10 February 2010
And We Are All Diminished
This is a picture from my niece Julie's wedding in Puerto Rico in August 2008. With the back of my head in this picture are Michael Murphy, and his girlfriend Virginia. In this photo, I'm sure we are all talking about some important issue, as noted by the emptiness of our glasses and the redness of our complexions.
I have known Michael Murphy since I was thirteen years old. He and his first wife, Paula, were friend of my sister Mary Ellen and her then boyfriend (now my brother-in-law) Patrick and he spent a lot of time at our house. When Mary Ellen and Patrick got married, Michael walked my mother down the aisle, and I remember her saying that she was glad it was Michael, because "if I had a son, I'd want him to be like Pat or Michael."
Throughout the rest of my life, Michael was as much a part of the family as any of my blood relations or in-laws. When he and his wife divorced, I felt awful. But Michael was one of those people who just moved on, not letting the bad things in life win. He ended up with two great kids who are now adults, Julia and Patrick. He met Virginia and they seemed to be the perfect couple. She "fit in" with the rest of us effortlessly, and became one of the family.
Did I spend a lot of time with Michael and Virginia? No, but I have not spent a lot of time with my family either, since we all live in different areas. But we all keep up with each other, and when we are together, it's FUN! We used to tease Michael, because he had a tendency to be really enthusiastic about things, saying they were "GREAT!" as only he could. I think I have mentioned here before that every summer when my they were all in Bethany Beach together, Michael and Virginia would stay for a few nights. When we/they would all go to dinner together, my brother-in-law would always tell the waitress that it was Michael's birthday, so they would bring out a cake. We would all sing "Happy Birthday" at the top of our lungs and a lot of the time, other people in the restaurant would join in. Oh, and by the way - Michael's actual birthday was in February, I think ...
So when my sister called me today - a snow day for both The Tim and I - to tell me that Michael had died last night, you can imagine the shock and disbelief I felt. Apparently, Michael had a heart attack at his home in Baltimore, and died in his own bed. His son found him after being worried that he wasn't answering the phone.
Once again, someone has been taken away well before their time. The idea that we won't see Michael again, or sing "Happy Birthday" this summer, or hear him say that something is "GREAT!" doesn't make sense. His daughter will now plan her wedding without her father, who was so excited about the whole thing. There will never be the opportunity to laugh at something (like the Mr. Bean movie) just because he is laughing so hard about it, whether or not it is funny.
Michael, I hope that heaven is GREAT! and that there are plenty of opportunities for a good laugh. We'll do what we can down here, and be happy that for whatever amount of time we had with you, but it won't be easy. Thanks for taking the time to be here and be part of the family. We love you.