Remembering Mikey

Dear Mikey,

I miss you. I miss you and I think I’ll always miss you. But I hate that I have to miss you in this way.

I hate that now I have to talk to you with only my heart. I hate that I still wait for you to message me every year on my birthday, knowing in my heart and mind that it won’t come. I hate that we never actually got together over those college breaks, even though we casually planned to every year on our birthdays. I hate that as much as I want to share this with you, the reality is that you’ll never see this letter.

Homecoming 2008. One of the last times that I saw Mikey in person.

I hate that I had to learn what grieving meant through your sudden absence. I know that we all have to learn this lesson, but I hate that you had to be the one to teach me about it. I wasn’t ready to learn how to grieve yet, Mikey. I wasn’t ready to feel that emptiness inside. I wasn’t ready to cry for hours and wonder if the tears would EVER stop. I wasn’t ready to be reminded of you in small, simple ways and have to stop to catch my breath. I wasn’t ready to feel the guilt of a smile once I remembered that you were really gone. I wasn’t ready to only be able to see you in my dreams.

I hate that I didn’t know how much pain you were in, Mikey. I hate that even if I had known, I probably wouldn’t have known what to do. More than that, I hate that you’re gone, Mikey. It’s been 3 years and this still feels like a nightmare. Like they’re talking about the wrong person. “Not MY Mikey!” Not my rat-tail and high-top wearing, forever smiling, making everybody laugh, Mikey.

This is the Mikey I’ll always remember. My childhood friend. My day nursery buddy.

I hate that I still have so many questions that I’ll never have the answers to because I can’t ask you.  I hate that my heart still sinks every time your name or picture pops up on my timeline for your birthday or the anniversary of your transition Home.

Your transition awakened a simultaneous pain and passion in me, Mikey, that I’d never known before. I’d lost people before you, but I never had to truly grieve, especially not for my friend. The world kept going, Mikey, but it didn’t feel right. How was I supposed to go to class knowing that you weren’t here anymore? Nothing about that seemed fair and it still doesn’t.

But because of that pain…because of the pain that came with the (unexpected) mourning of your transition, I am forever dedicated to making sure that our young people have access to the support that they need. Your life and legacy won’t be in vain, Mikey. Not if I have anything to do with it.

In a strange way, your transition also brought me, Julie & Chelsea closer together. We supported each other in a way that would’ve made you proud. We all love and miss you so much, Mikey. It amazes me that even in your physical absence, you’re still bringing people together in a way that only you knew how to do.

No one prepared me to lose a friend at 23, Mikey. No one prepared me for the process of (one day) accepting this transition. My heart still hurts and if given the time, I could probably cry for hours about how it feels knowing that you’re gone. I hate that we didn’t love you better, Mikey. You deserved so much better than what the world offered you.

But even in the thousands of unanswered questions that I still ask myself and the tears that I still shed whenever I remember your absence, I know (now) that you’re okay. You’re in God’s presence and that’s the safest place that any of us can one day hope to be.

Whenever I hear the thunder during a rain storm, I know that you’re up there strolling or laughing with my PaPa. I have to believe that because it’s one of the few things that brings me comfort in your absence. It reminds me that you’re okay and that I can be, too.

Happy 27th birthday in Heaven, Mikey! I love you. The world misses you and your light so much.

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