Over the very difficult past couple weeks, I have tried on a few occasions to sit down and write a blog entry to help calm myself. The problem has been that my state of mind has been somewhere between speechless, confused, scattered and too tired to write. I decided that tonight was the night to put it all down in writing. However, I need to warn everyone–my thoughts in this entry may flicker through very quickly like light from a strobe. (I wouldn’t want anyone having a seizure due to my rapidly-changing stream of consciousness writing tonight…)
The best place to start is here: the past two weeks have been very difficult. My initial thought was to say that they sucked–and in a way they did–but I think “sucked” oversimplifies things. Over the past couple weeks, I’ve experienced hockey tryouts without Micah, a wonderful year-end concert by Micah’s choir with two songs dedicated to him, lots of memories and reminders of how much I miss Micah, and finally this weekend, roller hockey State Finals without Micah and our first Mother’s Day without him. Even tonight at our grief group, just looking for a couple videos of Micah doing his best Frankie Valli impersonation with his friends and teammates last November in Chicago brought me to tears. Lots of reminders condensed into two solid weeks has led to sleeplessness, difficulty concentrating, and finding myself suddenly in tears for no immediate reason…
As I decided to continue serving on the CVHS Choir Booster Executive Board, even into next school year, as the secretary, one of my duties has been to put together the choir concert programs. Last Monday, Matt Flora, CVHS’s fantastic choir director, emailed me the information I would need to put the program together. I really need to learn that anything coming from friends, former teachers (former teachers that are friends like Matt), or unknown senders all need to be treated like NSFW documents right now. Not having learned that yet, I opened up the email and saw the dedications to Micah. The rest of the day was lost behind a veil of tears. I was sad, sure, but I was so incredibly touched by Matt and the choir’s choices. In my condition that morning, I decided to just go ahead and work on the program for a few minutes. I knew the first thing I needed to do was to find good pictures of Micah and Keli, a young choir student that had graduated last May and was pursuing music as a career–before a driver veered into her lane one morning a couple months ago, causing a head-on collision that took her life. The choir dedicated two songs to Micah (Seasons of Love from Rent and an amazing Guiseppi Verdi opera piece) and two to Keli. Since the choir was not doing their traditional after-concert fundraiser at the local ice cream shoppe, I decided that we needed to replace those graphics with a dedication to Micah and Keli.
Before the concert night arrived, we made another attempt to do something for Micah. We had tickets for Wednesday night’s Pentatonix concert at the Comerica Theatre in Phoenix. Pentatonix was one of Micah’s favorite musical acts. Pentatonix turned his comments from, “Dad, all the music at the Winter concert has Jesus lyrics!” to non-stop listening to Christmas carols as performed by Pentatonix. It was contagious–before winter break arrived, he had the whole family listening–voluntarily–to Pentatonix. It wasn’t a huge stretch for me–I shared my love of the group The Nylons with Micah. I don’t think he was impressed. He thought Pentatonix was all that, the bag of chips, and another bag of chips–and dip. Micah would have loved the concert–even joining us to somewhat politely heckle the opening, opening act, “AJ”–a young man that looked like he was performing a solo audition to be in the Backstreet Boys. It was another evening of being too keenly reminded how much we missed Micah…
Thursday night was next–concert night. I arrived early and took some pictures of the kids rehearsing for the concert before setting up to video record the concert itself. I’m still astonished that I was able to stay on my feet the whole evening shooting video. The emotions were overwhelming when Advanced Vocal took the stage for their sound check–leaving microphone 19 on it’s stand…
Not just on its stand, but still wired up to the sound board, tuned up as though Micah would grab that mic to perform. Completing their mic check, they launched into a beautiful rendition of Seasons of Love. Micah absolutely loved Rent. Our rabbi used the first verse from Seasons of Love in Micah’s eulogy. The rest of the evening was a blur of emotion, tears, and loss. (Video of the two songs dedicated to Micah is on my Facebook page–not enough bandwidth here on my free account to share those.)
I spent Friday evening, all day Saturday and most of the day Sunday at Barney’s Family Sports Complex in Queen Creek scorekeeping and announcing the IHAAZ (Inline Hockey Association of Arizona) State Finals. I knew this would be the crescendo of my emotional tidal wave–but until it actually hit… I had been told a couple weeks ago that my friends on the IHAAZ Executive Board had decided to rename the State Finals Outstanding Goalie Award in honor of Micah. Again–until I actually saw it…
All choked up from the start. Micah and I occasionally talked about how cool it would be for other kids to wear his number some day–the allure of, well, not really fame, but the level of respect that it would mean to have kids want to wear a number because Micah wore it. Not that I think Micah was afraid of the fame and fortune to go with that respect, but he was fascinated by the idea that some day kids would want to be like Micah. Still, even when he had kids openly watching him, talking about how they wanted to emulate the way he played, he seemed oblivious. I think younger goalies that knew him and saw him play just saw him as Micah–that really nice kid that played great in net.
Cynthia and I were talking tonight about how we thought there were very few kids that actually disliked Micah. Very few adults either, save a few math teachers he had problems with. The negative parts of Micah’s persona were apparently just saved for us at home–away from home, he was as charming as we knew he could be. We kind of knew that he had an impact on other kids he met and befriended, but not until after he passed did the full extent of that impact become clear. Micah was a special kid to everyone that knew him, and he is very obviously missed by all of us.
The conversations over the weekend–some directly to me, some just within my earshot–about how they remember their kids being as small as those 8u (6-7-8 year olds) or 10u (9-10 year olds) players, about how important good goaltending was, occasionally about how Micah was missed on the rink–they tore at my heart. Watching younger goalies play over the weekend and thinking about how well they played, how much they did this or that just like Micah, it made me want him with me even more.
Last year, I also handled the bulk of the scorekeeping and announcing for State Finals. Micah came with me on Friday and Saturday. He watched the games that his team didn’t play in, sure, but he just wanted to sit with me the whole time. He was friendly with the other kids, but at the tournament he just wanted to sit on the chair or stool next to me, talk to me between announcement, eat snacks from my stash, and just spend the time with me. I can still smell the hockey on him…see him sitting there with his leg pads on, smiling at me as he would reach into the bag for a snack, talking about whatever odd subject was on his mind. I don’t know how many times this weekend, sitting alone in the booth, I looked over at the empty stool hoping to see Micah sitting there, wishing I could tease him about eating all my snacks up, wanting to hear his thoughts about the presidential election, or racism, or sexism, or his favorite video games, or his excitement about the VR glasses I was ordering. All that I saw most of this weekend was an empty stool.
By Sunday afternoon–our first Mother’s Day without Micah–I was a complete wreck, and after a phone call from home confirmed that my family was a wreck as well, I needed to leave. It was too much. I needed to be home with my family, and they needed me there.
I had hoped that, over time, the memories would be more cheerful and less painful. Maybe some day that will be true. Right now, I still feel his loss–every time I drive near a rink, every time I hear a Frankie Valli song, every time I think about seeing a musical. I sit and listen to Hamilton–maybe history had its eyes on Micah. He definitely had a million things to do, and we were waiting to see them. I fall apart every time I hear Alexander Hamilton weeping over the death of his 19-year old son Philip. I feel his loss, as his loss is my loss.
Good night Micah. I love you and miss you more than words can say.