just before i woke up
on tuesday, the day of michael’s funeral,
i had this dream.
i was with my family at a crowded pool, right near the beach. all of a sudden, in the crowd, there was michael, in a swimsuit and tank. i ran over to him, shocked, and said,”michael, i thought you were dead!” he got a somber look on his face and said, “i’m supposed to die in 7 days.” i was sad then, and he looked sad too, but then he asked for a ride home. so my family and i took him in our car and drove him home, and on the way we talked normally, both about his death and other things, as if it were no big deal. and then, all of a sudden, it was a fast forward to 7 days, the day michael would die and also the day of his funeral. i was sad and crying, and walked into what looked like a big movie theater with the lights on. i saw people i knew and people i didn’t, dispersed throughout the theater. i noticed my roommate katlyn in a black and white patterned dress, and i realized that i was wearing the same dress as her (in real life, she didn’t know michael, but she and i do both own that same dress). i went over and sat next to her, and observed that the girl next to her was wearing our same dress as well. looking around the theater, i saw that everyone was separated into little groups of people wearing the same outfits. and then reagan, michael’s roommate, and her mom got up, shut the door to the theater, and started a slideshow on the big screen with all these funny things about michael and hilarious pictures of him. everyone started laughing a lot, but for some reason, it seemed disrespectful to me. no one seemed sad anymore. and suddenly, michael came through the door of the theater, and everyone started hugging him and crying tears of joy. and he was laughing with joy, saying, “i didn’t die today!” and i hugged him.
and that was it.
when i woke up, i was happy, and for some reason, even after i realized that it was just a dream, i still felt okay, like i had come to terms with his death.
i went to the viewing and funeral with my friend julee (she and michael were basically my two high school friends that i kept in touch with). it was very sad, but very nice and very meaningful.
michael was an english and biology double major – a lover of words and a lover of life. he was also a lover of the Word of Life. the priest gave a beautiful homily about this and the impact michael had on the world.
just like in my dream, there were slideshows commemorating michael’s life at both the viewing and the burial, and there were even quite a few funny pictures. from birth to age 21, we saw the happiness and prosperity that he was able to experience with friends and family throughout his short lifetime.
i also learned that he found out that he got into medical school the day before he died.
and similar to my dream, there was a large group of people wearing matching clothes – his fellow members of the university of texas men’s volleyball team, as well as many members of the women’s volleyball team – all dressed in their longhorn vball shirts to show their support. as michael’s sister put it, the two things that meant the most to him were his loved ones and his beloved texas volleyball team, so i know his family was so happy to see them there. also, the men in his family wore burnt orange ties and the pallbearers had orange corsages.
the thing that i loved, though, was the inside cover of the funeral program.
it had dated quotes that michael had written – the most heartfelt, beautiful, wise, selfless, and thoughtful words i have ever seen. he truly was a brilliant writer and an old soul.
here are just a few of them:
on his december 28th, 2011, his 21st and last birthday, he said, “The only way to be happy is to love. Unless you love, your life will flash by. These words are the perfect marriage of nature and grace. What is love, but the force of creation?”
on february 28th, he also wrote, “I have renewed appreciation for the responsibility I was put on this earth with and I’m truly starting to respect myself for the first time in my life. Very soon, the lives of other people will literally be placed into my hands, and there’s now a whole lot more at stake than any inner turmoil I choose to be conscious of. I owe it to everything my father has built and worked for and I owe it to the condition of the community I will be a part of, to humbly love myself with a clear head.”
on june 18th, “I just want to help the people around me. If I can do that even half as much as my father has then I will be successful. But why stop at half? He wouldn’t want me to.”
and on july 11th, just two days before he passed away, he wrote, “Life is too precious to do anything but pour everything we have into the people we love…”
it leaves me speechless.
and then, below it, michael’s mom wrote a tear-jerking message that puts everything in perspective:
“You see my dear family and friends, Michael got it!!! Rejoice that God, our Lord and Savior knew this and he called this exquisite man home to live in Heaven in all the glory! He is in His presence and he is making Jesus laugh. What does it mean to be a Christian when the God you know and love takes your child you know and love? When he takes your child, your baby, your most precious beloved belonging? It means your child, your baby MADE IT TO HEAVEN BEFORE YOU DID! It means – this moment – this second your child, your baby, rests in the arms of our Lord, Jesus Christ! For the instant time ceases, God begins. Dear God I give my son to you, I trust you to love him more than I did. I commend him to you. Michael, your father, Nicholas, Ashley and I will be together with you again one day. Wrap your beautiful, loving spirit around us and let us know everyday you are with us. We just love you so very, very much. -’Momsy’”
she couldn’t have said it better. what an extraordinary young man he was, and how thankful i am to have gotten to know him.
i have hope and faith that i will one day see him again.