I started this post by talking about moving to Florida. I wrote about how Mike was my very first friend in Florida (aside from Joe, of course!), how he would come to keep me company when Joe worked, that he introduced us to all of his friends, how he taught me how to drive a stick shift and he is the reason why the three of us found our first house to rent.
Truth is, it’s hard to write about him. He would be 32 today – my age now. He would be an amazing uncle and Jacob would ask to see him constantly. He would be over for dinner regularly and filling up our weekends with impromptu beach trips (oh, how rough that would be!). We would have petty arguments over whether or not he drove on the grass and we would later laugh about the silly things that we fought about. Mike would be one of my biggest supporters in this journey and would be by our side every step of the way.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about how we all remember things differently. Something that I recall, clear as day, would be a reminder to someone else that the event even occurred. Or someone may have a distinct memory of me and I don’t recall that event and yet I love to hear the memory. We all have different perspectives and the fun is in sharing those perspectives and memories. That is something that I have been struggling with…ensuring that I share everything that I possibly can with those that I love. Big or small, it’s so important to share the memories that we have with each other. Passing on the traditions, reminiscing about the experiences and sharing your recollection allows each and every one of us to live on. Through those memories, each of us is allowed to live again even if we have passed.
One very late night when I first moved to Florida, Joe & I were playing cards at the kitchen table with Mike. He and I were having a very deep conversation about religion and God. I was passionately expressing my faith and he was trying to understand how and why there was purpose that was driven by God.
“Red, I don’t understand how something small and insignificant that I do has a bigger purpose. How is that driven by God’s will?”
“That’s just the point. Yes, you have free will – as we all do. But even the small things that you do impact those around you. They matter because whether you see the outcome or not, you are touching lives.”
He looked at me, put down the cards, stood up from the table and looked me in the eye.
“That’s it. That’s what I needed to hear. Thank you, Red.” And he went to bed.
I’ll never forget that night. It was just the three of us. And yet the intensity and simplicity of the night and the conversation is not lost on me. It’s a memory that deserves to be shared broadly…and an opportunity for Mike to continue living on through each of us.
In memory of Michael. We love you, always.
10.28.84 – 6.11.05