It was early one morning, Nov. 1st, 1990, and my husband Tom and I were getting ready for work. It was aroun 8 am, and the phone rang. We had healthy parents and grandparents, and young siblings and friends. We had been married just over a year, and life was good. Tom got the phone, and I heard him say the name Cindy. It sounded like panic in his voice, but I was in the bathroom, putting on my makeup. I wondered why she was calling early, and deduced that it couldn't be good. Cindy and Mike had been dating longer than Tom and I, and their baby Courtney was about 6 months old. Mike had a job at a local dairy, and things were looking up for them. In the 5 seconds it took me to get from the bathroom to the living room, I knew this was bad news. Mike had been in a car accident.
Tom was crying. I had never seen him cry before. I heard him say, Mike's dead?!" with total disbelief. I was behind him, touching his shoulder and couldn't get those words to make sense in my head. What? Last night was Halloween, he can't be dead. That was the logic inside my shocked and bewildered brain. Tom hung up with Cindy and he told me the details.
I guess Mike had been out at the local bar, and he called home and said he'd bring home a pizza. This was late, and I'm sure Courtney was in bed. He wasn't far from home, and there was some fog in the area. The intersection he drove through had blinking red lights one way, and blinking yellow lights the other. We're not sure who ran the light, but, he was t-boned by another car, driving home late, too. His car ran into the telephone pole and he was dead on impact. This was around 1 a.m.
Now, before I tell more of this story, let me go back. This group of friends had endured heartbreak several years earlier, before I was dating my husband. Tom had gotten a phone call at his job, one July afternoon, that his friend Ron had died in a drunk driving accident. Ron was Mike's brother, and only sibling. It was early in the morning, his friend was driving and it was a one car accident. They had invited my huband to go with them. He said no. He was working on a car and wanted to finish it.
I have been told, that Mike was never the same without his brother. The night I was to meet this Mike M. person, he didnt' show up at Bob's house. I found it odd that I was supposed to meet him, and he wasn't there. He showed up hours later, and had been at a bar, playing pool for money and almost got in a fight. Then he went to the cemetary where his brother was, and stole some flags and the marker MM, for the section of his brother's plot. He was upset, almost wild, but was polite to me. From then on, he always greeted me with a hug, a big smile, and "How you doing, Kathy?"
Needless to say, he drank in excess. I'm sure it was to dull the pain. He was always drinking, as was most of Tom's friends, and it was always a party with Mike around. He over spent, over drank and just went over board with life. He was a live wire, and had more energy than the average person. Even more than my husband, and I didn't think that was possible. He always wanted to make sure everyone had a drink. Some nights I lied that I had rum in my diet Coke, because I didn't want any more to drink.
Tom and I went to work that day, and I'm not sure how I functioned. I had started a new job, waitressing, and I was still in training. I finally got mad at Mike. How could he do this to Cindy, Courtney, and all his friends? Then I thought of his poor mother. His dad wasn't in their life for very long and she raised these boys by herself. Didn't he learn anything from his brother's death? Didn't he want more for himself? How could he drink and drive?
The funeral was awful. The friends were lost without Mike. Everyone vowed never to drink and drive again. We made a huge collage of photos that my husband and I had taken. Some pictures were inappropriate to put on display, so we had an ablum people could look at, too. There were many tears and many memories and laughter. After the funeral, his mom stopped the casket, kissed it, and left a huge red lipstick print on it and ran from the place sobbing. I can still hear her.
It's been almost 18 years that he's been gone. His daughter is in high school and she is the spitting image of him. One Cindy has to live with everyday. She's tall and skinny like him, she has his big brown eyes and infectious smile. We don't keep in touch with Cindy that much, but we saw her 2 years ago at Bob's funeral.
We tell the story to our boys every year. When Novemeber 1st comes now, I feel like I'm forgetting something. Someone's birthday? No. Then, it'll hit me. Mike died today. Poor Mike.
We started teling Mike's story to our boys early. Maybe too early. Maybe not. We have a picture of Tom and I with Mike, on New Year's Eve, the year we got married. One of the boys asked who he was, and the story was told. We constantly harp on them not to drink and drive. They are only 14 and 11, but, I think Mike has mad a huge impact on them. And they have never even met him.