This is a personal letter to the Glee fandom, from one heartbroken fan to another.
My Dearest Glee-bees,
I’m not really sure how to begin so I'm just going to start typing. Remember last fall when we all hysterically cried together while watching "The Break Up"? How many tissues we used up, how puffy and red our eyes were, and how we felt like our hearts were shattered and could never be mended? I would take a year's worth of that kind of pain over what we're forced to face now.
It's been about 36 hours since I heard the news, but I’m still in shock. I'm numb, sick to my stomach, and feel as if I'm on the verge of tears at any moment. It still hasn't fully hit me yet, and I wonder if it ever will. I take comfort in the fact that I am not alone. There is an entire fandom — millions of kind, empathetic Glee fans — who are just as devastated as I am upon learning that our shining star, Cory Monteith has passed.
When the news of Cory's untimely death clouded my thoughts and smashed my heart, I was watching a movie under the L.A. night sky with a group of my closest friends — who also happen to be journalists. Reporters from E! Online, TV Guide, The Hollywood Reporter, and TV Line, each began sneaking glances at their buzzing phones just as the movie was beginning. Their eyes darted around and their whispers were laced with panic and doubt. Something was not right.
Everyone in our industry knows that Glee is my baby, my passion, and my obsession. I've never been ashamed of being a Gleek — in fact, quite the opposite is true: l proudly represent my fandom's voice in each and every Glee article I write. I've supported the show through its ups and downs, danced along to the songs, and fell in love with its quirky characters. I'm also a shipper. I've crushed on Glee's couples, wished for their happiness, and verbally assaulted my TV screen when the show's creators threaten to break them up. I'm a protective fan who just so happens to write about TV for a living.
On Saturday night, the group was flustered upon hearing the news that a Hollywood actor had been found dead in a hotel room in Vancouver. We didn't know who it was yet. I was concerned, but tried to brush off my worries and focus on the nice night and the good company. A date had joined me on my group outing and didn't want this great guy to think that I can't separate my work life from my personal life. (I can't, but he doesn't need to know that just yet.) While I struggled to keep it together, one of my best friends turned around and whispered to me, "Leanne… I think it's Cory Monteith."
My stomach twisted and my cheeks felt prickly and hot. I quickly shook my head, closed my eyes, and simply told her no, she was wrong. The news was wrong. Of course it's not Cory. This is just a sick joke. It's not him. Not my Finn…
The first time I met Cory I almost threw up from nervousness and excitement. It was May 1, 2012. I was just an intern at the time and I was beyond thrilled that my boss trusted me enough to cover this red carpet — she knew what I huge fangirl I was/am. I introduced myself to the cast of Glee as they came down the carpet one by one, asked them the questions fans had sent me on Twitter, and tried not to act like a gigantic dork. Cory towered over me (I'm only 5'3"), realized that we had never met, and then swiftly introduced himself with a huge smile. I blurted out, "Of course I know who you are! I'm such a huge fan of the show!"
The next four minutes were a blur of laughter, Finchel references, and teases about what was coming up next. I was in heaven and Cory was patient with me as I fumbled over my words and tried not to pee my pants. I was talking to Finn Hudson! When the interview was over, Cory gave me a quick hug, thanked me for coming out, and said, "It was so great meeting you, Leanne!" It was such a simple thing to say, but coming from Cory's mouth it felt genuine and sincere. Every additional encounter with Cory has been just as wonderful as the first. To say that he was nice would be the world's largest understatement. Cory Monteith was effortlessly amazing.
After what felt like hours (but was in reality just a few minutes), the news was confirmed: Cory Monteith had passed away. Even typing those five words now feels surreal. I tried to hide the tears in my eyes by fumbling around in my purse, pouring another glass of wine, and keeping my vision locked on the screen ahead of me. My date did not fully understand the severity of what just happened (he's not a big TV watcher) and I tried my best to explain the situation with even breaths. "The most popular actor from one of, if not the most, popular show on television just died. It's my favorite show."
I'm not sure what the producers and writers intend to do with Glee now, but I'm not worried about that just yet. I'm more concerned with the millions of fans who, like me, are at a loss – for words, for an emotional outlet — right now. I'd like to say that no matter what, I’ll tune into Glee whenever it returns, but I know that I'll never be able to look at my show the same way again. I won't be able to watch Finchel, my favorite couple of all time, walk down the aisle. I won't be able to rejoice with my fellow fans as we finally watch Finn achieve his newfound dream of becoming a teacher. Will you be able to watch knowing that we'll never see these things happen?
I've always rooted for Finn. I laughed when he said something funny, smiled when he mastered a dance move, and swooned when he did something unbelievably sweet. But the only reason we all fell head over heels for Finn was because Cory Monteith, with his kind heart and soul, brought him to life. This past season, I came up with the perfect way to describe my favorite character on Glee and, due to the amazing work Cory left behind, it will always be true: "Finn Hudson: Out-shining all other men on TV since 2009."
From the bottom of my heart I want to say thank you. Thank you, Cory, for touching our lives and being a genuinely exemplary person. Rest in peace.