When Michael Young talked to Carson Leslie for the last time, the conversation was typical.
They talked about the cancer that was killing Carson at 17. There was no sense in avoiding it. Carson’s three-year struggle had in some ways defined him. Ignoring the subject would have only diminished the triumphs – and there were many – in his long, hard fight.
But the topic didn’t consume the conversation between the two friends, either.
Over the years, as the Rangers star came to know Carson and his family – Craig and Annette and older brother Craig, who met through the work Young and his wife Cristina do with Wipe Out Kids’ Cancer – it was clear that, of all the kids the Youngs had helped, Carson was his favorite.
Maybe it’s because Carson had been an athlete at Covenant. Or it could have been his sudden, disarming smile.
Maybe it was how he made his difficult lot in life so much easier on the people around him.
He always knew what to say. One minute, it’d be pain or his latest treatment. Next thing Young knew, it would be baseball or girls, the kind of stuff you’d expect from a typical 17-year-old.
Carson tried hard to live a normal life. When it was no longer possible, he lived an exceptional one.
He decided in June to write a book about his experiences. He wanted to give a voice for kids like him who didn’t have his resources or gifts. He wanted people to better understand loved ones with the same life-threatening prospects.
“Even though every day of my life is a battle, I have learned that God is always there to lift me up, and I live each day as if it were the Day of Judgment,” he wrote. “I believe my story will give readers a new perspective on the importance of how words and/or actions affect those around them.
“I wish to make a difference, and I know others my age want to do the same. Maybe after they read my book, they will discover how to live the struggle.”
He called the book, Carry Me. A party celebrating its finish was scheduled today. The book’s release was set for Monday.
They’ll hold Carson’s memorial service Monday instead.
“He was an incredible young man,” Young said. “He fought a good fight. He did it with courage and grace and dignity, and he was just 17 years old.”
He leaves a loving family, legions of friends and a story of how to live. The ending came too soon. Michael Young is glad he got to know the rest of it.
“I got a chance to be friends with Carson Leslie for three years,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.” Services set for Monday.