Last year one of my friends passed away. His name is … was Mike, and we had worked together at SANYO. I knew him for 13 years.
While attending his funeral service and brief reception afterwards, I had several people tell me that I had been Mike’s best friend. I wish I had known that before. I wouldn’t have allowed so much time to pass between phone calls, emails and visits, despite the distance between us.
At the service, there wasn’t a chance for his friends to share their memories of Mike. I’d like to share with you now what I would have said then. At least using this medium I will be able to get through it:
I am so glad I had an opportunity to see Mike only a week before he passed away. DH2U and I drove up to meet Mike in Temecula, which was the half way point between our homes. I had really wanted the two men to meet, as I had told them each so much about the other. During our visit we did what Mike and I often did together … watched a movie.
Over the years Mike and I watched a seemingly endless stream of movies together – across all the genres. Whether it was an arty piece at a Landmark Cinema or a silly comedy (we saw SuperBad together), it didn’t matter. It was all about the movies. Years ago I won tickets to go see the sneak peak of Kinsey, and Mike joined me in the filled-to-overflowing theatre. We both giggled as they handed out mini rulers to everyone in the audience. (Okay, I probably would have left his part out in the church, but I love that memory of him.)
We shared a lot of laughs together … and a lot of tears.
Mike was an excellent sounding board and helped me pull things back together again when everything seemed hopeless. He also wasn’t afraid to ask for a supportive shoulder when he needed it. While I was living in England, I made sure to send him an email at least once a month and called him every couple months. He had some dark days in there, with unemployment and INS fights, when he needed someone to talk to and didn’t seem to have enough of a support system in place. I’m so glad I was able to help him, even though I felt helpless to make things better.
Even in his darker days, he always managed to find a way to end a conversation on an up note. He told me later … after the fog of depression had eased … that he wanted each of our conversations to have cheery moments. He made those bright spots seem unforced, so I hadn’t realized at the time how much effort they must have taken of him.
There were definitely brighter days in there, too.
Mike turned his love of reading into a passion for writing. He had just finished writing his first novel, and he had let me read some of the early goings. It was sci fi, which I love, and this early draft showed some definite potential. He had wonderful ideas and developed a strong story line.
When we met up for the last time, it was the best I’d seen Mike look in years. He had had numerous health issues, but he was seeming so much better, and for the first time in nearly a decade, he was … happy! He was in a job he liked and where he was appreciated, he was already to tackle the new and exciting prospects of getting his book published, and his health was improving! I can’t remember the last time I’d seen him smile so much and be genuinely looking forward to the future.
I was in shock when his son called me 9 days later to tell me of his passing. This outstanding young man was able to maintain his composure while sharing the bad news with all of Mike’s friends.
I am so glad my last memory of Mike was so upbeat. I’m also glad that as a movie buff, the last film he saw was so good (Super 8). He was a good man and a great friend. I feel fortunate to have had him play a part in my life for so long.
Mike, you are missed.