Music has always been an integral part of my life. My brother, father and I all sing. Growing up, my parents had me listening to everyone from Queen to Frank Sinatra. I have been lucky to have so much laughter, joy and music in my life. When the television show Glee premiered in 2009, I was intrigued by the characters, the comedy and, of course, the music. Cory Monteith played Finn Hudson on the show, a football player who was goofy and gullible. He was so genuine and sang with such power, that you often forgot his many shortcomings. His love interest on the show, Rachel Berry, played by Lea Michelle, was Cory’s real life girlfriend.
In the tribute episode to Cory, it is not Rachel you see but Lea, distraught over the loss of the man many said would be her husband. In fact, sources say the two had discussed marriage and that an engagement was imminent. Her tribute song to Finn, Adele’s “Make You Feel My Love,” brought the entire cast to tears. There is no greater testament to the deep love and respect his fellow cast held for Cory. And there was nothing more heartbreaking than seeing real pain on Lea Michelle’s face as she said goodbye to not only a beloved character but the man she loved.
There are many lessons to be learned from Cory’s death. He died of an overdose of heroin and alcohol after struggling for years with addiction. But that isn’t why he should be remembered.
“Everyone wants to talk about how he died, too, but who cares? One moment in his whole life; I care more about how he lived,” says Kurt, who played Finn’s stepbrother on Glee, in the tribute episode entitled “The Quarterback.”
Cory’s mistakes cost him his life but they shouldn’t cost us our good memories of him. He was a phenomenal actor who was much loved by the people he worked with and by anyone who knew him. He was an avid supporter of several charities including “Project Limelight,” a free performing arts program for inner-city kids in Vancouver, Canada, and “Virgin Unite,” which is dedicated to uniting people and ideas to improve lives. Saying goodbye to a 31-year-old is a tragedy.
Cory Monteith sang and danced his way into our hearts. In one of my favorite Glee scenes, way back in season one, Finn sings “I’ll Stand By You” to what he believes is the sonogram of his child. Although the baby turns out not to be his, you feel the love that Finn has for the child and, when he eventually learns the truth, you feel his pain and loss. I cried throughout the entire performance, not because I was sad or upset, but because Cory sang with every part of himself, with both the good and bad. I miss both the character and the actor because both so greatly influenced the way I look at and enjoy music, just as they were important to Lea Michelle and anyone else who had the opportunity to watch Cory perform. In an interview with People Magazine, Lea said, “I’ve lost two people, Cory and Finn.” But Cory’s memory will live on in his music and in the life he led. Rest in peace, Cory.