This is the Amazing Weasel Boy, whom will forever again be known as Mikey.
Mikey inspired and encouraged me to write this blog. Sixty-Four Twelve's very first post, "Silvercliff", was about our daytrip there.
As you can see from the picture above, Mikey is a musician-- a percussionist and drummer-- and an excellent one at that. He is a late bloomer, having realized his calling just twenty short years ago.
After a lot of hard work and sacrifice, Mikey finally was on the cusp of greatness. He had opened his own drum shop about a year and a half ago. The shop was his baby and occupied his every thought. His customers loved him and asked for his opinions on every aspect of their drum purchases. He worked diligently to make his customers happy. He treated every person that walked through his door with warmth, respect and honesty.
His most recent pet project is Hellstrum, a band in Colorado Springs. Four like-minded musicians came together to write original music-- very hard, very fast, punk/industrial metal. Mikey was free to create his music without restrictions of any kind. He told me that after playing for twenty years in various bands, he had finally found the perfect marriage of musicians in Jack, Sledje and Terry. The joy these guys found together in their music was evident each time they walked on the stage. Hellstrum was also on the verge of greatness, getting attention state-wide and starting to reach out beyond the Colorado state lines.
Mikey and I met in high school in 1978. We now argue about who broke up with who-- Mikey said, "Oh, you broke up with me to go with that guy Matt," and I say, "Noooo... it was YOU who broke up with me, because I remember being broken-hearted afterward." He bought me my first diamond ring and I recall piously returning it after we'd split. I wasn't going to return it until my mother spotted me wearing it.
"You still have that? Why are you still wearing that, T-Bone?"
"Mikey gave it to me, Mom. It was a gift," I said ignorantly.
"T-Bone. You do not keep diamond rings after the relationship has broken up. You have to return it!" So I did.
What I would give to have that ring now.
One night, Mikey said to me, "You know what I remember? I remember your parents were out one night and I was over, and I got to lay on top of you down in the family room. God. That was awesome."
"How come I don't remember that?" I asked. "I want to remember it! Was it nice?"
"It was really nice," he said with a smile.
Again, as with the ring, what I would give to have that memory.
Mikey and I lost touch for about 25 years, when last year he suddenly popped into my head. I
Googled him, and there he was.
In my first email to him, the subject line said "You Are Not Going To Believe This." We got together for dinner and thus began the eleven month odyssey of getting to know each other again.
How he'd changed! The once painfully skinny, shy and tall Mikey with the feathered disco hair had turned into a bulky, long-haired musician. He was still so polite, so lovely, and smelled so good. After our first dinner, I was walking on air. I told my girlz Gwyneth and Deb, "Oh, I feel just the same. Just the same as I did all those years ago. Am I insane? I've got to be insane."
We met for dinner on a regular basis, either out or here at The Hovel. Mikey loved to come to The Hovel. "I love The Hamlet!" he said, gazing out the window onto the shops below. "I want to live here one day," he'd say.
"You will, sweetheart. One day you will. You'll forget all about The Other Side and live here," I said, "One day you're going to have everything you want. You just wait and see."
Immortality was a oft-discussed topic of our long conversations. "You know, T-Bone, I think you really ought to work on transcribing those diaries of your great-grandfather's. I think you're sitting on an amazing book and don't realize it." He looked at me so earnestly with his pale blue eyes. "You've got to do it! Life's too short, T-Bone. If you don't do it now, you're going to regret it."
"I know, I know..." I'd say irritably. I thought, God, but grandpa's writing is so small and spidery-- what a project!
He'd continue, "That's why I work so hard, T-Bone-- that's why. I need to make sure I make it so my Mom will know that I wasn't a complete fuckup my whole life. That's why this band and my music and my store are so important to me. I don't want her to die thinking that I was a fuckup."
"Mikey, she knows you're not. She loves you."
