>The 2010 Second Chance

3 Jan

>I’ve been in hiding. It’s literally the only way I can successfully navigate a stay-cation. I have to set my out of office message on email, put my iPhone out of site and avoid logging on to Facebook. It’s crazy, really. And as soon as I do all of this, someone leaves me a voice mail and — damn — I forgot to change my outgoing message there. Forget all about text messages. They come no matter what. And you’re at their mercy. Technology makes life so simple and convenient when you don’t need to get away. Then it’s as if it’s nearly impossible to hide.

That’s where I’ve been the last two weeks. Making my desperate attempt to spend mindful and present time with my little family. Both girls out of school and me trying like hell to partake in the waning joy of their childhood and holiday excitement. Believe it or not, I actually did it. And it’s been amazing and serene. Until last night.

I was sporadically checking in and Facebook was the hardest to avoid. Since there are no real work things that reach me that way (for the most part), I couldn’t stop myself from updating my status and seeing how others spent the holiday. And that’s how I found out about Mike.

I met Mike Hugill during the summer before my junior year in college. We had both been selected to be Orientation Leaders at USC and were a part of a team of campus leaders. All strong personalities with a side of compassion for bewildered and lost incoming freshmen and transfer students. We bonded immediately. He was one of the few that I’d actually kept in touch with from those days. Then Facebook made it even easier. And in his Mike way, he connected me to some of the others. I’d missed them all and treasured seeing where they’d landed.


It was an amazing experience coupled with a truly great group of people. We traveled, we trained, we laughed, we supported. I was even in one of the others’ weddings.

So I get an email from another college friend and sorority sister asking if I’d heard. “Heard what?” And I go to Mike’s Facebook page and quickly take in my breath. The lively repartee of Mike Hugill has been replaced with a flood of memories and shocked responses. He’s dead. It took me wading through hundreds of posts from the last two months to finally find the why/how/what…Oh my god.

He was 40 years old. He lived a life fill-to-overflowing. Biking, working out, rowing, charity work, social butterfly. His dogs. And one day in November, after working out and feeling poorly, he went home, laid down and never got up. A heart attack. Possibly in his sleep.

So I give you this. I spent most of 2009 in tumult. Stressed and crazed trying to regain balance after the exit of the b-partner. Fighting against the tide of the incoming and flailing as I miraculously — and somehow — stayed afloat. Looking above my two little girls’ heads at the expanding horizon of running a business solo. Failing to look into theirs and my hubby’s eyes with any regularity. Not fully seeing them in my distracted stance. Neglecting myself too. Spending too many long, uninterrupted hours at a computer screen and not enough breathing fresh, Colorado mountain air. Holing up, curled around a glass of wine as my only solace after kids, dishes, laundry, homework, deadlines, clients, emails, conference calls, meetings, paperwork, invoicing, volunteer commitments, social commitments had all wiped me dry.

Now, I raise that glass to you, Mike Hugill. Your untimely and most unjust and premature departure should stand to teach us all. Live. Live. Live.

That other shit can wait. 2010:BRING IT.

TODAY’S THEME SONG: Let Him Fly. Patty Griffin. There’s no mercy in a live wire, not rest at all in freedom. Of the choices we are given, it’s no choice at all. The proof is in the fire, you touch before it moves away. But you must always know how long to stay and when to go.

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