Friday, July 10, 2009

Three Months Yesterday

A lot has been going on inside of me,

a blanket of sadness enveloping me like a dark night.
A storm rolled in from the sea.

I may have already posted the lyrics to this song. The person I am is someone who can listed to a song 30 or more times in a row. I woke up on the couch, crashed watching tv. I decided to load some new music on my ipod and put on my headphones. I looked at music in my library and found this song. I downloaded the lyrics and spent a few moments changing the words up. I love Winter Song... The first time I heard it was after they performed on Jay Leno. I went on YouTube and watched the video about 20 times that night. I purchased the song on itunes and haven't listed to it much since then.

Michael passed away 3 months ago yesterday (Thursday), an anniversary parents shouldn't have to celebrate. This is my winter song to Michael.....

Bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum
Bum bum bum bum bum bum
Bum bum bum bum bum bum

This is our winter song to you.
You left us too soon,
A storm rolled in from the sea

Your voice; a beacon in my night.
my memories are my light,
I carry you with me.

Is love alive?
Is love alive?
Is love alive?

They say that things just cannot grow
Beneath the winter snow,
Or so i have been told.

They say your spirit lives far,
Just like a distant star
we simply cannot hold.

Our love is alive...
Our love is alive...
Our love is alive...

This is my winter song.
April 9th never felt so wrong,
Cause you're not where you belong;
inside our arms.

Bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum
Bum bum bum bum bum bum
Bum bum bum bum bum bum

Do I still believe in summer days?
The seasons always change
And life will find a way.

Ill be your harvester of light
And send it out every night
One day to meet again.

Our love is alive...
Our love is alive...
Our love is alive...

This is our winter song.
April never felt so wrong,
Cause you're not where you belong;
Inside our arms.

This is my winter song to you.
You left us too soon
A storm rolled in from the sea.

Our love for you a beacon in the night.
My words will be your light
To carry you to me.

Our love is alive...
Our love is alive...
Our love is alive...

Our love is alive...
Our love is alive...
Our love is alive...

Our love is alive...
Our love is alive...
Our love is alive...

Our love is alive...
Our love is alive...
Our love is alive...

Our love is alive...
Our love is alive...
Our love is alive...

Our love is alive...
Our love is alive...
Our love is alive...

Download the song from iTunes, it is beautiful. Michael would have said, "You are still listening to the same song?" I would have shown him the video and he would have liked it because it was a cartoon and he was a lover of cartoons.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Michael's Name Project

To celebrate Michael, my wife has started a Michael's Name Project Group on Flickr.
Michael's Name Project.

We would love it if you could post a photo of anything interesting with his name "Michael" on it, and if you would like to join the group, just send Jenn a request with Michael's name in the body of the e-mail.
Thanks all for everything! I love all the pictures!

Happy Birthday Michael

I remember you, do you remember me too
Born on the 1st of July the sight of cartoons made you laugh
And though you’re going far from home rest assured you’re not alone

‘Cause I would give everything that I own
I’d give you my heart and this skin and these bones
The sun the moon the earth the sky I’d never even stopped to wonder why
I would do anything
I would give everything
to see you one more time
now that you are gone

It seems like such a long long time since you were here
But I think that you should know
we didn't want you to go

‘Cause I would give everything that I own
I gave you my love and this heart formally made of stone
The sun the moon the earth the sky The gocart that I like to ride
I would do anything
I would give everything
to see one more time
now you are up in the sky

But if ever you should stray, just know we loved you everyday
Look into our hands You're slipping through them like a tiny grain of sand

I remember you, do you remember me too
Seems like such a long long time since you were near and I called you mine

‘Cause I would give everything that I own
I’d give you my heart and this skin and these bones
The sun the moon the earth the sky a brand new gocart that you and I could drive
I would do anything
I would give everything
to see you one more time
now that you are gone
rest assured you are not alone

* Liberally taken and modified from Stereo Fuse, "Everything".

Monday, June 29, 2009

T minus One Day

T Minus One day until Michael's 10th birthday. We love birthdays in this house. Especially if it is Jenn's or Michael's. We would have had a scavenger hunt. I remember the first time we did the scavenger hunt. Jenn did one for my birthday and Michael loved it so much he wanted one. So Jenn spent the time, drew a great map and we hid presents in various locations. Michael didn't know what to do at first, he wasn't sure what the map was for and how to proceed. Finally with enough coaxing, he started on the map to read the clues with help and to follow the map. What a fun birthday that was. This year will be much different. It is T Minus One Day for us to celebrate Michael's 1st birthday without him, no scavenger hunt, no Michael, no fun.


It's been four days since my last post and I find it hard to come to my blog. I find it difficult to post. I want my life to be consumed by other things, so that I don't continue to feel sad. Sad as a word doesn't even begin to describe how I feel. I am not aware of a better word at this moment which could convey my deep sorrow and loneliness that Michael is gone.
It's hard to post when you are sad, everytime I hear the song "hey there Delilah" I get so sad. I keep remember hearing him sing witout knowing the lyrics. He would always say the last word of a chorus after it had been sung. Some songs he knew more lyrics.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Stories are all I have left

Stories are all I have left of Michael. Sure we have some physical things (toys/clothes/etc), but stories are what I live for. I love to hear stories and I love to tell them. I have no new stories and find myself grasping to remember any little story. I know the day will come when I remember no more. Sooner than that will be the day that I keep telling the same story over and over. I am like that now with things that happened to me in 1994 or 1991 or 1996.

How will I react when I have no more new stories of Michael? How will it feel? Will it bother me or will many things fade. I don't know what I am going through. I can honestly say that I have been more productive at work this week than a long time. Michael's birthday is coming next week and we have so much to do. I don't want to do anything. I just sit on the couch watch tv, surfing the web at the same time. I go to the gym everyday for an hour and am back at home. I just don't have the energy. I can only muster myself the energy to walk at the gym. It's all I can do. While walking I think of the stories that Michael told me and stories that I told him, watch a little tv then rinse, wash, and repeat.

What happens when the memories and stories fade? I have a terrible memory, I forget most things. My life started somewhere around 1988 with my childhood being a blur. My memories and stories from that time on have comforted me and made me feel happy, sad and a host of other emotions. My memory is slipping and stories are all I have left....
for now.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Do you ever have any cool dreams? What about scary ones?

