I really didn't want to post this and I have a lot going on but I also don't want people to think I'm not, well, thinking about it. Yes, tomorrow marks the second anniversary of Mike's death. The first year was such a blur dealing with the...stuff...you have to deal with when a loved one is gone that when I looked up, I was shocked to see that a year had passed. This year was a little different but no less painful. I don't go a day...an hour without thinking about him in some way. Of course, Charlie's presence is a constant reminder. I was attending a panel last week in New Orleans, listening to a lecture by Danny Bilson. I had just found out he'd worked on the TRANCERS movies (really bad movies that Mike and I loved) when I thought, just for a split second, about sending Mike an email about it. It brought tears to my eyes, as it always does but it passed quickly. I guess I'm getting used to it. Part of me is glad but mostly I feel guilty about it. I don't think I should ever stop crying about it.
But I don't want this to be a sad post so I'm going to tell a funny Mike (and Mom, Suzanne and me) story. It's definitely one of those "you had to be there" moments but it's something I remember so fondly I want to tell it.
About five or so years ago, my parents went to Italy for three weeks to visit some friends from Dad's Army days and they took Suzanne, Mike and me with them for one week to show everybody how big we'd gotten. (In my case, it was really big. I'd ballooned to 300 pounds and was several months from my much-needed weight loss.) Every time we were re-introduced to someone, they'd look at us and say, "Aaiiieee! Que grande!" (I realize that's probably written in Spanish but it was said in Italian. :) )
We visited two older people named Filicina and her husband, whose name escapes me. They were two of the sweetest, friendliest people I'd ever met and they didn't speak a word of English. Suzanne and I didn't speak any Italian but Mike had retained enough from his childhood to at least follow the rudiments of a conversation even if he couldn't really participate in it. We also kept joking about not knowing any Italian by quoting Steve Martin's routine about visiting countries that "don't have the courtesy to speak English." We mostly just smiled and listened to my parents talking to them. Italian really is a lovely language.
At some point, we'd ended up back in the home of Mom and Dad's good friend Bruno (where we were spending much of our time) and Dad was off somewhere with Bruno and his daughter Theresa. That left the rest of us in the living room speaking, thankfully, exclusively English and talking about our visits. Filicina's name was pronounced "Fill-a-chee-na" but we couldn't remember how to say it to save our lives. We kept calling her "Fettucini," which we thought was the height of comedy. We kept cracking up over it which I think annoyed Mom because she was so fond of her. Eventually, Mike realized none of us were mentioning her husband by name and said, "What is his name, anyway?"
Without missing a beat, I said, "Alfredo."
Mike instantly burst out laughing, followed by Suzanne. Most people don't think I'm very funny so I was taken aback at Mike's reaction at first but eventually, since the laughter went on for so long, I couldn't help it. I broke up. Mom was bewildered for a minute until she got it and then, despite herself, laughed out loud. We laughed so long and hard that our faces turned purple, we were crying and could hardly breathe. Mike did that thing he always did where he'd laugh a little, then repeat what made him laugh and break up again. Which would send the rest of us back into a hopeless fit of laughing again. I don't remember how long it went on but I'm surprised we all survived it.
From that day on, that nice, sweet couple was known as Fettucini and Alfredo. Bless their hearts.
Thanks for that day, Mike. I miss you, bro.
UPDATE: Newsarama has a wonderful retrospective of Mike's life and career here. Thanks to Scott Weinstein for the link.