Guest blogger: One of Michelle’s besties, Maddy Baldrick.

It was 5th grade, Michelle came home from 1st day of school in Mrs. Huber’s class. She said that Maddy came up to her and asked if she wanted to be besties. In true Michelle fashion, she said, “Sure!” I’m personally so glad Maddy did that that day because our family came to love Mads as our own. The collage photo posted below was given to Michelle by Mads for her 15th birthday. Also in true Michelle fashion, she nagged her Daddy until he hung it in her bedroom 😉 XO Here’s Mads.

Every person that you meet in life contributes to who you are as a person. Some contribute big, some contribute small; and some even find a way into that special place in your heart. One of those special people for me is, Michelle Chalk. Michelle and I met at Johnson Elementary School. I remember her always being different, but in a very positive way. She was such a great listener. The type of listener that you knew really heard what everyone had to say. She was always kind to others and lit up every room she walked into. I am blessed to have known her and she has inspired me just as she has inspired so many others by simply treating them with love and respect. Michelle Chalk had such a pure and innocent heart and she is now a part of mine forever.

Although August 1, 2017 will forever be remembered as one of the worst days of my life, August 2, 2017 will also be a day that I will never forget. That morning I went to meet with the grief counselors at Highlands High School. The counselors suggested that all of the kids in attendance go out and try to have fun. “The Group” (as we now refer to ourselves as) went to Newport on the Levee to hang out and try to keep our minds occupied with things other than what had happened less than 24 hours earlier. Up until that day, I would have considered the people I was with acquaintances. I was pretty good friends with a couple of them, but we all had one mutual friend, Michelle Chalk. That day, it didn’t matter if we were friends or not because we were all there for the same reason. We all had a special connection with Michelle and that is why the close friendships that were created that day came so easily and will last a very long time. That “group” was exactly what I needed at that moment in my life.

A couple days later, a girl from school had reached out to me and wanted to meet at Starbucks. She and I were not close friends, but I knew she was nice and we had had a couple classes together in the past. I am so glad that I agreed to meet with her because that meeting proved to be a life changing event for me. After the accident I was mad at God. I questioned Him and if He was a good God. That day at Starbucks, this girl, who I didn’t know all that well, said something that I will never forget. She talked about Heaven and how beautiful and perfect a place it is. This made me realize how selfish I was being for wanting Michelle down here with me. After our meeting at Starbucks, this girl invited me to Young Life. Young Life is a group of kids from school who meet a couple times a week to have fun, worship, and talk about God. I went and absolutely fell in love with it. It is a great group of people and they have led me in a direction that I needed to be led. I would not be the person I am today without the Young Life community.

Not a day goes by where I don’t think about Michelle or what she would be doing if she were physically with us now. Her death was a wakeup call for me and for many others who were affected by it. I have learned three things this past year:

  1. We take things for granted way too much. We don’t tell the people we love the most how much we love them. You do not know when will be the last time you talk to or see someone. Be kind to everyone and do not hold grudges. It is not worth it!
  2. God is good! He is always here for us. God is present during the grief and the pain and He wants to be a big part of our lives.
  3. Fort Thomas is amazing! The way that this community rallied together after this tragic accident was simply incredible. Everyone was there for each other. Everyone had a shoulder to give and a shoulder to cry on. The amount of support that was given to those affected by Michelle’s death was truly inspirational. The bows (many of them still hanging) are a constant reminder of the beauty that Michelle exuded every day of her life.

Now my message to Michelle: Thank you for being my best friend. I know that you and the Big Guy are watching over me and more than likely laughing at the silly things that I do and say. I love you so very much and miss you more than I can express with words. #LiveFreeLikeMichelle

Lots of love,

Mads

Mads

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