Bobby. I thought of him often. I wondered how he was doing and hoped he was doing better even though I didn’t want to admit to myself that he was probably doing worse. Even before Bobby got to high school he had had more surgeries and procedures than you and I have spices in our kitchen. I finally got back in touch with Bobby and from 2009-2011 while I was living in San Francisco and he was living in Durham, North Carolina, we Skyped almost weekly.
He had moved to North Carolina with his dad so that he could be close to Duke University Hospital where he would frequent almost on a weekly basis as his condition see-sawed more than ever. He was trying to get on a list for a double lung transplant. Whenever we would Skype, he always tiptoed about how he was feeling and never went into great detail. He always wanted to know what I was up to. What San Francisco was like and what kind of movies I was going to be making when I made it big. He would read all the movie reviews I posted and would talk to me about whatever movies he saw.
It should be also mentioned that when he wasn’t in the hospital, he was at the nearby Cheesecake Factory and made friends with every host, server, and manager there. I can almost bet that some employees would even show up on their day off just to see if Bobby would be there. You just always wanted to be around him.
Then in the Summer of 2012, our alma-mater threw a fundraiser for him and his family. 100% of the donations went towards his treatment and research for CF. I was home for the Summer from Grad School and saw him in person for the first time in almost a decade. Tears streamed down my face that I tried to fight and failed. He looked thinner than ever. He was frail and most of his hair was already gone. His hands would shake uncontrollably as if he had Parkinson’s. But it was still the same Bobby Bebber from our days in Columbus.
Then one night in April, while living in Los Angeles and having just returned from Miami for the funeral of my girlfriend’s mother, I read what would be Bobby Bebber’s last Facebook post. I don’t remember exactly how it was worded but it was actually quite unremarkable by Bobby’s standards. I just remember it saying he was tired. I was feeling so much sadness, hopelessness, and pain.
Bobby Bebber was one of the most remarkable people I have ever known in my life. Even though he didn’t even live to see 30, he possessed more wisdom and experience that most of us would ever have if we lived to be 100. I truly believe that he is looking down on all who knew him from heaven and wish the best for all of us.
I’m not quite sure how to end this post so I’ll just say thank you for taking the time to read my tribute.