december 2nd. i'm not even sure how to begin to describe the significance that this day will always have for me.
today my friend michael's birthday. although i know a lot of people and am surrounded by countless amazing friends, my list of close friends is a short one and michael is definitely on that list. we've known each other since middle school and lost touch after high school but we reconnected right around the i was getting ready to move back to seattle a year and a half ago. he is a big part of what made my move back to seattle so great in spite of all the uncertainty and uneasiness of what was a daunting transition. anyone that knows me knows that i'm capable of talking at length about nothing but when it comes to actually sharing the things that are close to my heart, there are very few that i've felt secure enough to trust so having a friend like michael is a blessing to say the least.
today is also the one-year anniversary of my cousin mike's passing. i can't believe it's already been a year -- it's still so fresh and so surreal. i was actually on my way to michael's birthday party last year when i got the call about my cousin mike. i've only recently gotten to the point where i can even share part of the story without breaking down in tears and honestly, even then i can only talk about it for a moment at a time. and though the loss i feel personally is huge, i know that a lot of my grief is tied to my heartache for his parents and his brother and sister. as much as my heart has been broken i know that theirs is broken that much more. and though it's painful to remember the hurt so acutely, i hope in some ways that i never forget the loss of him because i never want to forget him at all. it's not something i want to get over ever. his life, though tragically short, was one marked by a deep love of life and love of people so even if i can never extract my heartache from my memories of him, even if remembering will always be painful, he will always be worth remembering.
they never even met but to me the lives of mike and michael are forever inextricably linked. they're even linked by their names -- although i should note, my cousin was distinctly a mike and not a michael; like many other immigrant parents, my aunt and uncle didn't know about the American custom of informal shortened first names so the name on my cousin's birth certificate is in fact, mike.
there's a part of me that hates the dichotomy of this day because it feels like it should be either reverentially solemn for my cousin or joyous and celebratory for my friend -- one or the other and not both. but i also know that this forced juxtaposition is kind of gift as well. it's a reminder to appreciate both lives, to celebrate both lives, and [pardon the redundancy] it's simply a reminder to remember. like i said, i never want to forget my cousin mike so i'm thankful that as long as i have my friend michael, december 2nd will be a day to celebrate the life we have and a reminder not to take any life for granted.
so to mike and to michael - i love you both very much.