Guest Post by Robyn, in memory of her former Miami Beach friend and colleague, Susan Brown Michelmore.
Today is your birthday. I wish I could call you up and invite you to meet me at the bar on Collins Avenue for a drink and a bite to eat. I’d tell you to bring your husband, Bill, if he wasn’t off traveling. We would sit at the corner of the bar for a few hours and then head back over to your apartment so you could get high… we would keep drinking, acting like we didn’t have a care in the world. Those were the days. It was the 80s and we were living the good life just a block from the ocean. But now those days are gone, and so are you.
Even though we didn’t keep in touch after we both left Miami, I thought of you every now and then. I knew that if we reconnected, we would pick up our friendship where we left off. We would swap stories of how our lives turned out. We would reminisce about the stresses of working for those two “crazy” guys, and how the “dance of happiness” made those unbearable workdays bearable.
With you gone, that catch-up call will never happen. Instead, I have no choice but to rely on writing this letter to catch up. Isn’t that what Dr. Phil would advise me to do? Write a letter about what I would say.
I was saddened when I read that you died. I found Bill’s blog on the internet and read through many of the posts he wrote about your life together, how depressed he was after losing you, and how much he loved you. It broke my heart to know he was hurting so badly, but I was happy to know you two were together until the end.
I sent him a note with my condolences. It wasn’t long before he responded. He seemed genuinely “happy” to hear from me. We spent hours talking about his feelings and I listened intently as he shared stories about your life together. I knew he was grieving and needed a friend. Night after night I’d listen as he talked. I figured it wouldn’t be long before he would start moving on. He often admitted that he knew that is what you’d want him to do. Quite honestly, though, he was worried about what you were experiencing after you died. Were you in heaven? Or were you nowhere? The one thing that gave him hope that you were indeed in heaven was your Catholic faith, even though he doesn’t share your belief.
Months went by but Bill never did seem to get to the next stage of the grieving process. His posts continued to center around you. You were his soul mate, the love of his life.
I was thinking what you would want for your birthday if you could have anything? So I asked myself: What was it that you loved so much on earth that you don’t have in heaven? Of course. You loved Bill. You always loved him no matter what. You loved him when he wasn’t perfect as he loved you when you weren’t perfect. I guess that’s one of the things that made you so right for each other. That leads me to the perfect gift. For you to one day be reunited in heaven with Bill. Yeah, that’s it. I think I can help make that happen. I’m going to continue to pray that Bill finds God. That he lives his life according to God’s Plan. And that today, your birthday, be the first day since you died that he starts living again. I know that would make you happy. Yes, that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure you and Bill are reunited in heaven.
Have a Happy Birthday, my old friend. I’m sorry we never kept in touch, but I know you know I’m thinking of you today!