I used to ask Michael about his dreams virtually every day. Whenever I went to wake him up in the morning my routine was...
"Wake up buddy" Nudging him gently
"I am so glad you are awake" Once his eyes were open
He would stumble out of bed and walk lead footed to the bathroom leaving the bathroom door open, then sit on the toilet and pee.
When he would come out, I would ask him "What do you want for breakfast"
He would say "Pancakes!"

I would grab 2 pancakes from the freezer and pop them in the microwave. I would add sugar free syrup to the pancakes without butter and give him the plate.
Lately I would ask him to pay for the pancakes and juice (V8 fusion).
While he was eating I would ask him if he had any good dreams that night. Most nights he did have good dreams. They were always about him getting being a good guy and defeating a bad guy. They may have had monsters, knights, or space ships in it. A lot of times is was the military and he was a leader defeating the bad guys. He would finish his story after the pancakes and maybe continue it in the car on the way to school.

I wonder if he has any dreams now? Does he miss those delicious pancakes?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dirty Glasses

Michael wore glasses, he actually had two pair and got these glasses recently (last few months). He would get his glasses so dirty. They would have fingerprints, smudges, and oily marks on them. Every morning before school, I would get his glasses and clean them off. Every night I would show him the proper way to take off and put on his glasses. With all that instruction, he still managed to get his glasses very smudged.

When I first heard about his glasses, jenn said that they were gold and plastic. Gold and Plastic, I thought to myself, did he not hear about all of my stories in the big brown glasses and my anti-coolness?

When I got home, I saw the glasses and they were not so bad. I admired him for picking out an edge-y pair of glasses, I know I never would have done such a thing. He pulled off the Bronze (in my color palette) plastic glasses quite well. The frames appeared to be a bit small for his growing head (when do our heads stop growing?). I loved the fact that he finally liked glasses and would wear them all the time.

He told me once...
"I used to hate wearing glasses, until I looked around class and saw the other kids who wore glasses. Then I thought it was ok to wear them." He used to fall asleep wearing his glasses, it was very cute. Each time I would have a mini-cow because I didn't want them to break. Looking back, I am glad he got to see the world clearer the last few months. I am also glad at his outlook on life, I know I never was that cool about things as a child (nor as an adult!).

Monday, June 22, 2009

Piplup Plush Animals and Nellie

Michael loved stuffed animals. He loved ones that would fit in his hand, bigger was not always better. He used to keep several of his prized stuffed animals on his bed last year. I remember when the Pokemon small plush animals came out at Target. Michael would walk by and handle each plush figure.

Unfortunately our dog loved to eat stuffed animals. She could eat a fake squirrel but couldn't be bothered with a real one. Nellie loved sitting in Michael's room looking out the window at the world. If she happened to find one of Michael's stuffed animals, she was in heaven. She would take the stuffed animal to her favorite location in the living room or would tear apart the stuffed animal right on Michael's bed. She would usually pull out half of the stuffing and rip the animal in a few pieces.

Michael having lost several of his prized possessions, was diligent in shutting his bedroom door each and every day. It always made me feel sad to see the look of horror when he realized that Nellie had gotten to another of his stuffed animals. If Nellie got to one of his animals, we would end up replacing it within a week or two.
Piplup was one of his favorite stuffed animals because it fit in his hand. I remember the day we bought it at Target, it drew a huge smile from his face! He would say in a squeaky voice "Piplup, Piplup, Piplup!" Apparently, Pokemon could only say their names and sit on your shoulder like a parrot, or walk on the kitchen counter. It was a cool pokemon and what child doesn't like a penguin? Piplup's major weapons were bubbles or water. We used to play with Piplup when he was younger, but now I only have the hollow echo's of Michael saying "Piplup, Piplup, Piplup."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day

Father's day is a day to celebrate all that your dad has done for you and if you are a father, have your children celebrate you on this day. I used to be a father, up until April 9th. I can't say I was the best father, I can say that I went through phases. Some phases I was more attentive to Michael than others. I have been told that I am too hard on myself and I think I always will be. I could take this post to detail all the areas I was deficient as a father, but I won't do that to Michael's Memory. I can say that he taught me to care and love someone. Someone that couldn't make it on his own (because he was a child, he did have a super awesome mom and great grandparents).

So how could Michael have honored me today? Michael will always honor me as his father because he was a good person. He had a heart of gold bigger than any grown-ups. He once offered me a cookie he got (and he loved cookies) at the Atlanta Bread Company because he was proud of me for getting a certification. I know a lot of kids would not give up their favorite desert because their dad got a paper certification. Michael's everyday actions honored me. He loved me and brought out the best in me. Michael and Jenn were a 1 2 team. They could brighten my day and fix any wrong.
Michael helped out so much around the house and never really got an allowance. Michael would say I was the best dad in the world. While I may not have always believed it, it sounded so good coming out of his little mouth.

Michael loving to hear my stories and asking me time and time again to tell stories honored me. I never thought a child could make such an impact on my life given my history as a child and what I went through. I never thought I would make a great dad, but in my heart I think I did OK, that Michael got everything he wanted and got the love and affection that a dad deserves to give his kids. Michael was my beacon of hope, that after everything he went through he was a resilient, kind-hearted, loving, compassionate, caring, honest, and funny kid. He truly was one in a million and I am better for having had him in my life.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The last thing we did together

The last thing that Michael and I did together....

What is the last thing that you want to be known for with any friends or family. Take a moment and think about it. Would it be something spectacular or something very sweet and loving. Would it be angry or petty. I often wonder now would I do things differently. I think I have a better sense that life can be incredibly short. I have had a lot of my family die in my life but I never once got that message until Michael passed away.

The last thing we did was re-route our Comcast Cable from around the room to under the bed. It was rather mundane and not very exciting. Michael didn't quite understand what I wanted him to do because I didn't give him the big picture before we started. Once he understood, he did a great job. We worked together to get the cable run under the bed and under the dresser and finally up to the TV. He wanted to get to school early that morning. I am glad that I was dragging my feet because I got an additional memory from that April Day.

