I miss you, Mike

Michael VanBeaclre: his name will always be remembered.  He holds that special place in my heart that I go to nearly every day to visit and say hello to my friend.  It seems like April 16, 2002 was just yesterday. I remember it almost perfectly; it was Mike’s birthday and I spent my time as usual that day, only to come home and find I would never see Mike again.

My phone rang at about 11:30 that night from my best friend Ashley.  I was excited to talk to her since it had been a few days since we had actually had a nice talk.  I picked up the phone and found that she was crying hysterically.  I had just figured she was upset about her boyfriend again, so I wasn’t too worried at this point.  When I finally calmed her down enough to speak, her soft voice cracked as she asked me, “Did you hear what happened to Mike?”  Immediately my heart dropped to my stomach, my hands became cold and clammy.  I quickly muttered, “NO, what?”  And before I could even begin to think what she might say, she busted out in tears again and cried, “He’s dead!”

Somehow between the time she said that to the time I could respond, I found myself falling to the floor of my room with tears welded up in my eyes. My heart was racing, but yet it felt like it was being pulled from my chest at the same time.  My face went pale and my arms started to tremble.  My mind began to ache as I tried to think of what happened and why.

Ashley went on to explain that Mike wanted to test drive her boyfriend’s motorcycle.  It’s weird because I can even remember Mike asking Tyler just last weekend if he could take the bike for a spin.  Tyler would always tell him no because he didn’t have the proper license or knowledge to drive.  But, being that it was Mike’s birthday, Tyler let him take it for a ride.  He had promised Tyler to only take it down the block, but that’s all it took for something tragic to happen.

Mike and I grew up together attending the same grade school, middle school and high school.  He was a bully to the girls in grade school, but he always had a sense of humor that made all the girls laugh anyways. Plus, he was one of the cutest guys in our school.  One trait Mike had that will never be forgotten is his smile.  He had a big smile with big white teeth that he always showed.  I can’t remember him ever frowning about anything.

We grew apart in middle school and in high school, but just weeks before his death, something changed. Mike and I shared a lot of the same friends during our senior year and just the past weekend before he died, we spent our whole weekend hanging out with a big group of us.  It was just a blessing that I shared one last weekend with Mike before he passed away.  It was great talking to him and being friends all over again. Although it was a short time to rekindle our friendship, it was long enough for Mike to leave an impression on my heart.

My senior year was never the same after his death.  Every time I went to English class, his seat was empty and there was an absence of laughter.  We lost conference in tennis because Mike was our number one player and the team struggled to overcome his death.  However, most of all, the senior class just missed a good friend who was supposed to graduate with us in less than a month.

Finally the day came where we had to say goodbye to Mike, it was his funeral.  I walked in the large church to find every pew full and every eye filled with tears.  I looked up towards the ceiling to find a slide show of Mike’s life. It killed me to see all those pictures knowing his life was over.  The funeral started and his mom, his brother, his tennis team, and his “clan” of best friends all stood before us telling all the funny stories and memories about Mike and his life.  He planned to join the Marines after he graduated and his recruiting officer and friends came dressed in full uniform to honor Mike’s decision and say farewell to a good friend and a good Marine he would have become.

I will never forget Mike and the lesson he taught each of us.  We learned the value of friendship, humor and most of all, life.  He showed us to take life and make the best of it and to always keep your head high and never give up.  He showed us to go for our dreams and always remember to laugh once in a while because life tries to pull you down and it’s up to you to keep on going even when it gets rough.  Mike was a friend, a Marine, and someone I will always look up to and admire forever.  Michael VanBeaclre’s name will always hold that spot in my heart and he will never be forgotten.