I met Mike at my first support group meeting. Yet, I had lived next door to him when I lived in Hillsboro. I didn't recognize him, but my sister, who accompanied me, did.
She said, "Hey, don't I know you? Aren't you Mike K?"
He responds with a smile, "Yes, I am. Did you guys live in Hillsboro, too?"
"Yes, I'm Marie Godbey, and this is my sister, Eden."
"I'm the one with the tumor," I clarify.
Mike, like all of the members of his family has a permanent smile on his face, but his cheeks were sunken from his cancer--a GBM--the most deadly brain cancer. His hair was short, and gray, from cancer and surgery.
By the time I had joined the support group, Mike had undergone two surgeries. Still, he never complained, never wavered from his support of the group. He always had plenty of hugs, and we always needed them.
He became the unofficial facilitator of the group. I would go just to see him. He seemed to know what we were going through in a way the real facilitator didn't. His optimism was infectious, and one who has a brain tumor finds optimism hard to feel.
Which is why I became a hallow shell when he died. By the way, by the time he died, he had braved five surgeries--so may that the doctors wouldn't perform any more. It was a terrible loss to the group, because, we didn't have his leadership, and it reminded us of our own mortality.
I went to his funeral at the Forestry Center. I hugged his wife and tole her I was sorry for her loss, and sorry for our loss too.
I held it together until a video was shown of an interview his wife conducted with him, shortly before he died. There he was STILL SMILING, and saying how wonderful his life was to have her in it.
Then there was the slide show set to his favorite songs. Pictures of a younger, healthier Mike filled the room, making me smile and cry at the same time.
By the way, Mike was CFO for Rassmussen BMV. But he would not want to be remembered for that. He would want to be remembered as someone who never gave up, and who fought for his life.