While the memory is not exciting, it is one of the last memories I have. It was a memory from his last day. He was the greatest helper and most times helped without question. All in all, I could never have asked for a better child. I always told him he was the best son a dad could have. Thank you Michael for being who you were and leaving me a better person for it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Chick-Fil-A Birthday

Last Year I signed Michael up for the Chick-Fil-A birthday club. We joined at the one closest to us on Capital Circle. I love the store and the marketing campaigns they have there. Chick-fil-A in general really has their finger on the pulse of America. Last year we went to the party because we could. Michael was real nervous and we happened to get there very early. There were about 8-9 kids there, Michael being the oldest. Michael got a birthday shirt which they had him wear, they got to color, free lunch, a piece of cake I think and a free ice dream cone, and of course a balloon sculpture "thingy." Michael had them make him a sword, a sword he could use to get the bad guys in his pretend world that followed him everywhere.

It was a sweet party and Michael really didn't know what to do with himself at the time, I had him sit with the other kids while I sat off to the side out of the spotlight. At the end of the party, the kids got to spin the wheel and get a free prize. Michael won a free sandwich, but the prize he really wanted was the Chick-fil-A cow plush mini-toy. He walked back to me slightly disappointed, I told him to go up to ask the lady to see if he could exchange his gift. He was scared to go up there. He was a shy kid and didn't want to do it. I told him to go back up and ask for it, because if he didn't no one would know and it never hurt to ask.

He did go up there with some more talking on my part and asked for he cow. The lady exchanged him the coupon for the cow and he walked back to me with a huge smile on his face. Over the past year, he had developed even more confidence and I was sure that this year he would tell the employee what he wanted upon winning a prize.
Yesterday I got the Chick-fil-A birthday club party announcement. It broke my heart that Michael will not be able to go this year or any other year. I can't help but feel my heart sink when events come up that I think he may enjoy, but he is no longer here to experience them.

Thank you Chick-fil-A for giving me that memory with my son last year. I was always up for trying new things, especially if they meant free food for my son.Chick-fil-A, support Chick-fil-A and their Birthday Club! They have the best people of any fast food establishment.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Movies We Can't Watch - And Ones Michael Would Love

Here is a list of movies that we can't really watch. If you know of any other movies, let me know.
1) 7 pounds - never got around to seeing the end once we realized what was happening
2) John Q - Worst movie because of the theme.
3) My Sisters Keeper - With Michael's heart condition, how could we watch this movie?
4) Heart of a Child - Tear Jerker

Movies that Michael would have loved
1) Transformers 2 - he would have loved this best
2) Up
3) Night at the Museum 2
4) Monster vs Aliens
5) Star Trek and Wolverine - not sure if Jenn would let him see these
6) Land of the Lost
7) Year One - not sure of the rating on this
8) Ice Age 3
9) G-Force
10) G.I. Joe - he would have loved this best
11) Astro-boy
12) Planet 51
13) Avatar

As you can see our hobby was children's movies, by listing the movies Michael would have liked. Michael and I saw Bolt at the dollar theater. Michael liked the dollar theater because I would let him play video games before the movie, and we would eat ice cream after the movie next door. He loved snickers popables, and was known to eat Mike and Ikes or some twizzlers.

Best Friends

Today was an interesting day for me. To start the day, I had a best friend from my past get back in touch with me, John W. John was the only guy who stuck with me through all the hard times I had when I was a teenager (death of a mom, granddad, and my HS friends ditching me, loss of my brothers to live with my dad, in addition to your everyday teenager stuff). If not for my friend John, I am sure I would not be here today.
Also today, I went to my best friend James's house. James and I have been best friends for a long time, we were quad mates in the dorms at FSU back in 96. We roomed together in 97 and were roommates for a couple of years. James has been a big part of my life for the past decade, through weddings, births, new cars, broken down cars, broken computers, you name it. If I were broken down 3 hours from here at 3 in the morning and needed someone to come get me, my friend James would come get me. If you do not have a friend like this, then you are missing out. Most times I went to James's house, I would take Michael along for the ride. Michael and I would play games in the car on the ride to and from James's house.
It takes about 45 minutes to get to James's house, 101 South Boonies lane. Rarely would I go to James's house without Michael. Actually, the only time I wouldn't take Michael is if Michael was out of town. It was a very hard trip to make without Michael. On my way down I cried in the car when I thought about how Michael loved me to tell him "funny stories" about my youth. When I thought about how Michael loved to hear my stories and that he would laugh and light up when I told them, my eyes misted up. Tears raced down my cheeks when I knew that he will no longer be able to hear my stories.
James and I took the boat out and I remembered one time when we took Michael with us, that Michael loved the boat ride, but always made sure he was fully inside the boat and safe. James would always wrestle with Michael and pick him up or flip him around. Michael loved the attention James gave him.
Michael had best friends too. Michael had a best friend Addison while in pre-school. He had a best friend Tony while in Kindergarten. Michael really looked up to Tony, and he liked the Jaguars because of Tony (even though Michael never watched football). These last two years he became best friends with Greg, Kemo, Mallory, and Cayle. Michael loved these friends and they all were very close. This year Greg, Mallory and Cayle were super close. I was so proud that Michael had friends like I have had, that he had the best of friends and it was such a wonderful year. Michael passed out next to Mallory and Greg while Cayle was in the class too. You can never pick when your kids pass away, but I know that he was not alone. He had his mother in his heart every minute of every day, he had me with him at all times, and he passed out next to the best friends he had, whom he saw everyday; then passed away later.
He did not die alone, he was with people whom he loved very much during his last waking moments. As much as I wish Jenn and I could be there, I know that he knew Jenn and I loved him and were always with him. Some of his last thoughts were about playing with his friends, it is sad and unfair and it makes me cry, but at least he had best friends and they had such a wonderful effect upon him. They had shared experiences ranging from growing up, making movies, movie/cartoon/tv characters, fighting monsters, and doing everything in between.
He had loving parents, and had his very own best friends, the best friends anyone could ask for. He was a happy, no, a very happy boy.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I am not sure why Michael is gone, I know that I will never know. I know that no one can know. No one can tell me why. I know that people will say he is in a better place and that he loves me. Many times there is no comfort or solace in that statement. No one knows what to say when it comes to Michael. People either avoid the subject or talk about how Jenn is doing. I happily talk about how Jenn is doing and tell them I am doing ok. Just ok, I move through life day by day without the joy that once walked beside me. Some days are more sad then others. I try to fill my time with work and other tasks only to return to a house that no longer has the playful thread of Michael walking, running, jumping, sneaking, or dancing.

