Mourning, Healing and Remembering

Steven Gardner writes:

Sunday was one of those days you really hope you never have to face, but for a day like that it couldn’t have been any better.

Michael Pitcher’s death last week affected a lot of people I’m close with. People who are genuinely part of communities have the benefit of having others to hold on to when the things that happen seem to make no sense. There’s been a lot of holding on to each other since last Monday.

Michael and I were more acquaintances than friends. We had each been in the other’s home, but I can’t say I really knew him. I can say I admired him, mostly for what you see in the picture here. Despite our passing and brief relationship, it saddens me to know that I won’t see him again. Not around here, anyway.

On Sunday I went to church and it was a service in which many people who knew Mike well were able to stand up and share stories about him, about how he influenced them.

His father, Frank Pitcher, spoke. I would guess Frank has had multiple opportunities to try to provide comfort to people who are grieving, and is among those grieving now. As one who has seen it and been through it before himself, he understands it. Understanding does little to comfort, though. It hurts.

Then there is Michelle, who came along into Michael’s life at a time when he was experiencing the very same thing she is now. Michael’s first wife lost her life suddenly. The one person who could probably help us, and especially Michelle, the most, the one who could extend his arm around us and offer comfort like no one else could, the one who could say, “I’ve been there” is the one who can’t be here to do that at all.

And yet a legacy goes on.

Last Monday I stayed home from work during the day because my wife was ill and needed to rest. I did go to work that night to cover chicken decriminalization and to make cops calls. Before I went in Josh Farley called me and asked that I follow up on an accident in CK, where a man fell from a tree and died. Later that night I read the press release, which included no name. I wrote a brief piece for the paper and went home as quickly as I could.

I stayed home the next day as well, except to taxi the children while my wife continued to rest. As I was putting shoes on my youngest, Diana came to the door and asked if I’d heard about Michael Pitcher. I hadn’t, I said. He died, she told me. That was the first moment it occurred to me that the man I’d written about the night before could be Michael.

Seeing someone just 30, so full of hope and goals and dreams, pass from this life to the next so quickly and unexpectedly has been transformational. I want to be a better father. I’ve always wanted to be a great dad, but something about Micheal’s passing spurred me to renew my commitment to my children and to Diana. I want there to be more pictures of me and my kids the way Michael is seen here, not because I want to be remembered that way, but because I want to be that way.

We made a start last week. The one benefit of Diana being sick and me staying home is my youngest and I bonded like we seldom had before. We played. We went on rides. We read together. It is clear the difference it has made on him. It’s more clear to me what it’s done for me. I thought of Michael a lot while it was happening. I wish he was here so I could tell him, but I have faith that he knows.

3 thoughts on “Mourning, Healing and Remembering

  1. I didn’t know Michael, but our extended families are connected. I had been heartbroken a few years ago to hear of the loss of his first wife. Hearing of his passing last week has had a real effect on me too. I’ve been praying for his family. I’ve been thinking about death and life. I’ve been thinking about how much I want to rise above the little things that I allow to keep mediocrity in my life. I know I can do better and be better — with a little grace and with more effort on my part. I have begun asking for the grace and putting in the effort.

  2. This has had the same impact on my family as well. My husband and I have scheduled in weekly dates with each other and monthly dates with our children. We’ve made a renewed effort to realize the sweet blessings of life and that we need to appreciate our family now and stop thinking of tomorrow. Lovely article.

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