Friday, October 17, 2008

Final Farewell - by Bill Steinbach

This was read by Michelle's husband, Bill Steinbach, at her Memorial Mass on Thursday, October 16, 2008.

I started writing this eulogy in 1996. That was the year Michelle and I were engaged and then shortly thereafter she was diagnosed with an incurable terminal illness. I didn’t start writing because I am grim or pessimistic, in fact I was Michelle’s most boisterous cheerleader. I just wrote this gradually over the years, letting the words slowly fill the pages the way sand seeps through your outstretched hands at the beach, because I knew that one day I would need it.

Michelle was loved by so many, touched so many lives, and made each person feel special. Sometimes I had to chuckle at the number of people who knew and loved her anywhere we went. If it was at church, it would take us an extra 20 minutes to leave because of all her friends that wanted to catch up with her. At Forest View Elementary, anytime we walked down the hall she would be stopped by an unending collection of teachers, aides, other parents, and children. At a school event one evening a young blonde boy of about seven darted up to her in the hall and threw his arms around her and told her how happy he was to see her. After he scurried away back to his mother, who carried the same surprised look on her face as I did, I asked her, “Who was that?” She responded that he was a child in class whom she once noticed had trouble reading so she had spent extra time once every week for the past two months working closely with him. Once again I was simply in awe that she could touch so many. After we were at the Duke inpatient hospice facility for about 4 days the nurse practitioner told her, “You know, the entire staff adores you.” Michelle seemed genuinely surprised by this declaration, but I smiled inward and thought to myself “That figures, everyone loves her”.

A month ago a friend of mine was trying to console me and said that he was sorry that the way my life had unfolded was so unlucky. I assume that what he meant was that I was unlucky to be 36 years old and losing my wife. However, I think my confused stare caught him off guard, based on the perplexed gaze that reflected back at me. Unlucky, I thought? This all might be unfair, unjust, and undeserving, but I have never once considered myself unlucky. While all of you laughed at Michelle’s insatiable wit, cried at her brutal honesty, and basked in her raw humanity when you were with her - I got to keep her. I was the one who got to take her home, I was the one able to smirk and laugh together at our countless inside jokes, and I was the one who had endless late night dialogues with her about everything imaginable as we drifted off to sleep. I was lucky to have met her, lucky to have married her, and lucky to have loved her. Amelia and Aidan were lucky to have such an incredible mother and life teacher. Unlucky? I disagree. In fact, I am the luckiest man here. I had Michelle.

All of our friends have been unimaginably helpful – both in our many hours of need and when the waters seemed calmer. I once heard that character is what you do when nobody is looking, and I now think that friendship is what you do when nobody asks you. True friends just know, they just understand. Friends don’t have to be told, they sense it. They fill you up when you are empty, and they pick you up when you have fallen. We have honestly lost track of the sheer number of friends and neighbors who have sat by our family through the 10 rounds of chemotherapy, the numerous surgeries and hospitalizations, and the constant and draining demands. Nothing was ever easy for Michelle and I and Amelia and Aidan. Nothing. Nothing was ever carefree. But through our friends, we were able to live. It takes a village, and I am so thankful that I live in this village.

The goal of life, the goal of anybody’s life, in fact the only real goal in all of our lives, is to leave this world a better place. To create a lasting impression that you were there, that you made a real difference. To touch lives, to love and be loved. Michelle accomplished all of that and has forever bettered the existence of so many. Take a look around you in this church and you will see what she has done. Walk down the streets of our neighborhood and you will see the product of her work and love. She taught us about living, and now taught us about dying. I have never had a better teacher.

Michelle would have turned 40 in this coming January 18th. I can remember her telling me shortly after we first met that Muhammad Ali and her shared a birthday. I didn’t think much of this bit of trivia at the time, but over the years I thought how prophetic this little fact was, that she and the greatest fighter of all time shared a birthday. Shortly after she was diagnosed with scleroderma, she was told by two different rheumatologists that she would die very quickly. She was told that we would never have children. The problem was, those people did not realize Michelle and Muhammad Ali shared a bond and she was just as tenacious as him.