As much as I want to know why, I really wish I could have said goodbye. I am hard on myself all the time and have been all my life. Michael used to say "It's O.K. Stu, it's not so bad." Unfortunately, he can't tell me that now. I have to move through these moments and try not to be too hard on myself, and remember the fact that I was left with years of memories, lots of pictures, several videos, and a great wife to remember the Michael Moments.

For all the moments and great things Michael taught me, I am still left with the one question I will never get answered "Why."

Big Shirt

When Michael was about 6 or 7 or 8, his view of the world made me smile. He used to say when he grew up that he needed me to save my business clothes so he could have something to wear. I would tell him, I hope you are not my size when you grow up and that he would want his own clothes. Michael loved clothes shopping, and was always excited to get new clothes. Jenn did a great job picking out outfits for him. If he really loved a shirt he would wear it until the bottom of his belly would stick out of the shirt. It always made me laugh that he was in such a tiny shirt. The same thing happened with costumes. His Spiderman costume was super tight, it was frayed everywhere and it came down to about 5 inches above his ankle. We always got our money's worth from costume(s).

Diet Rite - Orange Style

I love Diet Rite, but only the orange flavor (tangerine I think). Michael also loved Diet Rite. Michael and I could go through a 2 liter very fast (mostly me). I always loved watching him go into the refrigerator get the two liter out reach up and get a glass from the cabinet (I had recently noticed that he no longer needed the stool to get to the glasses, he was growing up). He would open the two liter and pour a glass (Like his mother, he never used ice). He would then look over at me take a drink and smile. Or if he was in the mood, he would come over to the couch and sit down next to me and ask "Whatcha watching Stu". I would usually give him a hard time that he was drinking my drink and he loved the game and would usually mention it to me "Stu, I am drinking your Diet Rite". I just bought some Diet Rite at the store in 2 Liters (my second time since he passed away). It made me sad to think that I have no one to share my Diet Rite with from now on.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

One Shot

Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted…one moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip?
-- Eminem - One Shot Lyric Snippit

If you had one moment with your loved ones,
a child, a friend.... could you say that you
seized that moment.

Too often in life we go day by day, going
through the motions, losing sight of the things
that are really important to us.

I can't say that I seized every moment with
Michael, I can't say that I took advantage of
every opportunity.

I can say that I know now how important every
moment is. That every moment can touch your
soul if you let it. That if you open up and really
let that moment touch you. Give it a
shot, go ahead and practice. Share a truly
emotional deep moment with your child, parent,
sibling, friend, or coworker. You may surprise
that person, but you should find that you have
made a connection that you could hold forever.

Every day we let hundreds of moments slip by,
but try today to grasp and hold one of those
moments. Try to make that deeper connection
with someone in your life.

Carpe Diem - Just Do It! :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Skee Daddy, Michael, and the Lightning Round

I was just starting to teach Michael about the stock market. I would come home and pop on Cramer's Mad Money. The show is a great vehicle to teach people the basics about the stock market, no matter if you are 9 or 99 years old. Michael loved the Lightning Round. While he didn't know much about stocks or the market, he was fascinated by Cramer. Cramer is entertaining, so Michael would say "The crazy guy is on TV" or "He is so crazy" or "The Skee Daddy Guy is on TV" or "ARE YOU READY SKEE DADDY? The crazy guy is on", or "Stu can you believe he is nuts?". Michael would say "your show is on", but in my mind I was thinking it was "Our show" buddy.

I loved watching Mad Money with Michael, he rarely watched the whole show because of school or play, but we did get to see the lightning round everytime. I haven't really watched Mad Money since Michael passed away because it would bring back sad memories. I have not been in the market in months when I was trading daily (it was my new hobby).

Whenever Michael and I raced to the car in the morning I would say "ARE YOU READY SKEE DADDY?" And Michael would be off racing to the car. It was fun letting Michael win, and it was fun saying "Are you ready skee daddy?". No I have tears running down my cheek when I say it in my head.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tears and Fears

Whenever I see pictures of Michael I get tears in my eyes. Typically they race down my face like fast approaching storm. How can I keep Michael in my memories without having the tears. I hate being sad, so there a lot of times and things that I do not want to remember.
I have a guilty vein in me and I am always hard on myself. If I think about it, I can think of a million different things I would have done better. Literally a million. So my days are spent
trying to remember, but trying not to try.
Trying to think I did my best, when I know I could have done better.
Trying to think I will always remember every little thing, but knowing I forget things day by day.
Pacing the house when I have nothing to do, just wasting time walking in circles.
Hating weekends because they were the times I spent the most time with Michael.
Not knowing what to do with myself.
Wanting to let Michael know that he meant the world to me even if I don't always think about him because it makes me to sad to think that is really gone.

Speed Racer

Michael and I used to go to James's house for parties. One of the best things about James's house was that he had a go-cart. I remember one of the first times we took the go cart out, I know I really wanted to ride it and so did Michael.
We took the go-cart to a dirt pit where we gave the cart to Taylor to ride. unfortunately, the tires were slick and the pit had a lot of loose sand. James had to get Taylor unstuck 3 or 4 times. We then found an empty abandoned road with a trail running along side it for a mile or so. We got the go-cart off the truck and put it on the trail. Taylor and James road down the trail (I wouldn't let Michael go with Taylor until I saw her driving style). When they came back, Michael was so excited about going on the cart and driving. I let him get in the drivers seat and we were off (after being buckled in of course). Michael was not the best driver, he swerved thinking it was a video game and we came close to a tree. I stopped us and switched to where I was driving. Michael was still happy to be in the go-cart. His face lit up and he was all smiles as we raced back to James and Taylor.
We drove the cart 5-10 more trips when visiting James. It was always a blast and Michael would ride with Taylor mostly. He loved driving and I found some pics from the last time we drove.
He was my speed racer.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Green Army Men

Wouldn't it be nice if I could get a group of 20 people to dress up as green army men and walk in the Tallahassee Winter Parade. Michael loved going to the parade, he loved drinking a Sprite and watching the floats pass by. His favorites were the police motorcycles and the military floats. They always put a smile on his face. My favorite was always the WM trash truck.

