Friday, October 17, 2008

Goodbye - by Michelle Mayer

This was written by Michelle and read by one of her best friends, Marie, at her memorial mass on Thursday, October 16, 2008.

Today is your day to say good-bye to me and support one another. But given my advanced warning, it is also my day to say good-bye to you. Whether you played a leading or secondary role in my life or merely had a cameo appearance, thank you for being a part of it. Sometimes even the most quixotic of meetings are life-changing.

I hope that you do not feel sad for me. I have had a good life. The fact that I wanted more of it is merely a testament to how much I enjoyed the ride. I had parents who loved me and supported my dreams even when it meant losing me. I had four brothers who taught me often and well to roll with life’s punches, literally and figuratively, and who took a pride in my accomplishments that I could never bother to muster. I grew up in working class Philadelphia where I learned not only to appreciate what I had but also the value of hard work.

Throughout my life I have enjoyed the benefits of wonderful friendships. My friends from adolescence -- Marie, Sue, and Kevin -- have been with my through it all and, at times, their love and support carried me. Had I known that losing everything in a housefire would set in motion a string of events that led to my friendship with Grace, I would have burned the damn thing down myself. In Grace, Marie and Sue I found the sisters that family did not provide. There have been so many friends along the way – too many to name but they know who you are – who have made my life a richer experience. Paul and Brenda introduced me to Hearts, Greg and Stephanie to bourbon and ginger, Kathryn taught me to mother without yelling constantly by sheer example, Jen was my faith when I had none … the list goes on and on. My life would have been hollow without these relationships.

I married into a wonderful family that welcomed me with open arms. Even though I had enough brothers, I was happy to welcome two more and engage them in talking smack. And my sisters-in-law were well worth the wait: wonderful women with big hearts and ready ears.

I have traveled the world and seen amazing sights. I have enjoyed fabulous food and drink at home and abroad. I have laughed often and hard enough to cause pain or pee my pants on multiple occasions. I smiled a lot. I danced whenever the opportunity presented itself. I sang.

I knew the love of a wonderful man who accepted me unconditionally under less than ideal circumstances. I never doubted his love for even a moment. He was my rock and my safe haven.

I had two beautiful, wonderful children who showed me the wonders of the world through unjaded eyes. The peace I experienced holding then as infants was otherworldly. As they grew, I grew with them; rearing them made me a better human being. They have been my life’s greatest joy. And leaving them is my life’s greatest pain.

I think regrets are worth mentioning, maybe something can be gleaned from them: I wish I kept performing even when I was only good enough to be in the chorus; I wish I had worked less, I wish I had been more gentle with people’s hearts; I wish I had read more books; I wish I had done more for those less fortunate; I wish I had listened more and talked less.

Despite these regrets, I feel it has been a life well lived. What more could I have asked for? I had everything I ever hoped for and then some.

When Amelia and Aidan were small we had a conversation about death. They asked if I would die some day and I answered them honestly. “But then I won’t have a mother,” Amelia responded. I paused and then reassured them, “You will not always have me physically, but I will always be in your heart.” “And you know what,” I continued, “Life gives you lots of mothers, not just the one who raised you. I’ve had lots of mothers and you will too. You will always have someone to mother you when you need it. You just have to be open to them.” So this is my dying wish, be a mother to my children as needed. And a friend to Bill.

And until we meet again, godspeed.


Samaire Anson said...

bill, know that you are in my thoughts. i know that you and the kids will transition well knowing and believing that michelle is watching over you all.

she touched my life with her words and her soul. you had something rare and beautiful and for that i envy you.

god bless.

Becky Brown said...

Bill, thank you for posting this incredible gift. My heart thanks Michelle for writing it.

Terri said...

Oh Michelle, I know you're still following this blog. You'll be forever nearby your family and friends. How blessed they are to count you as one of their own. So many of us have said we've learned lessons from you. If we only utilize 1/4 of what you've shared, this earthly place will be far, far better. Until we meet...
With love and prayers, Terri

Linda Summerfield Crispell said...

Michelle's last posting was beautiful. I am so very grateful for the lessons I have learned from this extraordinary woman.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Chip said...

Thank you so much for posting this, her strength was remarkable.

Mom of two boys said...

Michelle...I miss you dearly. You are one of a kind! You have left such an impact on my life and I will never forget you.

