"Kat" was the name he called me, even when I introduced myself as Kathy. Apparently, that just wasn't going to work for him. Mind you...Michael had the thickest Brooklyn accent and all I could ever think about when he'd talk and tell stories was the movie, Goodfellas. Michael was loud and when he wanted your attention, he got it. With me, it was always, "YO, KAT!!" followed by whatever he felt like talking about.
People would joke that he had mob ties...I flat out asked him. Just a tap on the nose and a wink and a smile would be the answer. So, of course I'd always flip him shit about it and poke at him and ask him how many people he whacked. It was always hilarious because he knew I did it because of the accent, but also because of the black leather jacket he'd wear from time to time and whatever hairstyle he had going back then.
Michael always had your back - right or wrong...but only if he cared about you. If he thought poorly of you, you knew. You knew because he was honest and caring and was a no-bullshit kind of a guy.
He had his quirks just like everybody else and sometimes he'd piss you off, sometimes he'd get your eyes rolling so far in the back of your head you swear you saw your own brain, but all the good he put out in the world overshadowed anything that could ever be construed as imperfect.
Michael's laugh. Completely loud, raspy, and hearty - if that even makes sense. AND you could somehow hear the Brooklyn accent even in his laughter! How is that possible? He loved to laugh. He loved to smile. But he really loved seeing those things in the people around him. No matter where that man went...from WA and all the way to Fl, he made friends wherever he went. It came easy for him. And if you were lucky enough to be one of his friends, you always got big bear hugs.
He knew how to read people, too. He had a sense to figure someone out, whether they were someone worth knowing...or someone to kick to the curb. There were a couple times I got warnings about what he thought of someone's integrity, and looking back, I should've listened.
There was one time that I was going through some hard stuff and there was a person he disliked very much who was the cause of my grief and he told me he'd take care of it. No one else was in a position to do anything for me in that moment except for him and he promised to make what was hurting me, stop. I cried when he said this because I knew he meant it and I knew he'd help me because I knew how much my friendship and my happiness meant to him - and him seeing me unhappy was unacceptable. Of course, I said no - but knowing that he was again, no-bullshit, he'd take care of bringing my happiness back was overwhelming.
Michael was a good influence and a bad influence. He was real. We'd have chats from time to time about life, about his love life, about any upcoming surgeries he was not excited about, and about a whole lot of nothing. He was a fun person. He was a good person. He was a brave person. Who packs up all their things and moves clear across the country to try a new place, make new friends, and STILL maintain the old ones? He did that. I was sad when he moved because it felt like I was losing a part of my family. But when I learned how happy he was out there, I was happy for him too.
So, I guess I had to write this as a means to deal with this right this second, knowing it will hit me again a little down the road and it will hurt all over again. But I needed to get it out. I will miss him. I will miss him terribly. And the dumbest thing is I'll miss being called Kat...because he is the only person who has ever called me that and it stuck. It was our thing.
Yo, Michael...you will forever be loved and you will be missed. Never ever forgotten because there's just too much to remember, my friend. Not good bye...good journey.