Michelle is also a gifted, witty, insightful writer. She has written for years for fun, for solace, and more recently for creating her legacy. Many of you followed her trials and tribulations through the blog she started. For those less technologically-inclined, a blog is a compilation of writings available on the internet. At the urging of her friend Stephanie, Michelle began to chronicle her life. As of yesterday there had been over 83,000 visits to her blog to read her writing. That fact alone is astronomical – 83,000 times people rushed to read the latest morsel of insight, the newest kernel of inspiration Michelle had offered. But what actually amazed me most were the comments that people left detailing how her prose had moved them. There were literally hundreds of people from around the world who had never met her but left comments that her inspiration, her courage, her honesty, and her strength had literally changed their lives. People who had stumbled onto her writing had spent hours and hours absorbing all they could, trying to wring out that last word like siphoning water from a sponge that has already been well-used. These confessions were not simply “Thanks for the eloquent writing”, but instead “Thank you for teaching me life’s lessons that I have been searching for years to find”. She made them live a little better, love a little more, and cherish each moment as it passes. She lived her life. Several people have told me that Michelle lived her life more fully preparing for her death, than most live during their entire lives. There are many academics here today from our two professional careers who have written a lot, but I doubt any of us has had hundreds of people sincerely write to tell us that what we wrote literally shaped their outlook on life.

Michelle had many people visit her over the last few months. As she would hold court, people would come. Michelle did not want each visit to be a rehash of her own medical troubles, and really simply wanted to return to normalcy and friendly banter. Inevitably, she would tell me, the conversation would slowly switch to something like “Well, I know this doesn’t compare to your problems, but …” and then the person would launch into a tale of some difficulty with a spouse, a co-worker, a project, whatever. She told me that she felt like a lightening rod, and people would come to her for advice, almost as if since she was bearing her soul that she must be someone who could be trusted. Now mind you that she embraced this opportunity and did not view the imposed role as a counselor as a burden. She was in fact relieved that she could, however briefly, serve as a healer instead of as the one who needed healing. I purposefully sat next to her for only a few of these visits, but I can remember one specific friend pouring out her current strife. Michelle sat like King Solomon and listened attentively for about 20 minutes, which if you know Michelle was a Herculian feat in itself. After listening she paused and offered a single piece of advice to the troubled friend. “Every day is a gift, act accordingly”.

Michelle loved to travel and she loved to eat good food. The marriage of these two devotions is apparent in the two times we lived abroad as a family in Europe. In the summer of 2004 we lived in Paris as I did a sabbatical at the Pasteur Institute and most importantly spent our time drinking and eating great French food. The children were 5 and 3 years old at the time and they became instant travel affecianados like their parents. About two years ago when Michelle sensed her own decline she confided in me that she had always wanted to live in Italy before she died. I then arranged with a colleague at the University of Perugia to spend a summer amongst the beautiful rolling hills of Umbria and in the summer of 2007 we lived in Italy simply because my wife wanted to do it. There we laughed and traveled as a family, creating invaluable memories. In fact, if you can convince your boss that spending a summer in Italy is necessary for your career, I highly advise it.

I want to end by telling you two quick stories about Michelle. While there are only a few of you who know about each story, my suspicion is that I am the only one who knows both. Today you can all share in what I have kept secret for years.

About 4 years ago Michelle had started a ministry here at St. Thomas More called the Elizabeth Ministry. She began it to fulfill a need – the need to support and help women with issues surrounding childbearing and infertility. Women helping women. Since the inception, the ministry has assisted many and was a great source of joy for Michelle. One day Michelle got a phone call from a 20 year old woman named Sandra from rural Pennsylvania who was unmarried and pregnant. Sandra was abandoned by the unborn child’s father and ostracized by her parents. She had driven down to a town she had never heard of called Chapel Hill with a new boyfriend to look for work. After a few weeks in Chapel Hill the new boyfriend left and Sandra was abandoned again. Her parents were so appalled at the unplanned pregnancy that they had disowned her, and now she was in a new place without anybody or anything. As she later told Michelle, Sandra went to St. Thomas More one Sunday for mass as a last resort – she literally did not know what else to do. As she was leaving mass, she saw the advertisement for the Elizabeth Ministry in the church bulletin and called our home phone number. Michelle talked to her and then later met with her. After Michelle heard the story she called around for Sandra – talking to this church, other churches, homeless shelters, and various pregnancy support services in the area. Each place offered a little something – mostly pamphlets, some clothes for mom or baby, but only the homeless shelter said that they could offer her a place to live. Michelle was not satisfied that a 20 year old pregnant girl should be living in a homeless shelter for the next 4 months.

