Michelle was my best friend and sister. Her sense of humor was electric and friendship invaluable. I know Michelle’s calling was service to others. It would be difficult quantify her impact. Easy to speak to her devotion improving the quality of lives. She was an advocate for the most vulnerable ......and made us all proud.
Her battle with cancer impacted me deeply and has caused reflection in my life. I know what it means to be blessed and feel it is time to pay that forward.
I proposed to Michelle on December 21, 2015. It was freezing cold. We went to Michael’s in Newburyport for lunch. One of her favorite places. After lunch I asked her out to the deck where she loved to watch the river flow by. It was going to happen there. The knee thing and all. I checked my pocket for the ring while I tried to open the door to the deck. I smashed my face on the door, and she laughed. The door was locked. The sign said, “closed for the winter”. Damn! So, we drove to the cottage to check it out. Plan B, propose on the beach. We where out on the back porch. “Honey, lets take a walk on the beach”. “Are you f…ing crazy, it’s freezing. I’m going back to the car”! Damn! On the way home she said, “Let’s go to The Grill for a beer”. The place was crowded. No seats at the bar. So, at the back of the bar at The Grill Next Door we ordered our favorite IPA’s, and I told her I love her, and wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. No knee thing. She said “yes”. Smartest thing I ever did in my life. Best years of my life. Miss you M. Love you wildly!
My mom is the strongest person I have ever known. My rock, my role model, my friend, she stood by me every day and inspired me to always be better. She taught me how to live, how to laugh, how to love, how to cry, and most importantly how to not take anything in life for granted. The world is better for my mom being a part of it, and we all feel the weight of her loss. An advocate for the most vulnerable and a mom of two, she was always putting others before herself. She was the best grocery shopper (always hooked up the best snacks) the greatest cook, and the greatest about everything else, although was not the best at taking care of plants or picking out pets (if you ever met DJ, you understand). She always believed better days were ahead and encouraged both my brother and I to live each day with purpose and to find what truly makes us happy in life. My days will never be the same without her in them but I will always carry her lessons with me for the rest of my life, and I know I still have her watching my every move ready to give me a hug when I need it and a slap when I deserve it. Love and miss you so much, mama.
Not all superheros wear capes. My Mother shopped at Marshalls, they don’t have capes. She had always been a tremendous role model, and caregiver for me and my brother. The sacrifices she made so we were never late to school, always on time for practice, and always full-bellied can never be repaid. I could have spent the rest of my life trying to get even, but the scale would forever be lopsided. My mom was the toughest woman on the planet, and she never let anything stand in her way. I can still remember some summer nights way back when I would be up watching T.V. at 4am, and I would hear her coming down the stairs to go to the gym... who does that? She loved the grind of running, working out, and getting better. Her work-ethic has shaped mine today, and I would not be nearly where I am without the gritty spirit she passed on. A woman who worked with kids from broken homes, she was doing the work of someone built differently. That is not a job for everyone, and at times was very stressful. But my mom being my mom never let that slow her down. Her mission was to help others, and that's what she did. She was the best mother I could have ever wanted, and I hope my kids are lucky enough to grow up with a mom like that someday. My heart shattered into millions of pieces that day, and will forever have a hole the size of her love. The human condition will never allow us to understand tragedies like this, but we cope through the love of others and the ability to make a difference. That's the message I leave you, we can all make a difference. My Mother knew how to do that, and she did it for her career everyday. Don't waste your time, spend it with those you love. Time is the single most valuable thing there is.
From the earliest moments of her life, Michelle was fiercely independent. The other wonderful qualities of her character evolved from this core attribute. She was caring, loving, courageous, strongly motivated and loyal. We were blessed to witness all of this develop in her. And most of all, with everything she went through, she always had a beautiful smile. She loved her family, her friends, and, of course, had a more than special relationship with her greatest legacy - Jon and Ryan. We are left with fantastic memories which help ease the pain of her leaving all of us way too soon. We are grateful that we were able to witness every moment of her life.
If you knew Michelle, you knew that her happy place was with her feet in the sand and the ocean in her view. I was blessed to be able to experience three summers with her on Salisbury Beach, and have more memories than I can count that make me giggle out loud. We swam (not often), we drank wine (often), we grilled chicken and steak, we chased dogs off the kitchen table, and we snuggled around the fireball with everyone we could gather. These moments seemed so small when we shared them, but have shaped my life in a way that make makes me grateful to her in a big way. There’s something incredibly relaxing and beautiful about gathering with your loved ones just to enjoy the sun and the sand and giggling your head off.
Michelle was my sister, my friend, sometimes my teacher and my greatest ally. She is by far the strongest person I have ever met. She faced every challenge with a steadfast resolve. An incredible mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend rolled up into a beautiful spirit that shone so brightly it couldn't ever possibly be extinguished. She touched so many lives in her personal and professional life and I had the privilege of witnessing it all. I miss her with every fiber of my being.
I don't want to have to write about who Michelle was or what she meant to me...I instead choose to write who she still is to me. Even though I don't get to see her every day, Michelle is still a part of my every day. Michelle is in my sunrise in the morning and in the stars that I look up to at night. She is the wind that I feel on my face when I'm running and the face in a picture I look at when I need to smile. She's the dragonfly that comes around to let me know she is still here. Even though I don't get to hear her voice she is still who I talk to and who answers me when I need "mom" advice because all I have to do is look at her boys to know what she is saying I should do. If I'm at work and question how to handle a case I consider what Michelle would have done. Michelle will forever impact my life because she brought out the best in me and so many others. Her infectious smile, kindness, toughness, generosity and love for others is what I carry with me everyday in hopes of sharing it with others....
Michelle and I met freshman year in high school and for 37 years (wow) have remained the closest of friends. There are not many memories or life events that did not include us both. Proms, graduations, relationships, weddings, kids, the beach, and many other moments in our lives that we have experienced together. If I had to choose one part or our journey that has had the most profound impact, it would be our boys. Many conversations have stated with either of us saying “ I am not getting good housekeeping mother of the year again!” But the truth is Michelle was an amazing mom and I am so grateful that my sons got to experience her selflessness. The greatest gift is that our relationship will forever carry on through the four of them.
Michelle is a close friend who I miss terribly. Some of the best times were running races together and of course the best part was the beer afterwards. The Irish Rover series was one of her favorites. She was an accomplished runner who even ran ½ and full marathons. She was faster than I was but there was always the time I enjoyed at the after party with her and races will not be the same without her. The running was the one thing she loved to do and couldn’t with her 2nd fight with cancer. Though I miss her I am sure she can do all the running she wants now. I will be thinking of her on my runs and hope she will be running alongside, But most likely ahead of me!
I could write a book about the kind of person my Aunt was. She always put 115% into everything she did. At the same time, she did it without breaking a sweat. She was effortless. She made everything look so easy, like it came naturally to her (except for taking a photo that wasn’t blurry). When I was a little girl, I wanted to be just like her. As an adult, I want to be just like her. She was the kind of person that everyone should aspire to be. She had an incredible sense of humor, and this personality that made everyone want to be around her. Her passion for helping those less fortunate was inspiring. To sum it up, she was an amazing woman, and there won’t be another one like her.