A year ago today I stepped out of a work presentation and answered a call from one of Michiel’s friends, and my world shattered into tiny painful pieces.
Last night, a group of us gathered around our screens to share happy stories and old photos of our friend. He is still so deeply missed. After the call ended, which was way past my bedtime because everyone else was a few time zones away, I kept thinking about the people on the call.
We all speak often about the way Michiel was a connector—not only the way he connected outsiders like me to his group of friends, but really, their entire group was formed because of the ways Michiel brought them together. It’s one of the more poignant things they share—that they are this big and happy group of loving friends because of him.
The movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” has come to my mind often this year. I wish that Michiel could, like George Bailey, have seen the ways his life changed so many other lives for the better. Like the movie character, I wish that Michiel could see the impact he made—even as a normal, innately flawed human—just by doing simple things like loving people and bringing them together. In that, he left an indelible legacy.
I’ve found this year that it’s hard to find ways to fully honor someone’s memory. I read a quote recently though that said “Be the things you loved most about the people who are gone.” And I really think that his capacity for arms-wide-open loving people and connecting them may have been the thing I loved most about Michiel.
So I think that’s one way I honor his legacy—by working to genuinely care for people people and bring them together the way Michiel would have done—because in moments like last night’s call I can see all the beautiful results of that kind of connection. And, in those moments, I know that the impact of his love will outlive us all.