Join the Relay for Life and help kill Cancer! – Sponsored Video

I am not typically a violent person. But, I wish I could get cancer in a room for ten minutes with my combat boots – I wouldn’t need any other weapons.  Cancer took my best friend in Norway, Svein Erik Hoffgaard, a guy who was so clever that the King of Norway’s attache sent a letter to his civilian employer after he got out of the service that “should the King need his services, the King will get him.”

Hoffa, as we all called him, died at 27 of the most vicious of killers, pancreatic cancer.  He was a dear friend, a trusted comrade, and one of the most loyal subjects to the Norwegian crown.  To say he is simply “missed” dilutes the word.  He wasn’t a special forces soldier, he didn’t live a life of fame, and he didn’t make millions of dollars . . . but he would have done all three!  He just would have.  You tell yourself that some people are so good, too good, to be mired in this hellish world when their souls can be more free.  Or maybe you don’t tell yourself anything, death and religion are personal matters, but I had to convince myself of something to justify losing my incredibly wonderful friend so early.

I can remember how it all started for him, one night he called me up and said his stomach hurt and that he couldn’t really sleep.  I will do my best to avoid attacking the health system of Norway, but I am not going to sugar-coat anything and risk violating the integrity of this story.  I told him what we all say, “Drink some water, take a cold shower, see if it hurts in the morning.”  “Sure, I am sure it is just something I ate, but it only seems to hurt whenever I exhale,” he said.  God, how I wish it was just something he ate.  I had just recovered from food poisoning the year before, and that was no picnic, but I lived.  Hoffa didn’t.

The next day came, and Hoffa went to a free clinic, provided by his socialized health-care.  They told him he had a stomach-ache and that he needed to take some Valium . . . which, incidentally, is the same thing they told me when I had my food poisoning.  He tried to tough-it-out; he wasn’t a macho sort, but he was tough all the same.  No dice.  He went back to the free clinic, they ran tests and said he was fine.  That night was incredibly painful for Hoffa; he just never got any sleep.  He decided to fore-go the free clinic and shell out 280 Kroner, at the time it was about 40 bucks US, and the first moment they saw him . . . they knew what it was, pancreatic cancer.  He didn’t tell me at first, but I persisted on knowing how he was doing.  He reluctantly confided in me, and on the phone, he spoke the dreaded words, “It’s kreft . . . it’s cancer.”

I knew some people that had survived cancer, and so I was optimistic, and I told him that I was there for him.  But for the first time in my life, (somewhere deep inside) I knew when I  said those words, I meant them, and I was there for my friend and he would be gone soon.  I tried to cheer him up with levity, and I brought my Star Wars Trivial Pursuit with me to visit him in the hospital.  Hoffa was a big guy; his dad owned a candy retailer in Rogaland, and when I saw him in the hospital that first time . . . he was skinnier than me already.  I was brave; I didn’t let him see how it hurt me to see him like that.  We played a full game of Trivial Pursuit, and I walked back to my car.  I made it all the way back to the car, and then I just . . . well, to keep integrity, I lost it.  I pounded the steering wheel, I cussed, I spit, I screamed, I cried, but worst of all . . . I knew.  See, I had orders to ship out and head home, back to Florida and out of the Marines, and I couldn’t be there for my friend.  I had to leave him behind, and if you know anything about Marines, we don’t do that!

I ended up a few months later living with a friend in Gainesville until my semester started in Saint Augustine.  One day while I was there I got a call from Hoffa, now by this time a few months had passed and he was telling everyone he was getting better.  So, he calls me up and says, “How do I get to where you are from I-95?”  “Why?”  “Because I am in Gainesville.”  “Very funny, Hoffa,” I laughed.  Then, and I crap you not, I was at a gas station when he called on my cell, he pulled up right next to us!  I was flummoxed, because surprised just doesn’t cut how MUCH of a shock it was to see him sitting right next to us at the gas-station in Florida, USA!  I thought the last time I would see my friend had passed, because I left him in Norway, and because he knew how much it killed me to do that, he came to visit me to say goodbye.

A few months later I got an email from a friend of a friend of his letting me know that he was gone.  Only Hoffa’s creator knows why he was taken, and I have lost others to cancer, but this loss was the most devastating, because the potential for amazing things for his country, his family, and his friends is now gone.  He is one with the universe . . . another victim of a merciless villain called cancer.  I miss you, Hoffa.  May the white light of God protect you, always.


3 Responses to “Join the Relay for Life and help kill Cancer! – Sponsored Video”

  1. nitech Says:

    I don't know exactly why, but I came to think of Svein Erik and started googling around for his name, and your post popped up.

    I am the cousin of Hoffa, and worked with him at EDS the last few years he lived. I also visited him a lot at the hospital until he died, and I think maybe I was the one who sent you the mail. I did a deep investigation of his laptop in order to try to find anything of value for hos widowed fiance (he got engaged to a very sweet girl the day before he died).

  2. RickSwift Says:

    Nitech,

    It's funny, when I was in Stavanger, I saw some of the biggest films, and usually with my buddy, Hoffa. We used to discuss films for at least an hour after we saw them. There is no doubt, were he still with us, I would make him a big part of this site as he loved films and especially talking about their message and quality etc. Norway lost a good man.

    Swift

  3. Fanboys | Says:

    […] Fanboys has tons of laughs for, well fanboys, to enjoy.  But, that isn’t what I love about the story.  I love that there is a real sense of mission, because one of the friends may not make it to the 1999 release.  The film transforms almost immediately into something powerful.  If you have ever lost a friend at a young age, and that friend was as much a Star Wars fan as you . . . this film may be difficult to watch.  It was for me. […]

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