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A Blue Crayon, and a Pink

May 3, 2011
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It’s early right now… or late, however you want to look at it.  But I can’t go to bed.  First of all, I forgot to put the sheets in the dryer, so I’ve got at least 55 more minutes of being up.  And second of all, I have something I can’t get off my mind.  I have had this lump in my throat that won’t go away, and my heart hurts.  And I want to tell you a story.

A longish time ago a new boy moved into my 4th grade class.  His name was Mike.  He told me he liked my braids.  I liked his smile.  We were fast friends.  He showed me how to double dutch.  He was sweet.  And for a 9 year old boy a total romantic.  That year among the many little gifts he left in my desk, he gave me a blue crayon and a pink, because they were my favorite colors.   As we grew up we shared a lot of the same interests.  We both liked music, and drama.  We were in the school plays together.  We took the same classes.  We weren’t best friends, but I always liked him.  Sometimes we liked each other more than others, we’d “go out”.  Which for my junior high self meant we didn’t talk to each other or look at each other when we thought the other was looking.  We couldn’t talk on the phone, because then my sisters and my mom would know.  And what could be worse, right?   But we would sit next to each other at lunch sometimes.  And I wore a ring he made for me out of a dollar bill.  Then to my complete embarrassment at the end of year assembly we won the “Cutest Couple in the 8th grade.”  I had to like, go up on the stage and accept my award in front of everyone and stuff.  But I wasn’t wearing that ring anymore.  Mike smiled at me anyway, that boy had a smile that could part the sea.  We were always friends.  He’d call me when he was in trouble.  I’d meet him somewhere to just talk.  I would have done anything for him, and I think he knew it.  I hope he did.

In highschool I would play the piano for him all the time when he sang at church.  Even if he asked me super last minute, I’d always say Yes. Mike had the most beautiful singing voice in the world.  Effortless, and magical.  He could tell amazing stories with that voice. It had such emotion, such power, and such amazing love.  Mike was also a great dancer, tall and strong and the best swing partner ever.  He would do all the fun stuff.  I mean, let’s face it… most highschool boys don’t dance at all.  But Mike knew lifts and flips and the twirls that no one else could do.  I felt like a real dancer (I’m not) as he flipped me upside down and inside out and around and around.  I loved to dance with him.

As we grew up we grew apart, as most young friends do.  He changed schools and had a new group of friends, and so did I.  But whenever I would see him he’d wrap me up in those big arms and pick me up off the ground in a bear hug.  I was always happy to see him, no matter the circumstances.  And I thought about him a lot.  I still do.  After we graduated from highschool we lost touch.  I went to college, got bored, moved to Russia for a while and then came home to finish school.  And then I met Scott, and we were engaged that same year.  Because I lived in Russia before I had a cellphone, or facebook and blogs and twitter and whatever-else-have-you, I had lost contact with most of my highschool friends.  I ran into Mike once, but we were both late for something and didn’t have more than a minute to talk.  But as I was making my list of friends to send announcements to, I put Mike up at the top.  I was sure I still knew his parents address, and I was sure they would get it to him.  And it was important to me that he had an announcement.  I got married at the end of 2003.

A few years went by.  I was crazy busy with a full time job and full time school and I fell into the newlywed trap of losing touch with ALL your single friends.  And then one day I ran into Mike’s little sister at the grocery store, pretty late at night.  I was happy to see her, and asked how Mike was doing.  She got this look on her face, and I knew something had happened.  Only all of a sudden I didn’t want to know what it was.  She gently told me that Mike had died unexpectedly at the end of April, 2004.  As she told me the story, I couldn’t hold back the tears.  She finished and I told her how sorry I was, and thanked her for telling me.  Then we went our separate ways.

I sobbed all the way home.  And I spent most of the night crying as well.  I dug through the old boxes and found pictures and notes and Valentines from elementary school that I had saved.  I had told Scott about Mike before, but I told him everything I could remember all over again.  I didn’t want to forget. Months later I found a note from him in my old set of scriptures, asking if I’d play the piano for him while he sang.  And I teared up all over again.