Throughout those eleven months, I wavered back and forth about the pursuit of Mikey. He didn't like pressure (who does?) so he backed away from me while simultaneously keeping his hand in.
When I went to San Diego to visit The Hessian, Mikey was very nervous about it. I didn't know this until one evening at The Hovel and over dinner, Mikey said:
"I have something to ask you."
"I just... you know, your going to San Diego made me think about some stuff." Here he paused and I thought, Oh boy. Here it comes. He continued, "Don't you think we'd make an awesome couple?"
I looked at him, fork in mid-air. "Yes. Yes I do," I said. "I think we could be really happy together."
"Would you... do you want to try it?" he asked.
"It would be my fondest wish, Mikey." Inside, I was exuberant and so very happy.
But nothing changed. Over the next three months, he pulled further and further away, until I finally realized I had to completely release him. I did so quietly, without any kind of speech, letter, email or drama. I just let him go, and he went.
I hadn't spoken to Mikey for seven weeks, when this morning I called our friend Derek, who'd left a message on my voicemail last night.
"T-Bone, have you heard from Mike?"
"Nooooo... we haven't spoken in weeks," I answered.
"Well... he's in the hospital," Derek explained.
He went on to say that Mikey had a seizure yesterday and they found a brain tumor pressing on his brain stem. Mikey was in a coma on life support.
Needless to say, I jumped in the shower, got dressed and went down to the hospital.
Many people were there, all of them in the same state as I was (and am)-- stunned, disbelieving, shaken. A friend of Mikey's, Cheli, said that the doctors had determined Mike was brain-dead and his family had decided to take him off life support. That is going to happen this afternoon, probably as I write this. "You should go in there and say goodbye, T-Bone," said Cheli gently.
I was shaking as I walked down the hall to his room in the ICU. I felt as if I was being pulled along by a force much greater than anything I'd ever felt-- a kind of repulsive and dirty rope, yanking me along to Mikey's room against my wishes and my will.
I walked in, and saw him.
He looked beautiful. The ventilator was in his mouth, breathing for him, and the soft whisper of his breath escaped through his lips. His long, silky hair was on the pillow. His eyes were closed, and oh, how I longed to look him in the eye one last time.
I held his hand. Warm.
"Mikey," I muttered. "You've really done it now." His beautiful face in complete repose.
"I came to say goodbye and I want to tell you I love you, baby. I always have and I always will." I leaned over and put my head on his chest, and listened to his heart beat. His big heart.
I straightened up and looked at him again. I smoothed back his hair from his forehead, and leaned down to kiss his cheek. I kissed his neck too, and put my nose up to his ear to take a sniff, something which always made him giggle. "You always have to get the sniff, don't you?" he'd say. "Oh, yeah," I'd answer. "I have to get the sniff because it's sooooo good!" This time was no different. He smelled like Mikey.
I said to him, "Mikey, I know I'll see you again. I'm going to miss you. We are all going to miss you." Then I leaned into his ear and whispered a poem by Yeats we both love:
'Your eyes that once were never weary of mine
Are bowed in sorrow under pendulous lids,
Because our love is waning.'
And then she:
'Although our love is waning, let us stand
By the lone border of the lake once more,
Together in that hour of gentleness
When the poor tired child, Passion, falls asleep:
How far away the stars seem, and how far
Is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart!'
Pensive they paced along the faded leaves;
While slowly he whose hand held hers replied:
'Passion has often worn our wandering hearts.'
The woods were round them, and the yellow leaves
Fell like faint meteors in the gloom, and once
A rabbit old and lame limped down the path;
Autumn was over him: and now they stood
On the lone border of the lake once more...
'Ah, do not mourn,' he said,
"That we are tired, for other loves await us;
Hate on and love through unrepining hours.
Before us lies eternity; our souls
Are love, and a continual farewell.'"
I again straightened my back and looked at Mikey for the last time.
"Baby, I love you so much. Goodbye."
I turned and left the hospital.