LANGDON — Later this week in the high school gymnasium in Langdon, the community will say goodbye to John Freer.
He was just nine years old, but he was a warrior. He battled cancer most of his young life, and while he leaves behind an incredible family and group of friends, one boy from Fergus Falls has an incredible story of friendship because of what they shared.
Nine-year-old Isaiah Lawson has stored away some cherished memories of his best friend.
"We just kind of had the same personalities," says Isaiah Lawson. "We were together since we knew each other."
John and Isaiah met six years ago.
Same age: three.
Same childhood cancer: neuroblastoma.
They were hospitalized together for weeks at a time during their young lives at Sanford.
"One time we were in the same room and we snuck out of there and almost got into the playroom," says Isaiah.
The two became joined at the hip after fighting for their lives together.
Isaiah says John taught him to never give up on anything.
"I think Isaiah has found a friend who has become a hero," says Isaiah's mom, Christine. "It is not often in life you would look on a friendship, a best friend, and say, 'that's my hero.'"
Isaiah is cancer free, and so when John's cancer returned aggressively recently, it was Isaiah who asked to visit John more than once.
"We both just never gave up on each other," says Isaiah.
Life picked up where it left off: laughter and video games, but also reality.
"Isaiah had gone in for some appointments, and it was his final follow up appointment," says Christine. "Dr. K said, 'You know, Isaiah, I think today is the day you could ring your bell for being cancer free, and maybe you could ring it for John today, too.' I knew what he was talking about. I knew what he was saying."
He rang the bell for his buddy, John, who died just hours later.
There is one thing Isaiah wants people to know about his friend.
"He was a good friend. He was caring, he had a good heart."
John's memorial service will be held this Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at the Langdon Public School Gym.
The prayer service is also at the gym Friday night, starting at 7 p.m. with visitation before.