Reflections on Michael’s Passing

Our son Michael passed away last month, from heart failure at age 41. He left us too early with too much pain.

Michael was always different. I remember him two minutes out of the womb, starting out the same as every newborn, crying his little eyes out. Then he stopped and looked around, silent. “What’s all this?” That was Michael. Different.

Michael was born in Vancouver, British Columbia and spent most of his life in Sydney, Australia. There and later in Calgary, Vancouver, and Victoria, he worked in the IT industry as a network specialist. He was fired from his last job in Victoria in 2014 and never worked at his trade again.

In his own words from a few years ago, “I am a 37 year old guy named Michael. Formerly a Director of Information Technology, I had a bit of a mental health crisis experience back in 2014, after getting fired from a few too many jobs in a row for no reason other than office politics. And so I ended up running off half-crazed, into the metaphorical desert.

“Returning from the desert in 2015, I started volunteering on Tuesday mornings at a place here in Victoria called Christmas Hill, after a lady from church suggested it might be just the thing for me. She turned out to be totally correct. I started spending most of my time there.”

Copying this directly from his obituary:

Since 2015, Michael spent most of his time either writing passionately or single-handedly transforming the paths and vegetation of Christmas Hill in Saanich – a personal legacy that will live on in the hearts of those who enjoy the park. In his own words, “We can create a world that could be a much better place if we held ourselves accountable for making it so, and let every human being work to make it so.” He was passionate about making the world a better place.

This was one of the ways that Michael was different. He felt he was dealt a rough blow by the world and in return did what he could to make the world a better place. He threw himself body and soul at Christmas Hill, making it his mission to eradicate all weed life from it. He worked at it seven days a week, six to ten hours every day weather permitting. He caught shit from the local council because he dragged out so many piles of blackberry bushes that locals were complaining to council that they weren’t doing their clean-up job thoroughly. On our yearly summer visits to Canada, we spent many hours with him on Christmas Hill and remember a few times picking up one of his mattocks and tackling some of the brambles.

We should have been in Canada for several months this year and last, supporting him spiritually, as we have done for the previous 12 years. Instead we were and are still trapped here in Australia by the COVID lockdowns. We cannot travel and suddenly there are endless mandates and restrictions removing freedoms we have taken for granted.

Officially, the pandemic started on January 30, 2019 when The W.H.O. declared a global health emergency. That for me was the day that freedom died. Coincidentally, January 30 is Michael’s birthday. So I am declaring 30 January to be Universal Freedom Day, and Heather and I will be the first to honour it.

Every sentient being in the universe is invited to join. Sure, sure I have no official status to make such a declaration but I’m doing it anyway. How else is real change going to come about until those of us start changing things without permission?

A final word about Michael, who was an unceasing champion of freedom and human rights. We never were out of contact with him. We got together most Mondays with a Skype call and talked to him just days before he left us. “Love you heaps,” were always his parting words to us.

Love you heaps, son. See you on the hill.

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