North Florida Fair Memories

Michael wanted to be in the military, he loved all things military. Future weapons, and the military channel could sustain him for weeks if we let him. Here is a photo of him in front of a military truck. These trucks were at the north florida fair in Tallahassee.
In this pose he probably was wanting to get back to the rides. I had us take a walk around and see the animals and the Swine Races. Now that Swine flu freaks people out, I don't know if the swine racers are still traveling. Jenn really liked the show. Michael tried to pick me to root on one of the pigs. We went to the fair every year. One year Michael got to root for a pig, but his pig didn't win.
I am glad Jenn went with us this time.
Michael liked riding the Jalopy Junction, the fun houses, the bumper cars, and the blow up/jumpy things. He especially loved winning prizes or trying to win prizes, Jenn was suckered into paying more than she expected by the carnival prize patrol too.
All in all it was a great trip and we enjoyed ourselves, I will miss taking Michael to the Fair :(, and I make sure I keep the money for prizes. :)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Michael vs Darth Maul

Here is a video of Michael at Star Wars Weekends 2008. It rained that weekend we were there, so Michael missed a lot of autograph opportunities. We heard about characters in this building where they sold star wars merchandise, so we decided to wait.
What you don't know is that we waited several hours to get these shots. He also got 3 other shots. Michael was playing with another kid in line. We really wanted two storm troopers to come up and sign his autograph book too, but they were just entertaining the people in line. Michael loved Star Wars, but when it came to the characters up close he wasn't too sure. He especially didn't want to see the bad guys up close. They kind of freaked him out. Too bad we didn't go this year, he would have been less afraid and would have showed moxie.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

High Five

Jenn had the opportunity to walk in the Komen 3 day walk in Atlanta a year ago.  Michael and I went to cheer her on.  The weather was poor for the first day or two.  
Here are two brief stories:
1) On day one a few miles from the start, Michael and I were hanging out at a cheering station waiting for Jenn to make it.  We were one of the first few families there.  Michael and I would keep getting out of the  car in our poncho's and wait in the rain for her.  We got bored waiting and I had Michael wear his FSU football helmet from a costume.  We cheered on the walkers by yelling "Way to go!".  A lady walking stopped to talk to us, she told us she was doing a scavenger hunt while on the walk.  She had graduated from FSU and needed to get a picture of FSU gear, so she asked if she could take a picture of her and Michael.  Michael was unsure, but posed at my request. Go 'Noles.

On the third day, Michael and I walked up to the last cheering station and while waiting we bumped into Uncle Bob, Joani, Sean, and Ashley.  While at the cheering station, I told him that he could earn some "Man points" by giving the walkers High Fives.  He was not one to do it without some coaxing.  So I told him once he had 10 or 20 high fives he could get a prize (Star Wars figure of course).  He started giving "High Fives" and really enjoyed it.  I told him that he was helping the walkers focusing on finishing.  He really took off and I think he must have given 500 or more "High Fives" before we left the cheering station.  It was great seeing Jenn walking, and watching Michael give her a great big hug.  It was also funny to see Micheal hold up a "Dooley Women have Big TATA's" Sign.  While he may not have understood everything about the walk, he appreciated Jenn participating and that everyone was doing something great.    I am not sure if he knew he didn't have TATA's.  A lot of people on the walk talked to Michael and it made an impression on them as well as for him.  Jenn may do the walk again this year, monitor her blog for her progress.

This couch isn't big enough for the two of us

We have a small brown couch from Pier 1, it stinks.  It is super-lightweight, not very wide, and is barely 5.5 feet long.  I loved laying on the couch though.  It was the only place our dog Nellie wasn't allowed.  It also was in front of our Den T.V.  
When Michael was smaller he used to get on the opposite end of the couch and would lay on it also.  This was not too much of a problem when he was small.  I would move his feet behind my legs.  As he got taller his feet inched higher and higher up on me.  He was at the point where his feet were near my butt.  That was weird and we were always trying to adjust his feet so they didn't poke me.  I loved it when he was on the couch and we watched tv together.  It was usually a cartoon like Chaotic.  We would each lay at opposite ends of the couch with a pillow under our heads.  We would be under a sheet and watch the latest episode of Chaotic.  Of course there was always the "move your legs Michael" and the "Stu your toes are in my face" banter between us.  The banter would get annoying at times, but I would give anything to hear that banter again.  We purchased a new couch (blue) a week before Michael died.  When picking this couch, I made sure that it would hold the bigger Michael and me.  That feature was the most important for me actually.  Michael never got to see the couch (he was on spring break when we picked it out), and we didn't get it until several weeks after the funeral.  Laying on the couch has never been the same.
When Jenn did her all night scraps, Michael and I would get on the couch, cover up with a sheet.  I would fall asleep first and he would soon follow as we watched a movie.  Nothing was sweeter than seeing his angelic face sleeping on the couch.  He would cup his face with his right hand and have his left hand near his chest.  When he was sleeping, he was at peace.  
He is at peace now, but I miss the mild yet managed anarchy that once roamed our house.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pirin and Peyung

Michael was not the best at pronouncing names.  He used to call aspirin "Pirin" and when he was younger he called guns "Peyung" for the sound they made.
Jenn didn't want guns in the house, yet he would grab a stick and turn it into a "Peyung"  telling other kids that they should play "Peyung".  Of course, they had no idea what he was talking about until he made a gun out of his hand.  He loved weapons of all sorts, and the good guys always won.  A few years back, he realized that a "Peyung" was called a gun and he had outgrown his "Peyung" phase.  I miss those years, but I cherish the fact that as long as he was alive he was innocent.  He didn't know terrible things and had not had his heart broken.  His biggest care in the world was should he spend summer bowling money on Nacho's or trinkets from the toy machine at the bowling alley.
This summer was to be his greatest, he would have spent the whole summer in camp and would have been king of the camp.  He loved hosting Nintendo DS games with the kids at camp, and he had gotten real good at playing games.  He loved to watch people play and would be content playing or just watching.  That kind of attitude you just can't teach.  He was one of a kind.
I love that kid.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Snug as a bug in a rug

