Sweetness Follows

It never ceases to amaze me how some of the most influential people in my life are the ones who, at first glance, played a seemingly insignificant role in my journey. It does not matter that the amount of time we spent together was limited, for their impact was limitless. A few days ago, I remembered one such person whom I simply adored, on the 27th anniversary of his death. It is my honor and pleasure to tell this story. . .

I do not remember how I met Mike, but I think it may have been during my sophomore year in high school. He was slightly built, sweet, funny, and cute. I attended an all girls Catholic high school, while he was a year older than I was and attended an all boys Catholic high school just a few miles away. He was friends with some of my friends’ brothers and friends with a boyfriend of mine, and we got to know each other and would socialize at parties, dances, and sporting events. So, we were not best friends, but we were friends.

At one point, we both were at a basketball game watching my friends play, and we ended up sitting together by ourselves in the bleachers. We talked and watched the game, and it was nothing particularly special, or so I thought. At one point, I was lamenting about some guy who bruised my heart, and what was a seemingly throw away conversation became one that, for whatever reason, remains significant to me today. He listened patiently and sympathetically, as I poured my heart out about this recent heartache, before saying to me, “You are extraordinary, and God help the world, if you ever figure that out.”. I didn’t understand what he meant by that, so, I asked him to explain. Mike just smiled and said, “That’s for you to figure out.”. The conversation ended, but it was tucked away safely in my memories.

That conversation came back to me as I stood in front of his casket a year later clutching my best friend’s hand, trying to wrap my brain around the fact that Mike had been killed in a boating accident a few days earlier. This was not supposed to happen; he had just graduated high school the previous month, had just finished being grounded, had the entire summer, not to mention his whole life, ahead of him, was headed to college in the fall, and still needed to explain to me what it meant to be extraordinary. Yet, there I was looking down on him, waiting for him to open his eyes and flash that smile of his, but, of course, he did not. Mike was gone, but the memories remained.

Throughout the years, I have reflected on our talk and tried to figure out what it means to be extraordinary, and I sometimes still “talk” to Mike. Whenever I hear R.E.M.’s song, “Sweetness Follows”, I think of Mike, as I always have thought of him as being the sweetest soul. What I am about to share may convince some of you that the rumors of my insanity are well founded, but I believe what happened and hope you will keep an open mind and heart.

Last December, on the recommendation of a friend, I went to see a “messenger” in Bardstown, Kentucky. My friend had spoken highly of her and shared some incredible and moving stories about her sessions, and given the turmoil of last year, I wondered what she would tell me and decided to go. That session is worthy of its own blog, so, for now, I will only speak of the part that pertains to Mike. My interaction with the messenger lasted 30 minutes, but she blew me away in the first 30 seconds by what she knew about me specifically, without me saying a single word. It was an emotional and healing experience, and it made this skeptic a believer.

Toward the end of the session, the messenger paused and smiled, as she said, “There is the sweetest soul here.”. Instinctively, I knew it was Mike and began to cry, but I did not say anything. She continued by saying, “This is a Michael or Mike. He wants to know if he can approach you”. I nodded and smiled through my tears, and I went into the ugly cry when she said, “He says, ‘I’ve got your back, and I am not going to let you fall again. You really are so very extraordinary’, and she asked me, “Do you understand what he means, Love?” Indeed I did understand, Love.

A couple of weeks after this session, my former boyfriend who was friends with Mike, as well, was back in town for Christmas, and we spent some time together. During that time, he brought up Mike out of the blue, and he explained their special friendship to me and said he also still “talks” to Mike. The unexpected gift he gave me was when he shared with me some of the memories he had of Mike, and it meant the world to me when he told me that Mike loved me and really did believe I was extraordinary. I may never understand what Mike meant by his comments that he shared with me all those years ago, but I will keep trying to discover it in myself and in others.

That’s another story . . .

Categories: That's Another Story

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2 replies

  1. It’s amazing to me that a young man of his age had the wisdom, insight and words to express to you at that time. How lucky you were to have someone, a peer, who already “saw” you in your teenage years. Many are never really “seen” and some have their essence recognized by a special teacher, a parent, or a counselor and I wonder how many ever remember their observations or ever have it resosonate with them to become a treasured moment. I hardly know you and I observe that you are living “your extraordinary” and are probably on the brink of accepting it and will always be too humble to show it. Thanks for sharing your gift.


    • Vicki, what a lovely note to begin my day and to touch my heart, and I thank you for both reading this and for your beautiful observations. I am so glad that our paths have crossed, as I think we are more alike than we realized, not to mention I always enjoy genuine people like you. I have found “my happy”, although it goes into hiding from time to time, and I think figuring out being extraordinary is along those same lines. Being surrounded by extraordinary people, though, definitely makes the journey all the sweeter.


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