by Marita Obst
November 19, 2009
There are so many memories...and they are all tangled up in my life, growing up, first love, Christmases, hilarious family dinners, and a family that I love as much as if they were my own.
I first met Mikael when I was 16, and he was the first of all of his family to talk to me and try to get to know something about me, and I remember that the first conversation we ever had alone was a deep, complex and thought-provoking one. We talked about faith, and God, and love and I informed Erik later that day that his brother was very, very cool. Over time, that initial respect I had for Mikael only grew, as he became someone I loved as a brother. Over time I got to know all of the Chans better, and loved them all for their own incredible talents; Mons' humor and vast intelligence; Erik's openness, love and creativity; Konrad's honesty and joy; Debbie's wisdom, acceptance and patience; and Tom's generosity and warmth. Every one has changed my life and who I have become, but Mikael was and always will be one of the most widely talented, sweet, imaginative, open-minded and Good men I have known, and will ever know, I'm sure.
I remember the last time I was in Winnipeg, in November of 2007, and most of my time spent there was with Mikael. We became closer, talked more than we ever had, went for walks to the library or just around River Heights. We went for coffee together to sit in amiable silence and write books, an endeavor in which Mikael was vastly more prolific than I was. We read each other's work and gave criticism and praise. I will never forget when he read something so raw and honest I had written about my past that I rarely shared, and fearing his response, all he said was "I didn't know that. I'm sorry" and gave me a hug, and it was the perfect thing to say. Mikael had an ability to empathize and understand people, he was a friend in the true sense of the word.
Mikael and I talked a lot about faith. He was the most open-minded and curious person I had ever talked to about God, Christianity and the concept of faith. His compassion and understanding inspired me, and made me think about life, death, love, and the motivations behind them all. For Mikael, I know that living for God and being good for God were his motivations in life (along with doing any and every daring feat that came to mind!) and that commitment and assurance amazes me and gives me hope that Mikael is in peace with his God, as he deserves to be.
I remember talking to Mikael about wanting kids and marriage. He described to me what his wedding would be like: a day-long hike up a mountain to come to clearing in which the ceremony would be held at sunset after a day of games. Pure and perfect Mikael. Any girl would have been blessed to have him by her side for life. I wish I could see it happen, because I know Kael would have been the best, most fun, most loving dad ever.
When I think of my growing years, the years where you develop the foundation of who you are, the memories that create you, and I subtract the time I spent with the Chan family, my whole life changes and becomes so much less. Less happiness, less laughter and love and contentment. I am truly blessed that I am able to include those experiences in my life, and Mikael was so much a part of that, that he is inextricably linked to who I have become. For that, and for his friendship I will always be grateful. Thank you Mikael for being the most vibrant, imaginative, daring, loving, fun friend, a person brimming with goodness. You inspire me. I'll love you, miss you, and remember you for the rest of my life.
(Reprinted with permission)