This is when I got one of those unforgettable pages at work. “Yes, honey, what do you need?” I asked when she picked up the phone after her page had reached me. Quote: “Oh nothing big, but there is a 20 year-old girl that is pregnant and needs a place to stay for 4 months and I told her she could live with us. Oh, and Aidan needs more chicken nuggets at the store.” After a several second pause while I tried to interpret just what exactly I had heard, I responded with the questions that any sane spouse would ask – what in the world are you talking about, what do you know about this person is, and how did you meet her? She responded in her characteristic fashion “Yes, I know what I am doing, I already told you she is a 20 year-old pregnant girl, and I met her today after she called me. You really need to listen better. Oh, and make sure to get the large bag of chicken nuggets at the store, not the small one because those are so overpriced.”

At this point I made a mental note to contact the inpatient psychiatric facility on my way home. Later that week I met Sandra, but it was just a formality. Michelle had already determined she was an honest soul who was just wayward and needed help. I asked Michelle how she knew, and she responded that she just did. Sandra lived in our guest room for 3 and ½ months, and when she moved back to Pennsylvania she took with her some of our old baby furniture and clothing. To this day, we still get a card every Christmas from her and her daughter Bailey with a note in it that she remains eternally grateful that when she was most in need, a stranger believed in her, trusted her, and loved her when nobody else would.

Second story. I would suspect that statistically there are several of us in this church today that have been named after a family member or have named their own children after a family member. However, how many of you are named after a non-family member, or to think of it another way, how many of you have been moved so much by an individual that you have named your own children after a non-family member? When Michelle was getting her PhD she spent a summer in Africa working for the World Bank drafting a health care plan for Kenya. She spent most of that summer in Nairobi and was given a per diem amount of money to stay in one of the nicest hotels in the city. While this hotel was reportedly nice even by American standards, the per diem she received was astronomical by African standards. Michelle, of course, felt this inequity was unacceptable and she simply could not tolerate the monetary injustice. So, Michelle abandoned the posh American-style hotel and instead transferred to a perfectly comfortable Kenyan hotel, unloading the financial difference as incredibly large tips to whomever she could in the city in order to spread the wealth. While at this African-run hotel she met a woman who worked at the front desk of the hotel whose name translates to Lucy. Michelle and Lucy became friends throughout the summer, but Michelle later told me that it took some time as Lucy and the other Kenyans were just unaccustomed to wealthy American guests staying at their hotel, much less wanting to strike up friendly conversations. Michelle told Lucy about the beauty of America, and Lucy told Michelle about the beauty of her home country, Kenya. The bound was formed. A few years later Lucy became pregnant, and we received an extra card that year in addition to the semi-annual update from Kenya. Lucy had given birth to a beautiful baby girl, but her friends were perplexed as to the odd name she had chosen for her Kenyan daughter – she called her Michelle.

Years later Michelle and I realized we needed some help with the household chores as two full-time working parents and we hired a cleaning lady named Gloria. Gloria and Michelle were from vastly different backgrounds, but quickly became friends and Gloria soon became a member of our family. Gloria would practice her English, and allow Michelle to practice her Spanish. Gloria would tell Michelle about her crazy family in rural Mexico, and Michelle would tell Gloria about her crazy family in Northeast Philadelphia. Another bond was formed. A few years later Gloria became pregnant, and after the birth Gloria proudly told us the name of her new daughter – she called her Michelle.

