November 22, 2009
To Peter Pan: Mikael was so unique that to draw similarities to anyone else (even a fictional character) seems almost silly. Yet, what I saw when I looked at Kael’s adventures and the rather extreme games he invented, was someone who had somehow managed to keep hold of that childhood imagination that most of us lose as we grow up. I remember one day we were going up the back alley to his house and for no apparent reason he climbed, laughing, into the tree in their back yard. I envied him in that moment as I did so many times. When I was younger I loved climbing trees, but somewhere in my teens I developed cat like sensitivities in the form of fear of coming back down. I’d cling to my life branch for much longer than I’d intended until someone coaxed me back down. I watched Kael sitting on his throne of branches, even hanging upside down from his knees. When he noticed his way up wasn’t as good for going back down (he had jumped into the tree off the fence) he didn’t worry - if need be he’d simply jump or fall down from that height, but what did that matter, at least he’d be on the ground again right?
I always have trouble when people ask me what I want for Christmas, or birthdays etc. but Kael had very comprehensive lists. Interspersed throughout the usual books, board games, music and movies were requests for items from the periodic table of elements (which I was to learn later was for rocket fuel – of course, what else would they be for?)
Mikael was easy to talk to. I don’t mean he was someone good at making small talk about the weather to break uncomfortable silences. Conversations with Kael were always interesting and as much as many of them were whimsical and fun, Kael was also never afraid to voice his most personal thoughts and feelings. From his voracious appetite for adventure and the resulting anecdotes, to the way he would open up allowing himself to be vulnerable as he shared his feelings, Kael was and is inspiring. I hope we can all continue to inspire others as we help him live on with our stories of him.
Among his many, many talents and interests, I will always remember his love of music and composing. The last summer I was in Winnipeg, we briefly discussed how much fun it would be if he composed something for us to play. What would you have come up with for us Kael? What labyrinths would you have had my fingers tripping over? What boundaries would you have challenged me to? What conversations would we have had violin to oboe?
I miss you Kael but I am glad you are at peace. Don’t worry, your amazing family - who I feel so privileged to know - and your friends won’t let you be forgotten. You did not fail, you were not helpless, you did so much more than many people will do in 100 years and you changed so many lives for the better. I know my life was made better for knowing you.
(Reprinted with permission)