As I write this, it is Tuesday, July 31, 2018. Tomorrow will be the one-year anniversary of Michelle’s death. Hard to believe it has been a year already. It may be the end of “The Year of Firsts”, but our grief goes on. Michelle died on Tuesday, August 1, 2017, and our mind goes to the events of that day, the day before, and the weekend before. What were the last things we did together?
Highlands had a back to school day on Saturday, July 29, 2017, and this included school pictures for the high school Students. That Life Touch photo of Michelle was a mere three days before her death. She wasted no time organizing her computer and backpack in anticipation for her 1st day of high school. As a family, we went to BW3 for lunch; we have not been back since.
On the night of Monday, July 31, 2017, I remember picking Michelle up from Dance Express. She was full of life. We always talked in the car. She was both expressive and a great listener. When we got home, I made her dinner and she went upstairs to talk to Patty and get a shower.
On the morning of Tuesday, August 1, 2017, I went into work and I think Michelle was asleep on the couch. It was a frequent habit of hers during the summer to fall asleep on the couch while watching TV. The beginning of an ordinary day that would end with a pivot, changing our lives forever.
When I came home from work, I cooked dinner for Thomas and Robert and then talked to Patty. She informed me that Michelle was at a friend’s house and would call when she was ready to come home. I remember being reclined on the bed next to Patty, watching TV with my phone on my chest waiting for Michelle’s call. Around 7pm Robert came into the room and said there was a police officer at the door wanting to talk to us.
Recalling where we were and what we were doing is a communal experience. We have heard multiple people share their stories with us. It moves us to know that Michelle mattered to so many people. As her parents, we always thought she was special, but we are her parents and naturally biased. It was on Wednesday, August 2, 2017 when we realized we were not grieving alone. The love and support of the community was with us, and has been with us the whole time.
Tuesday, August 1, 2017 will forever be a pivot in our lives. It is a moment in time where we look backward to remember and celebrate the wonderful life that Michelle lived. It is a moment in time where we move forward with hollow realization of Michelle’s absence. I often imagine her spirit with God in heaven. She had many dreams that went unfulfilled. Michelle never graduated high school or college, but she graduated life. I have never encountered a soul that was more pure, full of love and kindness. I imagine her serving God in heaven, praying for us all.
The last family picture was a selfie taken outside Saint Francis by the Sea Church, during our family vacation to Hilton Head Island. It used to be an annual destination for our family, now it contains too many haunting memories.