Today is a good day. It will be hard for many of us to see that today, or tomorrow, or the next day. But it is. Michelle suffered for a long time. Today she is finally at peace, and today the healing for all of us begins. She had a ridiculous tolerance for pain and suffering, and remains to this day the strongest person I know. Scleroderma affected everything in her body, no organ was spared, and everything was in constant pain or discomfort. But the average person meeting her would probably not know that, she was simply a gifted magician able to cover it up and grimace through life.

Michelle was adamant she wanted people to remember her for her vitality, not her illness. Michelle was able to plan her own funeral – to pick out readings and songs that meant something to her, and to complete a slideshow of her life that she made and set to music. Immediately following this mass we will bring in a projection screen and remember Michelle by watching her life in pictures. She desperately wanted her friends and family to remember her for her life. When I asked her about continuing the annual New Year’s party we have thrown for several years, she responded “Make it a hell of a good party, the kind of big party that we always throw.”

When you die, what is the measure of a person? It’s clearly not the money you’ve amassed, or the papers you wrote, or the deals you closed. Instead, it’s the change you have made. It’s the number of people in the church celebrating your life and saying good-bye, it’s the over 83,000 times that people have read about your life and the impact you have made, it’s friends you’ve created along the journey willing to do anything, absolutely anything, because of who you are. That’s what you want when you die. That’s what Michelle got.

So to Michelle, the eternal mother of Amelia and Aidan, my wife, my lover, my partner, my confidant, and my best friend. Until we meet again honey, I love you.

39 comments:

LMP said...

Goodbye Michelle. Your courage, wisdom and wit will be missed, even by those who never had the priveledge of meeting you in person.
Bill- Thank you for sharing your final farewell and Michelle's goodbye with us. May you find peace as you journey forward and laughter in your memories.

-L

Butterfly Believer said...

Bill, Thank you so much for writing, reading, and sharing this most soul-touching eulogy to us. You could not have done a more beautifull job of putting Michelle's life story and meaning into words,

Peace, B

Michele in Michigan said...

Bill-Thanks for sharing with us. May you and your family feel the comforting hugs of cyber friends you've never met.

Take care and live well.

Michele in Michigan

Heidi said...

Bill,
Thank you for these letters. I thought of you and your family the day of the memorial, and sent any positive thoughts I could find. You are truly blessed, and that you see it and are thankful for it is wonderful. Thank you for being inspiring yourself. You and Michelle were definitely a great match. I hope you update us on how you all are doing.
Truly,
Heidi

MrsSarahMurray said...

I wish we could all be so lucky to have the love the two of you shared. Thank you for sharing this with us.

*Akilah Sakai* said...

Michelle: “Every day is a gift, act accordingly”.

True words I will follow more closely now than I ever did before.

Thanks so very much for sharing your Final Farewell.

Ellen said...

Thank you Bill, for sharing these words with us-both yours and yours. Beautiful, just beautiful!

I thought of your family all day yesterday as your started on the path toward healing. I imagined that there were many tears of sadness, and just as many tears of joy as stories were recalled and shared by all of Michelle's friends and loved ones.

I will always feel so gratitude for knowing Michelle, if only through her blog. I hope you will continue to keep checking in with us periodically to let us know how you and the children are doing. Know that you are all SO loved!

Wishing you all the best in the coming days....

Love, Ellen

Holy Crappers said...

Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

peace
#2

Deborah said...

Bill,
Thank you so much for sharing those words. Michelle was, and still is, special. She still lives that special life in her children, her friends and family and in you.
Deb

Cha Cha said...

Bill, thank you for sharing your beautiful tribute. My life is better because of Michelle, and I so appreciate your gracious sharing of your thoughts about your amazing wife.

My prayers are with you and your family.

you can call me e said...

That was incredibly beautiful.

If I had known that stumbling upon this blog a few months ago would so deeply impact my life and the way I want to live it, I would have searched for it much earlier. I wish you and your family the very best.
With love,
-E

Terri said...

Bill, Thank you for remembering Michelle's cyber-family by posting. While some have met or known her in this life, the rest of us look forward to meeting at the next stop.
With love and prayers, Terri

Kim said...

