Seeing someone fight cancer is one of the hardest things I ever had to endure. They change, they become weak, it takes over their body. As it advances, between the pain and the drugs, they are often barley coherent. Death, in some ways is not the most horrible part of Cancer, the struggle is.
I was in eighth Grade. That year I lost a close friend. His name was Bill Hart.
I had known Bill since I was a baby as he was a close family friend. I got really close to him when he helped me on an audition which eventually I got the role for. When on set, I lived with him, worked with him everyday, had fun with him. He was the one person that I could be honest with.
I came to live with my brother in Los Angeles in 2005 from Argentina. Bill came out to Los Angeles to live with me part time where we lived in my brother’s loft for two years until he got sick. We would watch movies while eating dinner, which was inevitably followed by ice cream, and then the next day we would discuss the movies we’d seen. I would read him my poetry and he would offer his feedback on scripts I had been writing. He was already in his late 60’s at that time but I considered him my best friend. I was proud of being his student, and his friend. Bill was the one person who really influenced me. For most people, that role is filled by parents, but for me, it was my acting coach, Bill.
Bill was in NY when I found out he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I didn’t know exactly how to feel, I was scared, because I knew he might die. Everyone was trying to be calm and saying that it would be ok but I knew better. Knowing that I might lose him, I started calling him every day to tell him about school, auditions and even to fantasize about making another movie together. I would never hang up the phone without telling him how much he mattered to me. Every time he was in and out of the hospital, he sounded weaker and I would pray that this wasn’t the end.
In the beginning, on the phone, he was himself, sounding good, funny, optimistic. But there was a change after a month. He sometimes didn’t have energy to talk, or was in pain. Other times, the drugs made him slur and even be completely incoherent. He was in and out of the hospital. His Cancer moved quickly, it took three months . I saw him once before he died. I think my family was trying to protect me from seeing how much he was changing, how much weight he was loosing, how frail he was.
The last time I saw Bill before he passed away, I was on my way to go to Argentina to visit my father. I made sure to arrange a layover in New York. He had gotten so skinny, his skin drooped on his body like cloths on a hanger. His head seemed bigger because his shoulders and chest had shrunk, but his eyes were still the same, kind, crystal blue. I loved looking at his eyes. I remember sitting on the couch with him, petting me, like I was a little cat, not wanting to leave because I didn’t know if I was going to see him again. I remember him telling me that he loved me and was proud of me. I started crying, sitting there. He told me everything was going to be okay, but it wasn’t. Before I left he gave me a Christmas gift. Paper flowers in a little glass vase, to protect them. “They never die” he said. That day was the last time I saw him. I was back in Los Angeles when I got the call. My heart stopped; and the tears poured down my cheeks. I ran to my room sobbing like never before. A few months later I went to the memorial held in New York. It was one of the hardest days of my life as I had to speak. Bill Heart was one of the kindest, smartest, craziest most generous people I have ever met and was undoubtedly the person who has had the greatest influence on how I became the who I am today. I love and miss him.