I used to always tuck Michael in real tight when he was younger.  I would tell him I was tucking him in, snug as a bug in a rug.  I would roll him towards me, tuck the covers under him.  Roll him away from me and tuck the covers under his other side real tight.  I would then tuck any extra under the bottom of his feet.
He would squirm out and ask me to do it again.  He would laugh and laugh, and his face would light up like a spring sunrise in Islamorada.  Warming the damp morning air.  Michael warmed my heart with every laugh, smile, and kind word.  He loved the fun things done over and over and over.  
I have a video of when I was tucking him in and watching it makes me so sad.  Sad like a heavy load that is placed on my chest 1 brick at a time.  That breathing become laborous, and tears race down my cheek searching for the ground.
When he passed away I didn't tuck him in.  I only hope that he can tuck me and Jenn in now; snug as a bug in a rug everynight.
Again Michael, Again.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Not Butter Teeth

Michael would brush his teeth.  I was never sure how well he did at it, so when he was younger I would have him breathe at me so I could smell his breath.  In my head I thought that if his mouth smelled strongly of toothpaste, then he brushed his teeth well.  If I couldn't smell the toothpaste breath, then he needed to re-brush his teeth.  
Unfortunately whenever he breathed on me, some spittle would get on me too.  I was never a fan of that part, but looking back, I miss it when he would let me test to see how well he brushed his teeth.

I also remember when he would never really spit out the toothpaste, a little spit would come out, but not much.  Not too long ago, I was brushing my teeth with him and I remember seeing him spit.  He did a great job of getting the toothpaste out of his mouth, that I high-fived him and praised him.  

There was a lot of little things that I thought were super important back then that I really let get to me.  Missing Michael, I wish for those times and don't feel I would have made as big of a deal out of it.  I didn't want him to be known as "Butter Teeth" or the kid with bad breath,  and he wasn't known as Butter Teeth or the kid with bad breath.  So in the end it all worked out.  I am sorry Michael for getting on your case about brushing your teeth and you can breath toothpaste spittle on me anytime. 

It seems I may have been mistake about the meaning of butter teeth, regardles I didn't want Michael to have yellow teeth.

Hair Care for Kids

Michael used to wash his own hair, however I am not sure how well he did it.  He would always get out of the shower with liquid hair (he never dried his head).  When I would go to dry his hair, it would be full of shampoo. 
Michael hated getting water in his eyes, so the only part of his hair that he ever got the soap out of was the back part.  He hated it when I helped him dry his hair, because sometimes I would have him go back in the shower and I would help wash the soap out of his hair.
He wasn't happy with me, but I really miss those nights when I would help him get all the shampoo out of his hair.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cosmic Bowl

My buddy James, Melissa, and their two kids would go bowling every month or two.  Typically they would call me and see if we wanted to go.  Jenn was usually at an all night scrapbooking session.  We would go to Capital Lanes to go bowling for Cosmic Bowl.
Cosmic Bowling for those of you who don't know, includes a dark room, a disco ball, loud music, and dancing lights.  We would get one lane and would usually bowl about two games.  Michael and Taylor would use the bumper rails.  Michael would take his ball walk up to the line and drop it.  Five minutes later when the ball reached the pins, one or two would drop.  He never cared about scores because his real love was the music and the racing red lights.
When it wasn't his turn, he would be dancing on the wood floor and Taylor would copy him.  Michael loved cosmic bowl, he had such fun.  His face was full of smiles and it was a wonderful time.  I am glad James invited me because Michael was never out late and we would never have had that opportunity.  
I will miss Michael Hiding from the red laser lights on the wall and floor in the bowling alley when he pretended that the cosmic bowl was a battle field the last time we went.  He also loved getting a Sprite to drink, and Nacho's and Cheese for a snack.  He was always my biggest fan whenever I bowled a strike and was there to give a "high five" and some words of encouragement.  My favorite part was when he told me to look up at the screen each time to show me where I should bowl my next ball to pick up the spare.
Capital Lanes also had Laser Tag, Michael loved Laser tag.  We would always play a game of Laser Tag after we had finished bowling.  He would get so excited and loved to try and shoot anyone on the other team.  Like always he was happy to be there and would have been happy just dancing at the Capital Lanes and not playing bowling or laser tag.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Nature Trails

Michael and I used to love to walk down Nature trails.  He was scared of a lot of things, but his first experiences on Nature Trails were pleasant.  We would usually get two sprites and walk down a board walk nature trail at Fort Matanzas.
At Mission San Luis, we went down to the nature trail, he thought it would be bright, and that we would walk down a board walk.  When we started the trail, he said to me... "Where is the nature trail?"  He got scared as we went deeper in the woods.  I coaxed him on and we made it through the trail.  On other occassions, we would pretend that as we went deeper into the woods that we were going back in time.  We were spaniards from the blockhouse on a mission of the utmost importance.  He loved the walk, we would explore and make sure we were able to gather great intel.  Other times we would pretend as we walked down the woods, that we were stepping back into prehistoric times.  That we had to avoid the bad dinosaurs.  We always made it out ok, and after each nature walk, Michael was satisified that we had the best time ever.
Every time I walk down a trail, I will remember those times.  I will take a step back in time with Michael at my side on a mission to gather intel on enemy troops or try to avoid dinosaurs with him.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Life in Motion

Life is in motion, it never stops, at times we feel like the world slows down and we catch a glimpse of the world in slow motion.  The world keeps turning, millions of people continue in their lives, everything changes.
Michael was always in motion, he was always doing something.  I was never able to keep up with him.  My world and his world were spinning at different speeds.  Many times they synched up, and we were never far apart.
When Michael died my world stopped, I was in shock.  I didn't know what to do.  I don't know how to cope.  I guess I keep thinking that he is gone, that he will be back someday.  In a sense I guess that is true.  The world is turning and I have trouble focusing.  Everythings is in motion and this place is emptier for me and Jenn without him.  My world is spinning out of control on several different axes. 
You can't hang on to those you love, you can't keep them forever.  They change - you change, you can only hold on to the memories and build new experiences and memories.  There is no stop motion where you can reposition or move back the pieces.  I have always looked in the past, then I met Michael and Jenn and I began looking foward in the future.  I don't think I spent enough time in the present.  I do have the memories, but feel cheated because I can no longer look forward to the future and see the three of us.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Mamma's Boy