Bill,
Please accept my sincere condolences on the loss of such an amazing woman. I came across Michelle's blog about two months ago and was captivated by her story and her writing. Like everyone here, I hoped and prayed for a much different ending. Thank you for sharing the final chapter of Michelle's story in the same open, honest way that she always did. She would be proud! The other day I was listening to the radio and heard a song by Michael W. Smith called "How to Say Goodbye." I immediately thought of Michelle.
She taught me so much.

Many Thanks,
Kim

Lana said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing with us. :)

Linda Crispell said...

What a beautiful tribute to a remarkable person. Please count me in as one of the people Michelle had a huge impact on.
Linda

Lori said...

What an amazing woman! If we all were a little more like Michelle just think how wonderful our world would be!

Lori

I'm Angie said...

Bill - after my mom died I found it so difficult living in a world without her. Everything seemed less somehow. When my brother died this past December, the pain in my soul seemed ever present. I found myself wondering through Borders bookstore, almost with a pathetic desparation, trying to find some words of wisdom from the "experts"...anything, that could soothe the constant ache in my chest and relieve me of this terrible sadness. I asked God to allow me to experience angels; to send me someone who could say what I needed to hear, help me to understand what I needed to understand. And then I found Michelle's website. Her blog would leave me smiling on some days and weeping on others, and yet, I found myself returning to it. I don't know why, or to what extent, but of late I've felt my world shift a bit. Thank you for taking a precious moment during such a difficult time of loss to share the life you've shared with Michelle, a truly amazing woman. I didn't find Michelle's website by accident. I truly believe it was just God leading me to one of his own. God bless you and your lovely children.

CathiFSU said...

Bill, I am so sad that Michelle lost her battle, but so thankful she was able to know that she was so deeply loved. Yours is a true love story, the love of a lifetime that most of us never experience. No wonder Michelle was determined to have children despite her illness - she knew that should the worst occur, she would leave them in the hands of such a wonderful, loving, life-loving man. I did not know Michelle, I'm just another of the anonymous readers of her blog who will never forget her. I think of her daily, and am drawn to return to the blog every night to read comments and re-read old posts. Have you considered publishing her blog in book form? I find myself wanting to print every entry so I can read them over and over again. Every time I visit I am given renewed energy to be more patient and more present in my life. I am also the mother of two small children, and Michelle faced my greatest fear with such dignity, forethought and grace. My heartfelt best wishes to you and your children as you continue the journey without her.

Jeanne said...

Bill....I am just one of those 83,000 people. Your wife taught me many lessons in the short time that I have known her and now you have too. You are an amazing man, a wonderful and compassionate husband, a loving and supportive dad. I can see that you learned alot from Michelle, but I am just as sure that she learned alot from you. I will never forget her....or you....or the wonderful lessons I have learned here.

Life is a gift; act accordingly. I love it.

Rest in peace, Michelle. Thank you for sharing a part of yourself with me.

((hugs))
Jeanne

Amy said...

That was the most breathtakingly beautiful tribute I have ever read. I wish I could have known Michelle in real life. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you begin these days of healing.

AJ said...

WOW... Never has anyone touched me the way Michelle has and I never even had the chance to meet her. I can only imagine how much she would of touched me if I had ever had the chance to sit down and talk with her. Of course, with all the people she knew and loved her, it looks like I would have had to knock them out of my way to get that chance!!:)

And what a wonderful "final farewell"... Bill, it was perfect! Even though your life together was too short, you had something special that most people never have in there entire lifetime! What a wonderful gift!

Thanks so much for including us in your life together. I am a very private person and cannot imagine letting so many people into my life the way you have but I thank you for it. I will never forget your family and you will always be included in my prayers. One thing I do know, your family will be just fine because Michelle made sure of that! She was truly a special person!
AJ

Herb said...

