Tuesday, December 6, 2011


My sister Michelle would have been 49 years old today. No doubt, I would’ve teased her a little about the big 5-0 looming ahead. Instead, I lost her when she was 42, and I cherish the memories of our time together.

In Hebrew, Michelle means “Who is like God?”  It also means warrior and defender and represents the archangel Michael, considered the most powerful angel according to Bible references, and who will play an important role in future world events.

Warrior and defender aptly describe Michelle. As children, she could beat me up, but no one else could. LOL. Most of the time, we got along well, though. I’ve said before, she took me to the brink of trouble more than once with her curfew violations, bending of rules, and her incessant need to try to “set me up” with one guy or another. But let someone so much as threaten to harm one hair on my head, and she was fierce.

We loved to play cowboys and Indians when we were kids (when it was still politically correct). One day, I was on my horse (bike) and shot her. To my horror, she dropped in front of me and I ran over her. I begged her not to tell Dad when he got home. I was convinced I’d get a spanking. Another time, I clunked her in the head with a croquet mallet after I lost the game. I’m pretty sure I received a much-deserved spanking for that.

Michelle was passionate about others battling mental illness. We had many conversations about the state of health care, psychotropic meds, and inpatient health care, none of which were ideal. At times, she suffered with severe depression, and her heart broke for others in the same situation. In one of our last conversations, she said, “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”

Michelle had a happy, mischievous side. During spells of wellness, I’d be surprised with a letter from her. The paper was usually dotted with her familiar “smile” notations accompanied with a smiley face. Though she often didn’t feel like smiling, she wanted others to smile.

Michelle had a wicked sense of humor. Like the time she accidentally ran over her future husband’s leg as she backed her car. He was leaning in the car window, it was late, she was tired, and she had already said good-bye—more than once. Or the time when she put red pepper flakes on my pizza when I wasn’t looking, which spurred the coughing fit of the century.

Most of all, I remember the quiet conversations we shared. These became more rare as physical distance separated us and her schizophrenia interfered with her rational thoughts. But during the quiet moments, Michelle spoke from her heart. She modeled what I feel Christian behavior should be in its truest form—caring for others more than self and uplifting others to make them feel better about their life situations.

In our conversations, Michelle never once displayed anger toward God for her situation. Instead, she embraced the idea of a better place and life in eternity. She understood what so few grasp—life on earth is temporary. Her temporary life was a minefield. I pray she found peace in eternity.


  1. Wow. That was really touching. Thank you for sharing that Aunt Laura. RIP Aunt Michelle

  2. Great tribute to Michele! Losing a love one is tough, I'm glad you have so many memories of her to keep her spirit alive. She had some pretty great kids, too. Prayers to you. Love, bk, your anonymous buddy from FL

  3. That was beautiful. I remember the day that you ran over her back with the bicycle like it was just yesterday. We were mortified but she just jumped up like it didn't phase her. We had good times as kids. All those parades and talent shows. Great time as teens also on the track and cross country team. My biggest competitor.

  4. This was a touching piece, Laura. It was obvious how much you loved your sister. Thanks for sharing.