Dear Mike

Dear Mike,

The memorial service your parents arranged was a really good and healing experience for me, even if it was a little churchy. When the pastor got up to give his message, I couldn’t help remembering the discussion you had with the pastor who did my dad’s memorial service and how emphatically you made your point that not knowing what, if anything, happens after we die isn’t necessarily a cause for fear. You weren’t afraid to die, so you didn’t need to clutch at the promise of an afterlife. And I don’t need that either. I know you are at peace now, and that’s all I need to know. But your parents and many others are comforted by thinking of you in heaven, and I thought the pastor struck just the right note with his remarks, which were focused on God’s love and compassion.

Sean got up to speak this time, and you would have loved it. I was so proud of him. He spoke from the heart, without notes, unashamed of his tears. I wish we’d had someone recording this service because now I can’t remember exactly what he said… except the anecdote about you peeing over the edge of the Grand Canyon and the part about him teaching you to play golf, even if you weren’t very good, and you teaching him how to play guitar, even if he wasn’t very good.

Aja played her song, and I felt (just as I did at our service in California) that there could be no more fitting tribute from your daughter than to play a piece she had composed for you. I know you would have been so proud of her. And her remarks this time really touched my heart. A lot of it was directed to me, about how much I remind her of you and how easily I fit into the family. She’s so perceptive, your daughter, and in the last three weeks she’s displayed an uncanny ability to understand what I need — just like you did. Is that, perhaps, some part of your energy, your understanding that is now vested in her?

The night before the service Aja came to my room and we sat up talking and crying until 1:30 a.m. She told me that I’m one of the only people she can really talk to about how she’s feeling, and it’s because I remind her of you… because I’m so much like you. She confided something in me last week, something she hasn’t told her mom and hadn’t even shared with you yet — though she wanted to and I’m sure she would have in time — and I’m deeply moved by her trust in me. I hope that I can be worthy of that trust, that I can always be a safe place for her… and for Sean.

Getting back to the service, your old friend Winston did a fantastic job with the music. The requiem he sang a cappella to open the service was a beautiful tribute.  I loved that your friends chose “Wish You Were Here” to play, too. I don’t know if they did it because that’s what your friends played for you at the service in California or just because it was such a perfect song for you.  And at the end, when Joe Gross played Taps and then all your old band buddies joined in on their horns, and Darren on the snare, for a New Orleans jazz rendition of “Spirit in the Sky,” it was just perfect.

The other piece of music Winston chose was “Amazing Grace,” and we all sang it together.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

With tears rolling down my cheeks, I had a moment of revelation. Mike, your love was the Grace in my life. I once was lost, in a fantasy world of delusion and deception, and I had no faith in myself.  Before I met you, I felt wretched and unlovable. Your love, your belief in me, helped me find myself. I was blind to my own beauty until you showed me how to see myself through your eyes.

You may be gone, but your gift of Grace will always be with me. And I won’t waste it, I promise.  I will miss you every day for the rest of my life, but in honor of our love and your faith in me, I will get on with living my life the best that I can. And as I promised you in the hospital, I WILL finish my memoir and I will also write our story.

I love you so much, baby, always and forever.

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~ by hourbeforedawn on March 28, 2010.

4 Responses to “Dear Mike”

  1. When Mike found peace, Mike found heaven. It’s semantics ;-). I’m so glad the memorial service has helped you. It was beautiful, I can tell from your letter. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Honey,

    So beautiful… and so raw… so pure… My heart breaks for this path you find yourself walking – it never should have been. But, it is. I know you will find the beauty and grace in this leg of the journey and will emerge on the other side of this perilous valley stronger and with more to give the world because of your honesty.

    I love you

  3. Ah honey – now I have another reason to cry when I sing “Amazing Grace.” When you are feeling deep blue – read that paragraph again about what Mike gave you. I think you know how rare and beautiful what you and Mike shared…unique unto yourselves. Hold on, my friend.

  4. Dearest Lira,
    Winston Damon and Michael’s other musician friends decided what music to play at the Buffalo Grove service. My only request was for “Spirit in the Sky”. Joe Gross asked me if he could play “Taps” and of course it seemed a fitting tribute. That tune signifies the closing of the day, the lowering of the colors and in this case a final farewell to a beloved son, brother, husband, father, uncle, friend, musician, artist.
    I feel relief with the thought of my own mortal passing because I know that I’ll see my son again.
    I know that you were right for Michael! You complimented each other.

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