Bill,
Two years after my mother died my Dad wrote "...in twelve years there are many desert hills." He was referring to a hill near the University of New Mexico, where they courted.
We have never met. You will know me as Elizabeth's dad - one of my proudest titles. I'm writing to give you a few words of encouragement. I was barely 5 when my mother died; my sister was 18 months. In looking back, I realize that there were many people who gathered around us and helped my dad, my sister and me get through this.
Much later (56 years) I put together a collection of photos and my mother's poetry.Our middle son David helped me put them in a blog. You can read the story here www.marieely.com/introduction. It contains several of her occasional poems and here reflections on 18th century icons painted by Franciscan missionaries to what is now the state of New Mexico.
Because of my own background, I share in your sense of loss. You and your family can get through this. I promise you that you will be in my prayers.
Herb Ely

Imran said...

Bill, your eulogy was beautiful. I wish I had the opportunity to personally meet Michelle, but in reading her blog, I feel like I already know her so well. As an aspiring physician, her words are teaching me so much. I know she is in a better place now. Rest in peace, Michelle.

Imran

Devin said...

Goodbye Michelle. I have so enjoyed reading your blog the past few months. I hope that someday I can make as graceful an exit. May God continue to bless your family.

Devin in Texas

desert dirt diva said...

once again Bill thank you for sharing this with us,Michelle was an honest person and i will be a better parent and person because of her blog!
oh and 1 more thing my youngest daughters name is michelle...good name she is only 8,whe a twin and i hope she grows to be as stromg as your michelle!

vicki

P.s. i miss her blogs..I hope i'm not being selfish..but i do..goodbye michelle, you'll be forever remembered!

Caroline said...

Thank you Bill for sharing your Farewell with the world. I was so sad all week thinking of Michelle's passing...on Thursday I said a prayer knowing you and your family were gathered together saying goodbye to your beautiful wife, Mom, daughter, sister & friend.

I waited until today to log on, knowing that your eulogy & Michelle's goodbye would be posted. I just didn't want to say goodbye.

She lived so fully in 39 years...many who live much longer don't accomplish a fraction of what she did. Hers was a life well lived...she's an inspiration to each and every one of us who were lucky enough to be touched by her.

For so many of us to feel that we lost a friend (when most of us on this blog never even had a chance to meet her) is a true testimony to what a beautiful human being she was.

You, the children and your families remain surrounded in prayers. I know you have the loveliest guardian angel watching over you now.

God bless,
Caroline
(Philly Girl in CA)

Anne said...

Thank you Bill for sharing Michelle with us and for giving us a chance to say good bye to her.. like others, i stumbled across this blog a couple of months ago when i was stuck at home on bedrest... i would sit for hours and just read, thinking about my unborn son and 5 year old daughter and what *I* would do for them if it was needed.. and what i would do for my husband..

I keep coming back, hoping for a new blog from michelle.. i don't think i'm ready to let go yet.. i read and re read old entries, comments from people.. anything to keep from having to let go :( i'm still waiting for the birth of my son.. maybe thats why?

anyway, Michelle really made me stop and look at my life and what kind of memories i was making with my daughter..and what memories i will make with my son, and how i interact with my husband.

Thank you michelle...

Maggie said...

Bill, I wish you Amelia and Aidan strength on your grief journey. Your generous postings of your "final farewell" was was magnificent and helpful to all of us who are grieving our own loss of your sweet Michelle. A loss of someone we never met but loved and admired like she was our own family. Our days were consumed with thoughts and prayers for her health and we could hardly wait to sign on to read about her newest endevor. Her endearing wit, candor, charm, incredible wisdom, fortitude, insight and PASSION gave us all wings and we will carry her in our hearts forever more. May God bless and keep you and your precious children Bill. Thank you for remembering all of us who care SO MUCH..Maggie

boybandreject72 said...

Bill,

I'm one of those 83,000 viewers who loved to see what Michelle had to say. Her writings were beautiful and made us think. I will sorely miss reading her thoughts and stories.

The other day I had a chance to visit the cemetery which my friend and grandparents were laid to rest. As I visited both grave sites, I told them I hoped everything was going okay wherever they are, and that they please watch out for Michelle and to take her in because she was a wonderful person who is missed.

She was surrounded by wonderful people in her life on Earth, and she is now surrounded by wonderful people in her afterlife.

-Dan from NJ-

gweb said...