Michael for all the guy things he was in to, was a momma's boy.  He loved to cuddle and love to share snacks with her.  They would get treats and shop together, they would get drinks (coke for Jenn and a sprite for Michael).  If Jenn and I were laying down in bed, he would come in with a big grin and work his way in between us.  A few days before he died, he was "snuggling" with mommy and asked if I wanted to join.  "The bed is not big enough for the three of us" I replied..  
They were great together, two peas in a pod.  Michael, the lover of green army men, and Jenn the lover of "The Real House Wives of some city"...

I miss hearing them play Uno in the other room and then Jenn coming out to tell me she won X times in a row.
I miss Michael squeezing up between us.
Mommy's Boy and all, he had a great look on life;  He loved the comfort of mommy, and only she could comfort him.  He was tough and loved to wrestle.  What more could you ask for....

Friday, May 22, 2009

Michael 3:26

Not a Bible verse, but I saw the video my wife made for the memorial service.  She picked the perfect song.  Goodnight My Beautiful Goodbye by Josh Kelley.  I don't want to say Good Night or Goodbye.  I can't believe Jenn picked the perfect pictures for the slide show/movie.  If you were to condense your life into 3:26 seconds, what song what you pick?  What pictures would you put on the slideshow?  
If you don't know the answer to the above question, take some time from your day and think about it.  A time of 3:26 in words would be around 400 words...  Do you know 400 words that would sum up your life?  I don't know the answers to these questions.  I do know the following things...
1) Michael left us too early
2) Michael taught me how to love
3) Michael had the best mom ever in Jenn
4) Life isn't fair
5) I don't know how to go on
6) Michael was a happy kid
7) Michael had a great heart and genuinely cared about others
8) I hope one day to have 1/10 of the genuineness he had
9) The past tense sucks

It's hard to say goodbye
When I'm holding out my hands
Holding out my hands for love
That opened my eyes
Filled with tears that never dry
For you the angels cry
Goodnight, goodnight, my sweet love you're
Goodnight, goodnight, the stars up above
will be bright
Despite a love bound and broken from the start
Goodnight, my beautiful goodbye
It's hard to comprehend
Our beginning is the end
Of a love that never had
A chance to dance with you
So I choose to take this pain
And wish for more to say than
Goodnight, goodnight, my sweet love you're
Goodnight, goodnight, the stars up above
will be bright
Despite a love bound and broken from
the start
Goodnight, my beautiful goodbye
Oh sweet angel of mine
Gone to sail through the night
In m heart you'll always be
I hope that you'll remember me wherever you are
Goodnight, goodnight, my sweet love you're
Goodnight, goodnight, stare up above will
be bright
Despite a love bound and broken from the start
Goodbye, Goodnight
Oh, Goodnight, goodnight, my sweet love
you're beautiful
Goodnight, goodnight, the stars up above
will be bright
Despite a love bound and broken from the start
Goodnight, my beautiful goodbye

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fort Matanzas

A couple of years ago, I went on a week long summer vacation to Crescent Beach, FL.  Michael was just starting to get involved in history and we had the opportunity to go to a couple of forts and to an Alligator Farm.  

Fort Matanzas - This was a small forte less than a mile from the house we were staying at.  You get to ride a short ferry across the river to get to the fort.  The fort is small, but real neat.  I think we went to the fort every day of the week that we were there.  It is a small park and a quick ferry trip, but we loved it.  It was at this vacation that he started to get heavy into military history.  We went to Fort Matanzas 5 times that week.  And we walked down the nature trail (boardwalk through the woods).  He loved to get a sprite for each of us as we started our journey down the trail.  When walking a nature trail we loved to pretend that we had gone back in time, that we were in the times of the Spanish armada and the British were at war.  We would gingerly slink down the boardwalk listening for any signs of the enemy.  Each visit Michael would say he would take the tour to the top of the roof on the blockhouse, but he just couldn't manage to do it.  I love those memories.  Watching the wind rush through his hair and his eyes squint so as to see through the surf and wind to our ultimate destination, Fort Matanzas.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Michael loved to go to the park.  I took him to the park in sets, sometimes we would go every other weekend, then we would hit a dry patch.  When we were at the park we played a few different games....
1) Afterburner - he loved to have me push him on the swing... I would push him high and hard, but not too hard and would say "Afterburner".  Pretending he was a plane, I would love to push him and say Afterburner.
2) Don't Come Back - This was his all time favorite.  As I would push him, I would tell him to get out of here and don't come back.... when he swung back toward me I would say... "I said get out of ere and don't come back", this used to crack him up.  He would always say "I am back"..... It was so great.  Who knew that continually pushing a swing and making up a game would be so fun.
3) Chase - He loved playing chase all the time, he loved to be chased and loved to barely get away.  I would usually grab a leg while he was on the playset.  He always managed to break free and "win".  The good guys always won in his book
4) Star Wars/ Good Guy/ Bad Guy - As he got older he loved to race from one playset to another pretending that we were on the same team.  We always managed to escape, get reinforcements, and live to fight another day.  Michael had a vivid imagination that he got from his mother, I will always remember our trips to the park, too bad we didn't take more trips.   
2) Tekesta Park - Great for quick trips to the park, excellent for pretend Star Wars
3) Winthrop Park - Great playground, excellent to play "Daddy is the Troll who wants to get me"

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Air Fest 2009

Today and Sunday is the airfest for Tallahassee (  While small compared to military air shows, it looks like great fun.  You can even fly in some of the planes and helicopters for a price.  Michael would have loved going to this airshow and would have thought it was the best thing in the world.  I am not sure if he would have gone up in a plane or helicopter this time.  Maybe I would have talked him into a trip in a B-52 if it was available.  His eyes would have lit up seeing the planes and the RC planes too.  I would have video taped as much as I could.  He would have wanted me to videotape the planes on the tarmac, or he would have brought his flip cam.
We missed the airshow last year at Tyndell, we couldn't fit it into our schedule.  I tried to find another airshow this year and had several ideas, unfortunately he passed before those air shows.  With tears dripping down my face I can only think of how he would have reacted at Air Fest 2009 and wish he was still here with us.  It would have been great if all three of us would have gone.  Now I sit here thinking of what might have been and am left with the memories of the times we played with planes, star wars and lego space ships in aerial battles of "yesterday".

