Sunday, January 14, 2007


This post is, in part, about my own attempts to grieve over Michael's death, reconcile myself to life without him and celebrate the great impact he had on our lives. Aunt Sue, if you are reading this, well... I'll do my best to faithfully represent all that was great about your son and I hope you aren't upset by anything you read here.


I was clearing out my emailbox when I stumbled upon a note written by Michael before he died. Now, I know some people who keep emails from people who are deceased, because they think its important. I can understand letters, like actual tangible written material. But not emails. I started reading it and after the first line, I stopped. I said to myself, don't do this to yourself and I deleted it.

Originally, I had a different reason for this post, and it now follows.

My Great uncle Jimmy and I don't really have a relationship. I don't remember much about him and what I do remember from my childhood is a man who is hard of hearing, often spoke in confusing terms and I was actually sort of scared of. That feeling kept with me all the way until Michael's funeral.

My Great Uncle Jimmy is a man. An elderly man who is just as frail and corporeal as I am. In this difficult time, I saw the actual man that Uncle Jimmy really is, someone who was falling prey to the timeless disease of Age and was losing his capacities like all elderly people do. Yet, from his lips there was truth. I remember him saying to me, in the clearest of terms, "I've been to alot of funerals, but this one affected me the most, because I watched him grow up and he was so young."

Of all the things that were said, that stuck with me the most. And I think that reflects the tragic nature of Michael's passing.

As I ruminated on this, I was reminded of the words of the writer F. Scott Fitzgerald who said, "Show me a hero and I'll write you a tragedy."

Well, while Michael's end was tragic, his life was by no means a tragedy and I'll tell you, he certainly was heroic. I think that it is important to remember that not all courage is loud, and that bravery is not a function of firepower. I can only barely conceive the depths of moral fiber and personal greatness that is required to fight such a horrible disease as CF for so long and defy all the odds to live as long as Michael lived. Not only did he live longer than everyone expected him to, he lived WELL.


That, my friends, is exceptionally hard to do. And yet he made it seem so easy. I think that the key to Michael's greatness is that he always made you feel as if you were part of a group, but that his relationship to you was special. Many people remarked on that at his funeral.

Whatever it was... the magic touch, his sense of humour, whatever, Michael was able to touch us and teach by example. I, for one, would have never had the impetus to look past my frightened views of Uncle Jimmy to see the generally kind man that he actually was. Even in death, Michael taught me a lesson in kindness.

And that is his most important legacy to me personally.


-Billy Ruffian

Saturday, January 06, 2007


I wish to never be a pall bearer again, as long as I live.

My heart felt as heavy as lead.

Yet, in a very meaningful sense, I was honoured to carry Michael home.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Sad tidings

I regret to report that after a long and hard battle with Cystic Fibrosis, time has run out for my cousin Michael. He has been removed from life support and he is too weak for a transplant. My family is united in our love for this wonderful person who made a unique and positive emotional difference in all our lives.

He was a good man, a kind man. A man who fought hard every day of his life like a warrior. He was a man you'd be proud to be in the same family with. He was a man with many friends.

I shall do my best to honour Michael's memory by living well and by remembering the good times we shared as adults and as men whenever we were together.

God bless him.