I have never been so worried about a person I’ve never met.
A few months ago I commented on Elan Gale’s IG post “you are my favorite person I have never met.” I don’t know Elan personally, but I have always found him to be funny and wise and kind of wonderful.
I waved at Selma Blair walking her dog and then realized she had no idea who I was.
After noticing I was standing right next to Chris Pratt, I ducked my head and walked briskly away as if he would even notice.
The idea that we feel we know someone famous at any level is strange and a little creepy but quite human I think. We’ve all felt it. We grow up and learn from shows on television and as adults we go to the movies and share in experiences of life and joy through an enormous screen. We love these people, we hate these people. We know them. We’ve all felt it. The residents in and around Hollywood just so happen to be faced with it quite a bit more than the rest of the world.
Now – right now, as I sit here and write and as I run in the morning and I work all day and as I cook dinner and pour a glass of wine and check emails and get ready to sleep – right now, all the time I think about a man I’ve never met. My Instagram feed told me many weeks ago that Tommy Rivers Puzey is in the hospital, fighting for his life. After days on a ventilator and being unable to breathe with no diagnosis and a negative Covid test, they finally concluded Tommy “Rivs” has a rare form of lung cancer. My heart breaks and I cannot stop thinking of him since.
I cannot stop checking in to his wife’s IG feed, who is graciously giving the community updates whenever she can. I cannot stop Googling this disease and searching for any sign that he is going to be okay.
Rivs is an iFit coach, an endurance athlete who has guided me through my treadmill screen across miles and miles, through Spain and Easter Island and Portugal and the Swiss Alps. As a woman living with Multiple Sclerosis, daily exercise is a necessity for slowing my disease progression. Rivs has been a motivator and mentor and taught me to love to run. I start my day watching and listening and running with this man, this athlete, this husband and father of three. And now I, and so many thousands like me, feel the pain of the possibility that we might lose him.
Rivs leads and educates and changes people. He advocates and supports and cares about the world and about us. We cannot lose him. We know him.
So I think and I pray and I worry about a person I’ve never met.