March 11th, 2020 Wednesday 7:33pm – Michael, Hershey Bars & Quality
Yesterday, my “Day 6” of this late night journaling thing — I got a call from my dear friend Alice. She lives in Boston. I’ve known her since I was just 11 years old. When Alice calls, I stop what I’m doing and pick up the phone. It’s rare to get a call from her – usually we exchange texts and emails around special holidays and such and when we’re in each other’s “town”, we visit with each other if and when we can. It’s a solid friendship. An old friendship. It’s one of those friendships that needs no explanation or excuses. We just pick up from where we left off. Easy. Doesn’t matter how much time has passed. It always feels like just yesterday we last spoke…
I picked up the phone, excited to have seen her number and name show up on my cell so I answered happily. Sadly, she was calling to talk about Michael having died the Friday before and thought, because I was on social media, I might have already known through his brother’s post or something. But I hadn’t.
I wasn’t shocked that he had passed away. But it hurt my soul nonetheless. It bothered me the rest of the day. Michael had recently gone through a liver transplant about 8 months ago. He’d had this pretty interesting and incredible life…so many ups and downs, and yet, he always found a way through them all. In so many ways he was a pillar of strength. It really seemed like he had 9 lives or was just indestructible. He’d been through so much, I just never thought he’d pass away. Alice mentioned something that made me feel so much better – she reminded me that after all Michael had been through in his life, the idea that he would end up passing away, on the couch, after talking to his mother, might really be the blessing none of us would have guessed would happen. She’s right. He had a quiet and simple passing. At least compared to what might have been many times before…it really was the blessing.
I’ve been thinking about his family and friends all day. I hung out with Michael when he visited Los Angeles on New Year’s in 2009. I picked him up from the airport and then we drove to Simi Valley or somewhere like that to spend the weekend with another friend, Donnie. I told Alice about that time and reminisced for a bit and I think she heard me get pretty sad, because she then reminded me to eat some chocolate in his honor – Michael loved Hershey bars and I could honor him by doing that. Eating chocolate! It made me laugh a bit…
What I thought about today though was how easily one life could change another’s. I keep having these thoughts in my head that I’m not doing enough in my life, that I’m wasting away somehow because I feel that my reach is not big enough and that I should be helping more people. I should be doing more. I’m honestly not sure what it is I think I can do to help the world, but does anyone else out there ever feel like you could be doing so much more, if only if…? I find myself feeling inadequate most days, like I’m wasting too much time and just not doing enough…
But I realized today that Michael, just like my mother, changed and molded my life just by being simply who they were. My mom’s influence is pretty obvious. But I met Michael when I was just a kid and even though he was going through his own private hell, he made sure to walk me through, by paying attention to an annoying teenager and by offering a tough-kindness and words of wisdom that I still hold onto today. Michael is one of the people I wrote about in my book. And this is in no way a push of my book on anyone, but to actually demonstrate how important Michael was to me. His presence in my life mattered and there’s no doubt it helped make me the woman I am today.
I guess what I’m saying is simply this: It’s not the amount of people you know that matters – what matters is the quality of the moments you have with every person you do get to meet. And whether Michael was talking to high profile folk (he knew quite a few) or just a kid like me back in the day, Michael was authentically Michael! There was nothing fake about him. Michael changed me and made me a better person, just by being himself. Our moments together in the big scheme of things were few, but they were quality times and life changing for me. I’m so grateful to have spent the time I did with him and I’ll always cherish the letter he wrote to me (that I still have! I found it today) and that crazy fun New Year’s Eve weekend we spent hanging out in Donnie’s living room laughing and reminiscing about life in Jamaica Plain (Boston).
I’m gonna run out and grab a couple of Hershey Bars before I call it a night.
I love you Michael, forever and a day. Godspeed my friend. Godspeed.