I thank Michael’s family for giving me this way to pay my last respects to Michael as I can’t be there in person. (While this is being read, I’ll be teaching in England.)
I will remember Michael for his earnestness, his kindness, his gentleness, and his warmth. I will remember him for his greatest ambitions: to be a good father and to be a good friend.
As I look through photos of Michael with Kaylee and Austin, what impresses me most in all their faces is the look of contentment. There’s happiness, too, but contentment goes deeper and speaks to their appreciation, to their delight and pride in one another. If I had a dollar for every time Michael spoke, with a sneaking smile, of how smart his son Austin was, of how bright (in several senses of the word) his daughter Kaylee was, I think my flight from England would have been paid for several times over. He used those words in my hearing enough times for me to believe that for each time I heard him, he’d said it a hundred, maybe a thousand times to others. Yes, Michael loved Austin and Kaylee, he loved them dearly, and just as importantly, he admired them for who they were, for their individuality and strength of personality. Often I thought his tone of voice, when speaking to them, suggested he was speaking to a younger friend rather than a child.
He was also a good friend—so I have heard, and I have seen in him the qualities that make one. He avoided rudeness, cattiness, and complaint; he was passionately loyal, unusually unconditional in his affection, and considerate. The last time I spoke to him it was September. It was a warm night, and he was sitting in his truck while Sandra had come inside to pick up some mail. I didn’t want them to just come and go, I wanted to talk to them and hang out for a while, so I went outside and invited Michael in for a glass of wine. It wasn’t to his taste—not quite sweet enough—but even that he admitted with a smile. It was the kind of conversation you have late at night, in a quiet house, voices low, relaxed, and straightforward. I suppose if I’d been outside that scene and been able to look in, at the writer and her sister and her ex-husband, the person I’d have chosen first to have a drink with would have been Michael, for his earnestness, his kindness, his gentleness, and his warmth.
Michael Lusher, I am glad you were alive. I have no doubt your children will take your ambitions—to be a good parent, a good friend—into their lives, and they will be better and happier for them. Thank you, thank you, thank you.