Mike was not the first person I’ve lost that I loved.  Nor was he the closest to me.  I don’t know why his life and the end of it has affected me the way it has.  But I am grateful for it.  The past few years, since Creamie was born, I’ve been thinking more about Mike’s mom.  And tonight, just a few days after the 7 year anniversary of his death, I can’t get them both out of my mind.

Tonight I laid down next to Creamie who woke up a few hours ago in tears. As I tried to snuggle her back into sleep I thought about life and love and loss.  And the power that all three have to change us and make us better, wiser, more sypathetic, more patient, more kind, more full of love for our fellowman.  We are here to help each other.  The experiences we can share with each other is what makes the hard parts of life or love or loss bearable.  And the sweet things we share is what takes some of the sting out of those hard parts.  And as I was laying down next to her warm little body I thought of Mike and his mom.  And how she must have snuggled him when he woke up crying in the night.  And how she would have sung his favorite songs, and that lump came to my throat, and my eyes filled up with tears, and I had to stop singing.

I thought about how unpredictable life is.  And how you never really know what is going to happen next, or how what just happened will affect what is to come.  I am grateful for my faith in God.  I truly believe he has a plan for me.  I don’t always know what it is, or understand why it happens the way it does, but I believe that all things will work together for my good in the end.  I believe that I will see those I’ve lost again, someday. But in the meantime, I will never forget how Mike has profoundly changed me. For the better.  There is a part of me that will never stop loving him. And as I lay in the dark listening to Creamie’s even breathing I thought again about all the good memories I have of Mike.  And some of the less than awesome ones, but mostly I thought about the good, the funny and the sweet.  I thought about that first year I knew him.  And I think I’ll always remember him as that nine year old boy, with a blue crayon and a pink.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. Jan Wiesenfeld permalink
    May 3, 2011 2:54 am

    I’m so happy that you knew Mike. We all need a Mike. I hope Creamie finds her Mike. Thank you for your story when I needed it.

  2. Josie permalink
    May 3, 2011 3:43 am

    I love you E and that was a wonderful bit of writing. I’m glad you had Mike. And, because I’m a mom too, I’m glad Mike had you.

  3. May 3, 2011 5:40 am

    I think this kind of semi-awareness that all these moments are fleeting makes life more precious. How lucky for you to be able to listen to your little one breathing–and to be able to treasure the sound.

  4. PomJob permalink
    May 3, 2011 6:16 am

    You just made me cry a little at work! Your story brings back memories of my sister’s brother-in-law. He died in a car accident at 24 and that someone so smart, talented, motivated, charismatic and loved died so suddenly continues to impact me. Sometimes it’s hard to see God’s bigger plan but there must be when good people are taken so early. This was a lovely story.

  5. Linsey permalink
    May 3, 2011 6:59 am

    wow. so sad and so beautiful. i’m crying at 8 in the morning…this is going to be a great day!

  6. Paige permalink
    May 3, 2011 7:03 am

    Thank you for this post. It truly was a wonderful piece. My dad has Parkinsons and dementia. He also is recovering from major abdominal surgery that has only exacerbated his symptoms. Life is tough right now. I havent been able to cry since November (and I’ve had ample opportunity) until this morning. Thank you for that. Yes, life is unpredictable. I thank God that He is there and is in control.

  7. May 3, 2011 7:19 am

    I had such mixed emotions when I read this post. I got it to my phone early in the morning and I wasn’t sure whether to cry or to be inspired to live life to the fullest. So i did both. You are a truly magnificent writer E and also an amazing person!

  8. Susan Coonan permalink
    May 3, 2011 7:58 am

    Thank you.

  9. May 3, 2011 8:00 am


    Thank you for sharing something so special. Knowing what we know about life and death makes it a little easier to bear, but losing someone we love is never easy. Hope you’re feeling better today.

    xo -El

  10. May 3, 2011 8:08 am

    What a great story! I’m fighting back the tears while at work, and have a huge lump in my throat. It’s wonderful to have those type of people in your life. Thank you for sharing.