Bill, Aiden and Amelia you were so blessed to have this amazing woman in your life Always remeber that she will always be with you.

God Bless

Anonymous said...

I want to be sure the followers of Michelle's blog know that they were present at her funeral in a very special way. The entrance to the church was decorated with posters bearing pictures of Michelle surrounded by printed comments from this blog. (Marie, were you in charge of making the posters?) Cyber-friends, your words were a comfort to the many friends and family who were blessed to know Michelle personally and who celebrated her life on Thursday. Thanks, Amy

Anonymous said...

ALL I CAN SAY IS WOW.. I am overwhelmed by this entire blog. Overwhelmed. Such a special woman, and such a special family.

Unknown said...

Wow have truly touched the world & we are all better for having met you. I will miss your wonderful writings - they were beautiful, heartbreaking, funny & inspiring all at once.

You made each of us feel like we were special guests in your cyber-home here on this blog. I am eternally grateful for the lessons you shared with us. Thank you!

Until we meet again, may you rest in peace & may God bless Bill, the children & your entire family. I know they now have a beautiful guardian angel watching over them.

With Friendship & Gratitude,
(Philly Girl in CA)

P.S. Thank you Amy for letting those of us out here in cyberspace know that we were present on Thursday via that very special poster. I know I was there in my heart & prayers as well. God bless!

yoly Tockman said...

Thank you Bill for sharing Michelle one last time with us.
Thank you Amy for letting her cyber-friends know we did matter to Michelle as much as she mattered to us. Eventhough we never met her, through her words and wisdom we all found a wonderful true humanbeing and she became a part of out lives, even if just for a few brief months we are all better humanbeings now and understand what is important in life.
At the end of the night we would all log in to make sure that our friend Michelle was doing okay. It was like checking in with a dear family friend regularly.
I was hoping it would end so differently though and for that I am soo SORRY for Bill and the children.....

I think it is incredible that her final sentences/words were to make sure that the children and Bill would find comfort in others when needed.. Michelle was so thoughful and full of love for her family... even to the final end.....
THANK YOU MICHELLE for reminding us how to live...... may we all make you Proud.
You have done your job, now you can rest.....
I wish you PEACE...

Erin said...

I started reading this when Dean Rimer sent out a notice to the SPH about Michelle's story and her blog. I've been reading it ever since and I'm so sorry to hear about Michelle's passing. Everything that she wrote was so insightful and true to life. I found myself typing in the blog address and hoping for some of her amazing advice on life (and death) only to realize that there wouldn't be any more anecdotes from her. I'm a student at the SPH and although I never had the privilege of meeting Michelle, she is the kind of person who makes me want to study public health. She seemed like the type of person who really understood that we have to take care of one another.

I hope all the best life can offer for you and your family. My dad passed away when I was 6 and although there was a void without him, I still had a wonderful, happy and fulfilling childhood. Michelle and your family will be in my thoughts.

Feisty Irish Wench said...

My own mother knew she lacked in maternal skills, and managed to find plenty of other mothers to be around us. She needed their example, and we children needed another mother to share herself with us. Likewise, even as an adult I have surrounded myself with other motherly women who teach me, and care for me in some fashion or another. It's the only way I've known, and I can't imagine having survived without it. It's especially handy since my mom died in 2005, and find myself needing some mothering on occasion.

kissia said...

I want to start by saying that if there ever was a hero Michelle is it .I never got the pleasure of meeting Michell and her Family but i do know her Mother and Father and they are wonderful people and my heart goes out to all of you . In reading the things that she said on this blog it had made me realize that you are tested in your life and it is in your control to handle things that are handed you .

My only regret is that i never got to meet such a wonderful person as Michelle and she is truly a Angel that God need in heaven. Her strength and attention to detail is something that her family should be very proud of.

She is truly an amazing women and even though she is no longer here with the people that loved her so much they should feel so proud of what she accomplished while she was here and know that her strength will be carried on in her husband and children.

Jim and Clair you as parents should be so proud of her and she will always be in your heart.

To Keith and her other brothers you have a angel watching over you. You may not have her to call on the phone or at family functions but she will always be with you and with everyone that had the honor of knowing her .

God Bless you all and most of all Thank You Michelle for sharing such a wonderful memory of your life.

Catherine ( Lisa's cousin)
Philadelphia Pa