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


Michael and I always raced.  We loved counting down a multitude of things from TV, to weekdays, to games.  He was very competive and I almost always let him win.  I remember we would race to the car every morning.  He would love to get a head start and beat me to the car.  Sometimes I would cheat and get a head start, but he always booked it to the car and I usually let it end up in a tie.  I always wanted him to continue trying, no matter what the obstacle.  I always started with a countdown from three before we started to race.

As a small toddler, I used the sit him in my lap and do a countdown.  We would pretend we were on the space shuttle and I would start shaking him softly as we got closer to zero.  When we reached zero, I would blast us off, by falling backwards from a sitting position.  We would get into a position like atronauts and shake and turn him.  He loved dodging the meteors and his all time favorite was when we tipped over into a crash landing on a planet.

Now I have a countdown of a different kind.  I don't have a set number and I dont know how long the countdown will be.  But when the countdown hits zero, we will be able to play again.  Until then, I am here without him for many years.  There is no way I can cheat this countdown, it is the countdown of life.  This is the longest countdown of my life.  My rocket ship has come crashing down to Earth and there is devastation on the landscape called my heart.  A nuclear bomb has exploded and the crater is enormous.

Until my countdown reaches zero, I will have to continue to play on without Michael.  To pilot my ship waiting for my copilot to return.  When playing I loved to restart the countdown and Michael used to always say "again Stu, again, do it again".  I find myself saying I wish I had a redo.  You will never know how precious life is until you lose someone.  That is a lesson I wish no one had to learn.  Life goes on, and things will get easier, but until then I am piloting my ship without the worlds best copilot and watching time countdown.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Today was Mother's day.  It was the first without Michael.  A typical mother's day usually consisted of me purchasing items a week or two out.  Then getting two cards, one from me and one from Michael.  Finally, the night before Michael and I would go out and get some flowers and hide them in the garage or the middle bedroom.  I would explain to Michael what Mother's Day was about and he would say "I know Stu".  
The next morning we would wake up Jenn and give her some breakfast in bed (cereal or whatnot). We would have a mother's day McD's lunch, and possibly bring home dinner to the house.

This Mother's Day was none of that.  I signed Jenn's card with Michael and my name, and didn't give a gift or flowers this year.  How do you celebrate Mother's Day after your son is gone?  Jenn is a wonderful mother, who showed Michael so much love and they had such a special bond.  Her life revolved around him and only she could pick him up and comfort him when he was sick or sad or needed his mom.  It was great to see him cuddling up next to her in the bed sometimes, he really loved that.  

Michael is gone now physically, but his spirit will never leave us.  He was free and had the most amazing heart.  He showed me how to love and become a better person.  He had an amazing bond with his mommy, Jenn that can never be broken.   

Mother's Day Jenn, Michael will always be with you. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The British are Coming - Act 1 Scene 2

Michael loved museums, he loved history, he loved learning new things.  I loved taking him and watching him as he saw history right before his eyes.  A few years ago, we went to the Mary Brogan Museum just about every weekend or two.  If we were bored, we would just run to the museum for a bit.  
His first visit to Mission San Luis when we talked to the characters, we met a character actor of a spanish solider in the block house.  The actor said that the british or pirates were on their way to destroy the village, he was playing in character of the time.  Michael did not understand at first and became a little frustrated.

Solider:  The british are on their way to destroy the village, they have indian allies and are getting close.  We will have to burn the village before they get here.
Michael: Why don't you call for help?
Solider: That would take weeks to send a messenger.
Michael: Just use your cell phone.
Solider: Cell Phone?  What is this Cell Phone.
Michael: You know, you use it when you want to talk to someone.
Solider:  We sent a message via a courier (sp), we don't think they made it.
Michael:  A cell phone is technology, use your technology.
Solider: We have technology, I have a musket right here.  I have never heard of a cell phone.
Michael: Technology, you know xbox, that is technology.
Solider: xbox?  We have a box over there, is that what you mean.
Me:  Michael the year is 1540, it is not present day.
Michael:  It is 2008, I have an xbox, you have a cell phone.  We have technology to call for help.
Solider:  It is 1540, we must get ready to burn the fort down.
Michael: Look over there at that red box, it says "pull in case of fire".  That is technology, this is 2008.
Solider:  I see no red box.
Michael: (Walks to the box) and points it out matter of factly.
Me: Michael, he is pretending this is 1540 and that we have gone back in time.
Michael: Ohh (A smile creeping across his face), why don't you use your guns to defeat the british? (Always believing the good guys would win).

Michael learned a lot that trip, he had always liked museums.  However, after that encounter, he wanted to talk more to the characters even if he was shy at times with them.  He realized that his love of history and his love of imagination could morph into a magical moment especially at living history exhibits.  He loved watching any reenactments.  

At Mission San Luis, his favorite area was the block house, nature trail, and the great council house.  I believe we made about 7-10 trips to Mission San Luis, what a wonderful time to see how he reacted being around living history.  I don't know if I can ever go back to a museum, the wonder and excitement are gone.  The magic is missing.  They had a story telling April 11th, it would have been fun to go to another story telling by Rainbow Eagle.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

April 9, 2009

It's the day my life ended.  

It's the day I heard terror in my wife's voice.

It's the day I heard my son had passed out at school.

It's the day that my wife and I were met at the hospital by the ER director, a chaplin, and some victim advocates from the sheriff's office.

It's the day I dropped my son off at school in the morning like any other day.

It's the day I will never hear my son's voice out loud, except in videos and my memory.

It's the day my son passed away.

I miss him dearly, tremendously, my heart is heavy and it aches whenever I think about it.

Michael was 9 going on 10 on July 1, 2009;  but he never made it.