A piece of my heart died tonight when I received a message telling me Michael Higdon had died.
Like all news of that sort, I felt like I’d been punched square in the chest. He was immortal in my mind. Despite emphysema, despite that he was 71 years old, Michael would always be the man whose laughter permeates my soul. The man whose hugs could ease almost any pain, or exacerbate any joy. The man who showed up and loved my mother in beautiful ways that my father just couldn’t.
And now, he’s gone.
So as I try to process this, my mind reels at how comforting the thoughts of someone are—regardless of how long it’s been since you’ve spoken to them—just by knowing they’re out there in the world, and how devastating the knowledge is that they have ceased to exist. It’s a deep void; perhaps a reminder of how short our own lives are, and how “I’ll call him next Tuesday” turns into never, and how pathetically sad and silly that really is.
His birthday was November 10. I remember it every year, and think I should call. But as much as I love catching up, I truly hate talking on the phone. So I sent out my annual dose of silent good wishes and sincere love, and then . . . found out that there won’t be any more phone calls to make. Ever.
I am loathe to accept that this is that point in life where I realize that this is the future; saying goodbye to so many that I’ve loved, acknowledging how finite our lives really are. And once you’ve buried a parent, that reality becomes so cemented in your shattered being that regardless of what comes after that, you know you will bend, but you won’t break.
My highlight reel of Michael is filled with deep conversations, unconditional love, much laughter, Christmas mornings steeped in hilarious gifts and really bad coffee, and the way his eyes lit up as they crinkled at the corners before his entire face lit into a grin that would make you smile in an involuntary response, even if that was the absolute last thing you wanted to do. All tiny bits of a mere slice of this life shared with such an exquisite human.
When I question why the hell I was ever allowed to walk this earth, visions of Michael dance through my head. He loved me, and I loved him. He made me feel important and valued when I struggled do that for myself. He never doubted me, even when I doubted him. He greeted every day with a healthy dose of the “Good morning, world!” that was never my go-to emotion, no matter how sincerely he tried to show me the way.
I hope he and my mom are raising a glass and having a healthy and beautiful reunion, together with all the other elsewhere souls.
Ever grateful for you, DM. For always adoring Lady Sharron, through all of it. For never failing to be there for us. For so much incredible love and laughter. Rest in sweet peace, my friend.