10 Things Michael Taught Me

Joe_Michael 1

I have come to realize many things over the last year. One of which is the value of friendship. People tweet, read each other’s blogs, like pictures on Facebook, e-mail, and yet in this age of technological explosion nothing comes close to hearing someone’s voice, looking them in the eye or reading words they scribed on a hand written note received in the mail. The latter I am trying to put into practice more and more.

I know that certain lives bless our own for reasons unbeknownst to us. Some people are meant to be in our lives for a long time. Others only a few short moments, sent by God to enter our lives fleetingly. To serve a purpose, and fill a hole in our soul that it needs. Whether it’s negative or positive. These are forever friends, and I know you have some too. But sometimes the realities of life, and how frail it can be, force us apart. I make a point to try to hold on to these friends the best I can. Life is too short not to be with the ones who make me happy. Michael was one such individual.

My friend and brother died three months ago from complications of Cancer.

IMG_7514Even now it’s hard to write these words.  It’s hard to believe he’s gone. Michael was one of the most positive people I’ve ever had the pleasure of coming in contact with. I cherished the time we had together, We sang, played golf, cards and debated major life questions together.  When I think back at all the time we spent in each others company, I’m filled with so much love and great sadness.  At his memorial service at St. Lawrence Catholic Church, I sang with the choir. I was the cantor for the mass while his older sister Peggy played piano. I sang God’s Own Fool, a song we used to sing in harmony together, during the Offertory.

Nothing really prepares you for that moment. Nothing.

Michael was positive to the very end.  He was surrounded with family and love.  The day before his memorial service we spent some time at my older brother Daniel’s home and reminisced about Michael and how he touched our lives.  Michael and I also sang at Daniel and Linda’s wedding in 1995.  We watched their wedding video, of which we were both singing, and we marveled at younger days. That video made us all smile, chuckle, and tear up with happiness. The consensus was clear: We all missed Michael, and 46 is way to young to die.

Friends grow apart by distances of geography, different viewpoints, or life stages. Sometimes they pass on to a higher place. In any case, I try to treasure the moments I spend with them, because I never know when that hole in my soul will be filled, and then the ones I love will move on, whether I want them too or not.

10 things my relationship with Michael taught me.

  1. Walk up and say hello. You just might make a friend.
  2. Use your voice.
  3. Stand up for yourself.
  4. Faith is important.
  5. Service is necessary.
  6. Golf only gets better with practice.
  7. Some country music is worth listening too.
  8. There are no guarantees, even if life gives you a second chance.
  9. Fatherhood is everything.
  10. Your time is the most valuable gift you can give someone you love.

 

IMG_7529

A Complete 180 Degree Shift

What should a person do when they realize that someone they looked up to for decades made a choice to give up?

That their hero was not strong enough.

When all this time you thought that events transpired was merely God’s will, when in fact it was not, stripping you of memories and moments that could never be replaced?

Would you blame them?

Forgive them?

Would the legacy of this person be forever tarnished?

Would the false memories consume you?

Would the anxiety become to much to bear?

Please tell me,

What’s the right thing to do?