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It’s been a year

One year ago today Mike had to go. He didn’t want to. But he did, with courage and humor and dignity. And he left beautiful memories, friends, family, and an amazing legacy. Mike was full of energy, hope, laughter, warmth, adventure, optimism, pride, gratitude and forward momentum at all times. He was brave. He was also opinionated, passionate, sometimes judgmental and none too patient. He had incredible grit and perseverance. He was fun, hard to keep up with (even when he felt horrible) and not always easy (regardless of how he was feeling). And I miss it all, every bit. The more time that passes, the prouder of him I am.

I have many, many to thank for helping to bring light, love, food, laughter and care to Charlotte and I and Joyce, Dennis, Shannon, her family, and my mom over the last year. My sisters in all but blood who keep me balanced and inspired, my colleagues at work who make me laugh daily, my dear friend and (how lucky am I?) boss and her family who prop me up on an almost constant basis, our new, but feels like lifetime, Roanoke park neighbors and friends, Charlotte’s two incredibly dedicated godfathers, all of my and Mike’s friends who send kind words, emails, texts, and letters from all corners of the earth, all our family friends, the Bush moms who rally in an instant for coffee or cocktails or carpools to basketball. The list goes on and on. Thank you.

And thank you for remembering and talking about and telling stories about Mike. Please keep on. It feels like a miracle every time it happens.

I have a vision of celebrating Mike every year. My friends Stefanie and Christy were helping to define what the “event” should be and Chris came up with something that felt just perfect this year and Stef with some of the words below.

And here it is – wherever you are, whenever you can, over the next few days, take a moment and a deep breath, and toast Mike. He would want you to kiss your loved ones, count your blessings, take stock, think of him and CELEBRATE. Go for a run, have a burger, make your spouse laugh, tickle your kid, have a beer, live well. And if you feel like sharing, all the better. Post a thought, a gratitude, a photo on this blog or on facebook. or #formiked. For those who know me well, I’m not kidding. I have posted on Instagram. Twice. I dare you.

I was digging around in some emails and came across a presentation Mike did in 2008. A company asked Mike to speak at a conference about his experience battling cancer. He titled the presentation Never Give Up and he included the following:

Live in the present, it’s the only time we have
Take chances, push fear from your mind
Tell the people that matter to you that you love them, often
Say you’re sorry once in awhile
Don’t postpone things
Stop feeling sorry for yourself (really Mike? Honestly, this one just plain makes me mad)

And, of course, With Hope Anything is Possible

And lastly, Go Hawks! #formiked






10 Responses to “ “It’s been a year”

  1. Shannon says:

    One word — beautiful!
    The Holts

  2. Cheri Kucala says:

    What a wonderful tribute to an incredible man.

  3. Jennie, so nice to hear from you and see a pic of you and lovely little Charlotte! I think of you (and Michael) so often. And being one who lives with the dragon myself, I understand Mike’s gift to us all so well. He taught us much and he taught it with humor and poignancy and grace and grit. And so I will draw or paint and I will kiss my own girl and I will hug my husband in Michael’s honor. Because I can. And I will tell the story of callng Mike when I was newly diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer and experiencing a fear that felt much like a caged animal pacing back and forth, back and forth inside of me – waiting for its moment to lunge. But in one conversation with your husband I was able to tame the fear just a bit. We talked of cancer (certainly) but also of life and children and spouses whom we loved. And wine. By the end of that short hour I could breathe again. That was the power of hope. That was the power of Michael. I am forever grateful for the strength he gave me on an ordinary Tuesday afternoon. I am sending much love to all of you from Colorado. xo

    • cheri Kucala says:

      Siobhan, I had hoped to meet you in person to tell you how moving and appropriate your words were just hours after Mike died. Thorough some fluke in the blog, I got the comments before they were posted. We were all sitting at Jen’s kitchen table; Mike’s parents, Joyce and Dennis, his beautiful sister Shannon, Jen’s mom Sonia and his friend Matt. I read your post out loud to the crowd. And when I finished, there was silence. We just sniffled, basked in your beautiful words and sighed. Thank you for that gift.

      • Thanks for that story! It did my heart good. I know what a wonderful man Michael was by all of the wonderful people he collected. It would be lovely to meet them all in person one day but his blog continues to pull us together with words. I think he would love that!

  4. cheri Kucala says:

    My Facebook Post from May seems appropriate for today ….. Mike Dougherty 1965-2014. Mike, it’s been 4 months and I want to thank you today for showing me how to fully live a life cut way too short. But also for teaching me how an incredible man leaves this world; cracking jokes, saying thank you to all the nurses, apologizing, laughing and showing family and friends that amazing spirit and love. You are my hero.

  5. Matt says:

    Keep fighting the good fight and know your words inspire many.
    I have decided to do all these things mentioned. Kissing Kathy & Mallory. Counting my blessings every day. Take stock on a regular basis. Thinking of him every day and smiling often with great memories, but also deep sadness at times. Celebrating his beautiful wife and my Godchild Charlotte. (Love that incredible child) Decided to get back and run next week, continue to eat In & Out burgers, share bad jokes to make Kathy roll her eyes and share a small smirk. Tickle Kathy as Mallory would think it was creepy, continue to drink Stellas (stocked in the refridge) and try to live healthy & well. Mike,get those baseball fields and golf courses ready. Time flies.

  6. Patrick Lewis says:

    IIIIIII ABBBBBBBBSOLUTELY LOVE IT. Gunner is in my prayers everyday, not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. I had a dream about him a couple days before I rec’d your card, we were playing basketball…….and he STILL DIDN’T pass the ball mannnnnnnnn.

    I miss him dearly.
    Much Love from Patrick Lewis and the Lewis’

  7. Michelle Feldman says:

    What a beautiful and moving tribute. I think of Mike often, and have re-told his courageous story on numerous occasions to those struggling with other life challenges…he’s a testament to how life should be lived, even in light of great challenges. He has been a great inspiration in my life, and I’m proud to say I knew him. It made my heart leap to see you and Charlotte smiling….what a beauty she is! Just like her Mom. :) I toasted Mike while watching a beautiful sunset. I think he would have liked that. Sending lots of love from Arizona. Please give Charlotte a great big hug from me. Michelle xo

  8. Linda Lydon says:

    Our love for Mike brought The Benham Gang together after almost 20 years apart. We’ve reconnected amazing friendships and bonds- Thank you Mike. We talk and laugh until we cry remembering that great time in our lives.

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