  11. May 3, 2011 8:26 am

    What a beautiful story! May the moments and memories you shared with Mike make each and every day a little brighter for you…
    I’m so sorry for your loss,

  12. Michelle permalink
    May 3, 2011 9:08 am

    so sweet. thanks for this. i totally remember him, not as well as you, but was so sad to hear of his passing as well. keep your head up and love on that baby girl of yours.

  13. May 3, 2011 10:04 am

    Thanks for sharing. I’m glad we are friends.

  14. kirsten elkins permalink
    May 3, 2011 11:05 am

    thank you for that tender story/reflection. i have lost many friends, and they never leave my heart and memories. i too am grateful that this life is only the beginning, and as we live what we know to be right and true, with our faith fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ, we can all live together in a heaven too gorgeous for mortal minds to ponder. God bless all the Mikes, and my ilianas, and one day soon, we will be one.

  15. May 3, 2011 11:31 am

    This is beautiful. I’m so glad I knew Mike too, what a wonderful person.


  16. May 3, 2011 12:11 pm

    What a sad, sweet story. And, as someone mentioned, beautifully written. I’m so sorry that Mike passed, especially at such a young age.

  17. May 3, 2011 12:20 pm

    Thanks for sharing such a sweet, moving story. I marvel quite frequently at just how much the people we surround ourselves can impact our lives so much, for both good and bad. I’m so happy that Mike was such a bright light in your life.

  18. May 3, 2011 12:51 pm

    That is so sad to hear. How nice that your friendship went so far back. Hugs to you.

  19. May 3, 2011 1:00 pm

    Everyone has (or at least SHOULD HAVE) a Mike story. I do. And though its easy to just say, “Isn’t it nice that we’ll be able to see them again one day?” its hard for me to digest the fact that I can’t see that someone again for a long time. I hate death.

    But I LOVE life and I love that people get to meet each other and touch each other’s hearts. I pray every night that I won’t lose one of my babies and that they won’t ever lose me so that we can hold each other for our WHOLE LIVES and take on all the other hard stuff together. I need my babies. They need ME.

    Just as you need Creamy. 🙂
    I have tears in my eyes, dang it. I thought I could make it a day without crying this month.

  20. May 3, 2011 2:12 pm

    That was some beautiful writing. Thank you.

  21. Susan Twilley permalink
    May 3, 2011 2:34 pm

    What a big heart you have. Don’t you just know if you can move all of us here on earth that Mike is up there moving some people around to make space for you and yours. Thanks for your words and a good cry too.

  22. May 3, 2011 3:20 pm

    Wow. That’s all it took to send me right over the edge and into the ugly cry.

    Two girlfriends of mine are each getting divorces– both husbands with girlfriends, both husbands becoming physically aggressive with their wives, both husbands not wanting to be fathers any more, etc, etc, etc. One girlfriend went to court today to file papers, and the other just broke the news to me today that this has been going on… so this is the third time today that I’ve resorted to tears, which I hope will make me feel better and get back to some positive thinking.

    I love your friendship with Mike. My Mike is named Brice, and I’m lucky I still have him after 25 years.

    Thanks for the good cry.

  23. May 3, 2011 5:22 pm

    crying here!

    ♥ you E!

  24. Rebecca Snider permalink
    May 5, 2011 9:24 pm

    Hi Erika,
    This is Rebecca..I met you in the airport that one day and said you reminded me of my daughters….I appreciate your writing about your friend Mike….and about sweet little Creamy. You are a wonderful mom and aren’t we blessed to have such great love in our lives. Life changes in a moment….take every moment you can for those precious moments to lay next to creamy. 6 years ago I went to Wal-Mart and my wonderful Scott went on a bike ride with my son and never came home. He was hit and killed instantly by a drunk driver…I am grateful for the quiet moments memories in my life….and children are the best…I have 6. A few days after the accident I came across this EFY song…I have loved it ever since. I thought you too might like it:
    Much love to you and your wonderful family. Rebecca


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