Bill, Michelle's insights into life moved and inspired me, and I'm deeply sorry for you and your children's loss.

I lost my mom to breast cancer when I was 9, now, 26yrs later it still hurts. Amelia and Aidan's feeling of loss will never go away, and may even grow in the years ahead.

I came a across a book recently that I wish I had read at that age - You Are Not Alone by Lynne Hughes. She started a bereavement camp that may help them in their journey - http://comfortzonecamp.org

Take care,
Philip

Misti said...

Dear Bill, Amelia, Aiden, family and friends of Michelle
Thank you so much for sharing Michelle via blog land..especially knowing each minute was precious and limited. Michelle has touched me in a way that has exalted her to heroic status in my mind. Michelle sits right there beside my mentor, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.
I know it is strange to most people, but, it has always been my dream to make death an easier transition for families by helping the families create some positive moments and experience open communication, even during the final days. I did find out this idea was possible during my internship and former employment with a local Hospice (as a Bereavement Counselor). Most importantly, I have seen how this idea can be taken to a higher level, like Michelle has so eloquently done.
During my time at Hospice, I came in contact with thousands of families, patients and their friends. Not once did I encounter someone as comfortable as Michelle talking (writing) about their own terminal disease. It is almost unimaginable that someone, at her age, can face death with such courage and still find a way to love all those around her. Her cup was/is full and spilling over with love.
With all of that being said, Michelle has inspired me to continue my dreams. Unfortunately, I let my dreams go dormant, not knowing how to put it together and/or iron out the details. So, somehow I will find my niche. I will figure out how to encourage and help terminally diagnosed people to create a recorded legacy that is filled with words of wisdom and special moments to leave behind for their loved ones. Especially, the ones with children.
The importance of life boils down to love. When someone leaves such a great legacy it makes it easier for us mortals to see that their love lives on forever.
In closing, thank you for sharing Michelle. This world is a better place with the influence and inspiration she has gifted us. Also, wishing all of you (her dear family and friends) all the comfort God has to offer and may you feel the embrace of her wings that she earned.

Misti

P.S. Goodbye Michelle...I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to see my dreams with fresh eyes and inspiration.

Comida Lista said...

I found about Michelle this morning reading the Washinton Post and I was in tears when I was reading the blog. I wanted to let you know that the love and passion she conveys runs all over my soul. My husband runs a blog for hispanics and we love to help people around the world. I can't wait to tell her about Michelle and how wonderful she was. I am so sorry about your loss, at the end she manage to tell people who she was with her writing, I just met her 5 hours ago and I am forever change by her messages.
Thank You, and Michelle for helping sick and healthy around the world.

Starshine said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I linked to this blog from another one, and have been reading about Michelle. May God comfort you and your family.

Heart said...

I have never read a more moving and incredibly loving eulogy to anyone in my life.. !!!!!! I feel lucky myself to have stumbled upon Michelle's blog.. Thank you for keeping her memory alive!

Katie Berryhill said...

I learned about Michelle from a Facebook post on our class reunion page. While I never met her, we were classmates at Penn, graduating 20 years ago today. She sounds like an amazing woman, and I thank you for memorializing her by allowing the world to continue to read her blog. My kids are just a little younger than yours, and her writing about your kids is so poignant. My hope for you and your kids is that you are able to draw on your memories of her obvious strength to bring as much to this world as she did in her much-too-short time.

Katie Berryhill
Penn '90

Carol Manfé Lopes said...

Bill, the story of Michelle's life is an example for us. Her legacy is very important and and teaches us many things about the like and death. Thank you very, very much. Carol from Brazil.

Carol Manfé Lopes said...

Bill, the story of Michelle's life is an example for us. Her legacy is very important and and teaches us many things about the life and death. Thank you very, very much. Carol from Brazil.

MOVIE CRAZY said...

You have an amazing post. I read it several times. Read a similar post in mine too! Death

Anderson F. said...

I didn't understand everything Michelle says. My english is not so good... But it's a very touching, happy and sad history.

Thank you, Bill, for sharing thouse intimate moments with us. God bless you and your children.

Anderson Franco from Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil.